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The Forty Elephants

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Inspired by the true story of Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants, the first all-female gang of London. London in the 1920s is no place for a woman with a mind of her own. Gang wars, violence, and an unforgiving world have left pickpocket Alice Diamond scrambling to survive in the Mint, the gritty neighborhood her family has run for generations. When her father goes to ja Inspired by the true story of Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants, the first all-female gang of London. London in the 1920s is no place for a woman with a mind of her own. Gang wars, violence, and an unforgiving world have left pickpocket Alice Diamond scrambling to survive in the Mint, the gritty neighborhood her family has run for generations. When her father goes to jail yet again and her scam artist brother finds himself in debt to the dangerous McDonald crime syndicate, Alice takes over. Fighting for power at every turn, she struggles to protect her father's territory and keep the people she loves safe from some of London's most dangerous criminals. Recruited by the enigmatic Mary Carr, Alice boldly chooses to break her father's edict against gangs and become part of a group of notorious lady shoplifters, the Forty Elephants. Leaving the Mint behind, she and the other girls steal from the area's poshest department stores, and for the first time in her life, Alice Diamond tastes success. But it's not long before she wants more--no matter the cost. And when her past and present collide, there's no escaping the girl from the Mint.


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Inspired by the true story of Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants, the first all-female gang of London. London in the 1920s is no place for a woman with a mind of her own. Gang wars, violence, and an unforgiving world have left pickpocket Alice Diamond scrambling to survive in the Mint, the gritty neighborhood her family has run for generations. When her father goes to ja Inspired by the true story of Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants, the first all-female gang of London. London in the 1920s is no place for a woman with a mind of her own. Gang wars, violence, and an unforgiving world have left pickpocket Alice Diamond scrambling to survive in the Mint, the gritty neighborhood her family has run for generations. When her father goes to jail yet again and her scam artist brother finds himself in debt to the dangerous McDonald crime syndicate, Alice takes over. Fighting for power at every turn, she struggles to protect her father's territory and keep the people she loves safe from some of London's most dangerous criminals. Recruited by the enigmatic Mary Carr, Alice boldly chooses to break her father's edict against gangs and become part of a group of notorious lady shoplifters, the Forty Elephants. Leaving the Mint behind, she and the other girls steal from the area's poshest department stores, and for the first time in her life, Alice Diamond tastes success. But it's not long before she wants more--no matter the cost. And when her past and present collide, there's no escaping the girl from the Mint.

30 review for The Forty Elephants

  1. 4 out of 5

    Fran

    "Some steal out of desperation. Some steal because they like it. I do it for both...This job, one that I was born into, is my only calling...Taking risks is the only way women ever get ahead of men in this city." The Diamond family brought order to The Mint, a neighborhood where "the streets are blackened with London grime...a den for thieves, killers, and liars...". As a collector or shoplifter, Alice Diamond suddenly had to "up her game" since her father, the head of The Mint, was incarcerated. "Some steal out of desperation. Some steal because they like it. I do it for both...This job, one that I was born into, is my only calling...Taking risks is the only way women ever get ahead of men in this city." The Diamond family brought order to The Mint, a neighborhood where "the streets are blackened with London grime...a den for thieves, killers, and liars...". As a collector or shoplifter, Alice Diamond suddenly had to "up her game" since her father, the head of The Mint, was incarcerated. "...these streets talk about [Alice],... a fighting spirit of a man with [her] father's temper to match." Safecracker Tommy, Alice's brother, had amassed a huge debt. To prevent Tommy from being "owned" by The Elephant and Castle Gang, Alice was determined to pay off the debt to ensure her family's safety. But, she wanted to maintain the family rule set by Thomas Diamond: The Diamond family doesn't join gangs. Circumstances dictated otherwise. Alice's childhood friend, Maggie Hill aka The Reaper, introduced her to Mary Carr, the head of a female gang of thieves called The Forty Elephants. Mary dealt in goods and profits. This gang of professional collectors, wore clothes designed for large thefts; large pockets sewn into garments or, perhaps crinolines and bustles that could conceal a stash. Mary would then "fence goods before the coppers can track it down. [She] had all kinds of connections to this city and the men who control it." "Honest men are the best men...No man is honest. So the best man is no man... The girls that followed Mary, did so willingly. She wanted to give every woman a chance to wear silk and ride in cars they own. Women can make their own destiny." Alice aka Diamond Alice reveals, "It's hard to believe-a female gang of thieves, under no man's law, running by their own rules. I have power in The Mint, but only because my dad gave it to me." The Forty Elephants was a game changer for Alice. Gang life provided a taste of freedom. Real freedom always had its price! "The Forty Elephants" by Erin Bledsoe is a fascinating work of historical fiction describing female shoplifters in 1920's London. With poverty rampant, accomplished collectors could keep the family fed. Diamond Alice succeeded Mary Carr as Queen of the Forty Elephants, a street gang in Victorian London. Collectors, mingling with the rich by wearing stylish clothes, worked as a threesome... "a face, a pair of eyes and skilled hands..." "... why survive, when you can thrive?" Highly recommended. Thank you Blackstone Publishing and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    London, 1920. Alice Diamond is a new waitress at 43 Club at night. During a day, she works as a maid. Her name and experience change on paper constantly. It all depends what is required for the next gig. Constantly biding her time until the moment is right to rub someone blind. Her friend, Maggie, has come a long way since stealing chocolates, now, putting on the posh. She introduces Alice to Mary Carr and her gang of thieves called the Forty Elephants. They do the collecting, a word they prefer London, 1920. Alice Diamond is a new waitress at 43 Club at night. During a day, she works as a maid. Her name and experience change on paper constantly. It all depends what is required for the next gig. Constantly biding her time until the moment is right to rub someone blind. Her friend, Maggie, has come a long way since stealing chocolates, now, putting on the posh. She introduces Alice to Mary Carr and her gang of thieves called the Forty Elephants. They do the collecting, a word they prefer over stealing, from the department stores, not something Alice had guts to do. It is a fascinating story based on true characters and gangs of London during 1920s. A place that was ruled by gangs at the time. Alice and her accomplices saw that they had only two choices, at least from the background they came, stealing or selling their bodies. They chose the first one and working for a woman, they felt she gave them a choice. They weren’t bullied into stealing as in other gangs. The story starts strong with character-development, but then it slows down. It’s one of those stories where I’m not sure if it’s further driven by character or plot. When it comes to plot, I wanted the events to move faster or have more to it to make the pace faster. Overall, it is an interesting story, narrated with beautiful prose. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Davida Chazan

