For fans of Sarah Waters and THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE, a vibrant tale of female boxers and their scheming patrons in 18th-century Bristol.
Some call the prize ring a nursery for vice . . .
Born into a brothel, Ruth's future looks bleak until she catches the eye of Mr Dryer. A rich Bristol merchant and enthusiast of the ring, he trains gutsy Ruth as a pugilist. Soon she rules the blood-spattered sawdust at the infamous Hatchet Inn.
Dryer's wife Charlotte lives in the shadows. A grieving orphan, she hides away, scarred by smallpox, ignored by Dryer, and engaged in dangerous mind games with her brother.
When Dryer sidelines Ruth after a disastrous fight, and focuses on training her husband Tom, Charlotte presents Ruth with an extraordinary proposition. As the tension mounts before Tom's Championship fight, two worlds collide with electrifying consequences.
THE FAIR FIGHT will take you from a filthy brothel to the finest houses in the town, from the world of street-fighters to the world of champions. Alive with the smells and the sounds of the streets, it is a raucous, intoxicating tale of courage, reinvention and fighting your way to the top.
Anna Freeman is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University as well as a multiple slam-winning performance poet who has appeared at festivals across Britain including Latitude and Glastonbury. She lives in Bristol. The Fair Fight is her first novel.
The Fair Fight is a hugely exciting and entertaining novel, written with warmth, charm, authority and, above all, terrific flair. I loved it. — SARAH WATERS
(A) cracking debut... It is a lively, rambunctious read which captures Bristol street life brilliantly and niftily sets the scene for a memorable collection of characters who are prepared to gamble everything to gain hope and some form of happiness. — Eithne Farry, SUNDAY EXPRESS
Anna Freeman's familiarity with this rough and raunchy period of history and her wonderfully imagined cast of characters, often down but never out, makes this a brilliant debut novel. — Rose Wild, THE TIMES
This storming debut is fiction at its most absorbing. It'll be first in line for Freeman's next offering. — Kat Poole, STYLIST
For lovers of the evocative historical romps of Sarah Waters and Michel Faber this is a visceral and funny debut. — EMERALD STREET
(Anna's) enthusiasm for the subject matter and her skill at creating powerful narrative voices are in strong evidence in this gritty, vividly evoked historical novel. Fans of Sarah Waters and Emma Donoghue, take note. — DIVA MAGAZINE
An accomplished first novel that reminded me somewhat of Peter Carey's Jack Maggs. — NED DENNY, DAILY MAIL
lively and original — THE SUNDAY TIMES
Passion and pugilism ...(an) original, memorable debut novel. — Nick Rennison, BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE
Freeman's first novel is shocking but a cracker. The writing is good and the characters totally believable. I loved it. — LESLEY PEARSE, SAINBURYS MAGAZINE
This truly bears comparison with Michel Faber's THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE as first-time author Freeman (a performance poet who has appeared at Latitude and Glastonbury) brings the 18th century to throbbing life, in an immersive novel rich with extraordinary characters and a cracking plot. — THE BOOKSELLER
this highly enjoyable read that packs a punch. — HISTORY REVEALED
A brilliant, bold and unforgettable debut. Freeman transports us to a history we'd never have imagined and makes it viscerally real. — NATHAN FILER
The Fair Fight is, I think, just about the most well-written novel I have read in five years. The depiction of the situation and characters is very clearly done with great economy of effort. Even the title is clever. ..this is an excellent read, and one that will stay with you for a long time. — Alan Fisk, HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY
'[The] novel, though written in a fashion long past, feels quite natural and free. She [Anna Freeman] has taken the late 18th century, language and all, and pummelled life into it. THE FAIR FIGHT breathes, shouts and swears, confident in its form and bold as brass in its execution. If Anna Freeman ever puts up her fives and takes to milling, I'll not volunteer as an opponent.' — New York Times