Joseph Chapman: My Molly Life
by James Lovejoy
Self-published. 361 pages, $16.99
JOSEPH CHAPMAN is a captivating historical novel that reveals the hidden life of gay men in 18th-century England. It follows the title character from childhood to his parents’ deaths and his stay in an orphanage, where he meets and falls in love with Chowder, a fellow orphan, and becomes apprenticed to a bookseller. He and Chowder are later imprisoned for “unnatural acts,” their fates uncertain.
Lovejoy has done extensive historical research and deploys it well, recreating London in the 18th century down to graphic details, such as the smell of trash and human waste in the streets.