    Well, if this is how Bledsoe is writing a debut novel, I'll be on the lookout for her next books! This was really good, and you can find out why if you read my #bookreview on my blog here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2022/08/2... Well, if this is how Bledsoe is writing a debut novel, I'll be on the lookout for her next books! This was really good, and you can find out why if you read my #bookreview on my blog here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2022/08/2...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Hamel

    This is so great. I love feminist literature, and this one has a good balance of happy parts and sad parts. Alice has a lot of responsibilities but doesn’t get a ton of credit for all that she does, and this struggle to be taken seriously is something that I’m sure all women reading this will find relatable. This takes on plenty of more serious topics, but I just find heists and girlbossery so fun. I read a description of this that compares the novel to Ocean’s 8, and I agree that fans of the mo This is so great. I love feminist literature, and this one has a good balance of happy parts and sad parts. Alice has a lot of responsibilities but doesn’t get a ton of credit for all that she does, and this struggle to be taken seriously is something that I’m sure all women reading this will find relatable. This takes on plenty of more serious topics, but I just find heists and girlbossery so fun. I read a description of this that compares the novel to Ocean’s 8, and I agree that fans of the movie should seek this out. I received an ARC for free and am leaving this review voluntarily.

  5. 4 out of 5

    EBONI

    Overall Rating: 3.5 Plot: amazing storyline, the idea is very great and i love how it's lowkey inspired by the peaky blinders too. it's a classic scheme but it works well. Writing: Needs a bit of cohesiveness, sometimes actions and scenes feel uncompleted like there is gaps in between the actions that characters are doing so it feels rushed, empty and a bit confusing. The first person pov is not my favorite, and there's small lack of lyricism and depth in the character's monologues. I wish there Overall Rating: 3.5 Plot: amazing storyline, the idea is very great and i love how it's lowkey inspired by the peaky blinders too. it's a classic scheme but it works well. Writing: Needs a bit of cohesiveness, sometimes actions and scenes feel uncompleted like there is gaps in between the actions that characters are doing so it feels rushed, empty and a bit confusing. The first person pov is not my favorite, and there's small lack of lyricism and depth in the character's monologues. I wish there was less tell than show. The scenes feel jumpy, as if the author can't wait to start the next scene, so I'd have loved if she slowed down, and write the scene to be more whole. The book is a bit fast paced too, we don't get to sit and simmer with the events, and the characters' dialogue at times seems rushed, like they're too easy to persuade. Some characters needed more personality to them. We had an obvious villain, and an obvious hero, but some of the side characters like the McDonald's needed more charisma into them, and the Hill brothers too. More feelings, more history, more human interaction.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Becca Kate

