‘Lucky Bunny is Jill Dawson’s seventh novel, and it serves as further confirmation that she’s both one of the most talented and underrated novelists of her generation, and certainly one with a most remarkable capacity to cover a wide range of subjects, from Rupert Brooke to the Thompson-Bywaters murder case to autism in nineteenth-century France. As with her previous works, including Wild Boy, Fred and Edie, and The Great Lover, Dawson chooses here to tackle a particular era in history through the lens of her protagonist. The result is a precise, even weave of pacy narrative and historical detail.’ 

Jean Hannah Edelstein

‘Gloriously enjoyable’ 
Sunday Telegraph

‘Heart-rippingly painful and joyously playful. A major prize-winning contender.’
Sainsbury’s Magazine

Her new novel, and new narrator, may be her most likable yet.’
The Guardian

‘Jill Dawson’s story of an East End girl made good by being defiantly bad is hilarious, poignant and exquisitely written’
Philip Hoare, Sunday Telegraph Book of the Year 2011

‘A spark fires throughout her work.’
The Guardian

‘Hilarious, poignant and exquisitely written’
Philip Hoare

Queenie Dove is a self-proclaimed ‘genius’ when it comes to thieving and survival. In Lucky Bunny she narrates her colourful life: born into a criminal family in the East End of London during the Depression, Queenie survives the Blitz and the Bethnal Green tube disaster to become an accomplished thief, trained by a group of women shop-lifters before moving on to more glamorous – and lucrative – crimes. Daring, clever and sexy, Queenie takes pride in outwitting the police and surviving on her wits. Despite attempting to go straight after the birth of her daughter, she’s tempted by the opportunity to take part in one last, audacious robbery.

Jill Dawson at the launch party for Lucky Bunny.

Was she a woman more sinned against than sinning? Or wicked through and through? In the spirit of Moll Flanders, Lucky Bunny tells a vivacious tale of trickery and adventure, but one which has a darker undertow of pain and heartbreak than its heroine cares to admit. Yes, luck often favoured her, but that is only part of the story.

‘Jill Dawson is one of those writers so gifted and assured you relax just five words in. Take me anywhere you like, you say to the book. I’m in your hands.’
Wendy Holden – The Daily Mail

‘Lucky Bunny is Jill Dawson’s seventh novel, and it serves as further confirmation that she’s both one of the most talented and underrated novelists of her generation, and certainly one with a most remarkable capacity to cover a wide range of subjects, from Rupert Brooke to the Thompson-Bywaters murder case to autism in nineteenth-century France. As with her previous works, including Wild Boy, Fred and Edie, and The Great Lover, Dawson chooses here to tackle a particular era in history through the lens of her protagonist. The result is a precise, even weave of pacy narrative and historical detail.’
Jean Hannah Edelstein – Fiction Uncovered

‘Jill Dawson excels in literary ventriloquism, getting under the skin of a character and telling us their story, seemingly in their own words.’
Bidisha’s blog

‘I’d imagine this year’s Booker will be a shoo-in for Alan Hollinghurst’s The Stranger’s Child but as I haven’t read it yet, I’m free to award my fantasy prize to Jill Dawson for Lucky Bunny. I adored the central character – a Mandy Rice-Davies confection with an even bigger heart – and have never come across an act of literary ventriloquism like it.’
Polly Samson, author of Perfect Lives

‘In Dawson’s capable hands, thieving Queenie’s story is far more than just crime caper. An award winning poet, Dawson shrewdly uses her heroine’s undeniably clever but poorly educated point of view to evocative and sometimes lyrical effect, the author’s use of language pure, simple and shimmering.’
The Scotsman

Lucky Bunny is admirablefor the way its fizzing narrative is grounded in a cool-eyed awareness of the social and sexual injustices of the mid-20th century’
Maggie Gee, The Independent

‘Jill Dawson does narrative voice like no one else.’
William Rycroft

‘Dawson, as ever, delves deep into her subject matter, combining fast-paced narrative with astute, piercing reflection on more complex matters.’
Independent on Sunday

‘This is Jill Dawson’s very, very best book. She is a wonderful ventriloquist. She does voice beautifully and you read it through in one great gulp of delight – at least I did.’
Lisa Appignanesi

‘I really began to enjoy it…..the relationship between poverty and organised crime is explored very well indeed. …(Dawson) shows how when you are literally starving – and I think it’s important that (Queenie) is literally starving at one point in the novel – your options are extremely limited. What she’s saying is there but for the grace of God go all of us. In the end a fairly textured idea of why people get engaged in crime.’
Misha Glenny, speaking on Saturday Review, BBC Radio Four


Listen to an interview with Jill Dawson about Lucky Bunny on BBC Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour here.

Daily Telegraph Lucky Bunny review

Jill Dawson is a novelist and poet wonderfully unbound by the historical settings of her work. Her last book, The Great Lover, created an exquisitely fictional portrait of a real person, Rupert Brooke. In her new and gloriously enjoyable novel she invents a character so convincing that it’s hard to believe Queenie Dove is only a figment of the author’s imagination.

The setting is London’s East End, where Queenie is born into grimy poverty in the Thirties in a tenement near the Blackwall Tunnel. Her mother is an alcoholic, her father a career criminal. But Queenie is an invention all of her own. She knows, almost from birth, her own worth, fired with a fierce intelligence that will free her – albeit in an illegitimate manner. Her first criminal act is to steal a bottle of milk for herself and her brother. The theft is liberating, and it teaches her a lesson: “Saying nothing. My best talent.”
Caught up in the greater tragedies of war, young Queenie loses hold of her beloved grandmother’s hand in the infamous Bethnal Green Tube disaster, when 173 people were crushed to death. Effectively orphaned, she’s adopted by a gang of upgraded tarts, “the Green Bottles”, who teach her how to “hoist”. The East End girl becomes a West End shoplifter, stuffing silk stockings into her pants. Inevitably, she’s drawn into the organised crime of the Fifties, an alternative, illicit existence.

Dawson’s eye for period detail is unerring, as Queenie flits glamorously through Mayfair nightclubs and Hackney council estates alike, with namechecks for the Dockers, Diana Dors and the Krays. The Soho Italian Tony becomes her lover, while her autistic brother turns out gay – “he licks the stamps on the other side”. Landing in Holloway, she promptly escapes via the cell window in a magistrate’s court.

Nothing will confine our heroine, neither the violence of her boyfriend nor the law itself. She bursts out of these pages, longing for life, as we are drawn into her world by Dawson’s terse, electric prose. I’ve seldom read a novel with such a sense of excitement. And the fact that we find ourselves rooting for the wonderfully wicked Queenie through all her uproarious and emotional capers only underlines the subtle and affirming art of her talented creator.

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