    Who run the world? Girls! This book packs a punch of female strength and power. I was mesmerized from the beginning and loved that it’s based off real women. The main character, Alice, is bold and passionate which resonates off the page. I definitely got Peaky Blinder with a mix of Ocean’s 8 vibe from this book. I’m always a fan of stories from the 1920s and even better, ones that are based in London. It made for an entertaining read! If you want to learn about an all female gang, The Forty Eleph Who run the world? Girls! This book packs a punch of female strength and power. I was mesmerized from the beginning and loved that it’s based off real women. The main character, Alice, is bold and passionate which resonates off the page. I definitely got Peaky Blinder with a mix of Ocean’s 8 vibe from this book. I’m always a fan of stories from the 1920s and even better, ones that are based in London. It made for an entertaining read! If you want to learn about an all female gang, The Forty Elephants, be sure to read this when it’s out in August! Thank you Blackstone Publishing for the advanced copy! All the thumbs up to Erin Bledsoe for this fantastic book!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    I really wanted to like this. I wanted something different in my audio book for my daily walk and this sounded unique and interesting. I guess I wasn't as ready as I thought for "different". This was a bit too dark and depressing for me. The world these characters live in is Britain's darkest, meanest underbelly, and while I love that the main character is a woman and the leader of her family of thieves, I was depressed at the one hour mark of the audio book. With 12 total hours for the book I ju I really wanted to like this. I wanted something different in my audio book for my daily walk and this sounded unique and interesting. I guess I wasn't as ready as I thought for "different". This was a bit too dark and depressing for me. The world these characters live in is Britain's darkest, meanest underbelly, and while I love that the main character is a woman and the leader of her family of thieves, I was depressed at the one hour mark of the audio book. With 12 total hours for the book I just wasn't up for hours and hours more of people who's only crime is being poor getting battered and beaten down. Apparently, the main character is based on a real person, and maybe things get better for her further along. I just found this a bit too heavy for me. Great writing and character-building though. This could be a great read for other readers.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Patrick H

    This isn't my usual book but I kept seeing reviews about how it's dark and or brutal. It is, and that's why it's fantastic. London 1920 was brutal, to be a woman during that time? Dark. The writing is sharp, to the point, and not at all laced with the usual dramatic descriptions often handed out in historical fiction. At times, it's easy to see that this is a debut novel, other times, it's hard to believe it is. I would give the writing four stars, but the plot and character development five. This isn't my usual book but I kept seeing reviews about how it's dark and or brutal. It is, and that's why it's fantastic. London 1920 was brutal, to be a woman during that time? Dark. The writing is sharp, to the point, and not at all laced with the usual dramatic descriptions often handed out in historical fiction. At times, it's easy to see that this is a debut novel, other times, it's hard to believe it is. I would give the writing four stars, but the plot and character development five.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stacie Murphy

    A lush and immersive debut from the talented Erin Bledsoe. Alice Diamond is hard as her name on the outside, but inside, her love for her family and her longing for security--a hard thing to find for the underclass in 1920's London--makes her willing to risk everything. Every time I thought Alice couldn't grow any bolder, Bledsoe raised the stakes. The Forty Elephants is outstanding, and I can't wait to see what Bledsoe does next. A lush and immersive debut from the talented Erin Bledsoe. Alice Diamond is hard as her name on the outside, but inside, her love for her family and her longing for security--a hard thing to find for the underclass in 1920's London--makes her willing to risk everything. Every time I thought Alice couldn't grow any bolder, Bledsoe raised the stakes. The Forty Elephants is outstanding, and I can't wait to see what Bledsoe does next.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Heather L

    This story takes place in London England in the 1920's and is based on a real person, Alice Diamond, who was the leader of a gang of females that 'collected' goods (collected is another word for steal). Alice Diamond is the head of her family while her father is in prison, she's tasked with looking after the Mint a neighborhood her family has controlled for a long time. She meets an old friend who talks her into joining the Forty Elephants gang run by Mary Carr, something that Alice doesn't usua This story takes place in London England in the 1920's and is based on a real person, Alice Diamond, who was the leader of a gang of females that 'collected' goods (collected is another word for steal). Alice Diamond is the head of her family while her father is in prison, she's tasked with looking after the Mint a neighborhood her family has controlled for a long time. She meets an old friend who talks her into joining the Forty Elephants gang run by Mary Carr, something that Alice doesn't usually do, she usually works alone and doesn't take orders from others. The first part of the book is the setup, Alice integrates herself into the gang and shows her prowess at collecting, impressing Mary along the way. Alice also works as a maid for a wealthy man who she intends to steal from, but she feels sorry for his wife who he regularly abuses. The second part of the book slows down, Alice is organizing the big score, one that she thinks will set her and the gang up for a long while. I enjoyed the historical aspects of this book, the author really brings to life the 1920's, the period dress and how women were expected to marry and bear children anything different was frowned upon. I would recommend. Thanks to #Netgalley and #Blackstone Publishing for the ARC.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sue Barnes

    Surprised how much I liked this book. So different from the ones I normally read. Really good.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jenn Lynn Adams

    Forty Elephants is the historical fiction account of Alice Diamond, female leader of London’s shoplifting gang. Alice, defacto leader of The Mint with her father’s absence in prison, is enlisted as a member of the Forty Elephants after her brother incurs a debt. By joining the gang and using her skills at “collecting,” she’s able to easily pay off the debt and, upon introspection, finds she loves being in the big game. But when her boss turns down a huge job at one of the poshest department stor Forty Elephants is the historical fiction account of Alice Diamond, female leader of London’s shoplifting gang. Alice, defacto leader of The Mint with her father’s absence in prison, is enlisted as a member of the Forty Elephants after her brother incurs a debt. By joining the gang and using her skills at “collecting,” she’s able to easily pay off the debt and, upon introspection, finds she loves being in the big game. But when her boss turns down a huge job at one of the poshest department stores and threatens Alice’s family, how will she respond? If you love Peaky Blinders, you’ll enjoy the story of Alice Diamond!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    This is a story about women and power and how three particular women chose to, or were forced to, wield their power in a man’s world that dictated a place for women that none of them were willing to confine themselves to. There are three women at the heart of this story; Kate Meyrick, the Nightclub Queen, Mary Carr, Queen of the Forty Elephants, and Alice Diamond, the de facto crime boss of The Mint, a notorious working-class AND criminal-class section of London. The Forty Elephants were real, as This is a story about women and power and how three particular women chose to, or were forced to, wield their power in a man’s world that dictated a place for women that none of them were willing to confine themselves to. There are three women at the heart of this story; Kate Meyrick, the Nightclub Queen, Mary Carr, Queen of the Forty Elephants, and Alice Diamond, the de facto crime boss of The Mint, a notorious working-class AND criminal-class section of London. The Forty Elephants were real, as were Kate Meyrick, Mary Carr and Alice Diamond. Meyrick was a female nightclub owner at a time when “ladies” at least were not supposed to frequent nightclubs – let alone own them. But in the early 1920s when this book takes place, a lot of the old rules had been buried in poorly marked graves on the continent along with a generation of England’s young men. As this story begins, Mary Carr is the current boss of the Forty Elephants, a notorious all-girl gang of shoplifters who were the darling of the tabloids, the bane of the police, and the plague of locusts that ravaged new department stores like Selfridge’s as well as the homes and persons of people with more money than the sense not to flaunt it with easily pocketable items in public. Alice Diamond in 1926 But this is Alice Diamond’s story, while Meyrick and Carr are both her mirrors and the stepping stones she uses to reach a pinnacle of criminal success that women were not supposed to even aspire to, let alone succeed at reaching. It’s not a pretty story – but it is a fascinating one. All the better for being steeped in history. Escape Rating B+: What made this such an interesting story is the way that it is Alice Diamond’s coming-into-power story in a realm that we don’t often see women conquer and that we’re not really supposed to celebrate when anyone does. What made Alice special, at least according to this fictionalized account, was that the power she grasped and wielded wasn’t done the way that women traditionally held that kind of power. That is at least part of the purpose of Meyrick and Carr in Alice’s story. Both of them chose, or got shoved into, or submitted to the kind of power that they wielded in organizations that were female dominated, specifically by them, but were ultimately controlled by men either overtly or covertly. They looked dominant but that was an illusion. In reality, they still operated in a man’s world and kept a woman’s place in it. Alice takes the reins, first of The Mint and eventually of the Forty Elephants, of power as simply power. She never accepts anything less than a true partnership – or an honest war – with any of the male-dominated gangs. She works with them but not for them and never in a subservient position. Which also means she wields control like they do and does the same kind of dirty jobs they do. Up to and including murder. So the idea of the Forty Elephants may seem lighthearted as well as light-fingered, but even this fictionalized version of it is anything but. Still, it’s a fascinating portrait of the gangster as a young woman coming into her own and bringing other women up with her. It’s dark and gritty and occasionally gruesome but very compelling – possibly because of all of the above – and I’m glad I read it. (Reading this has also sent me down lots of lovely internet rabbit holes, not just about the Forty Elephants but also about the TV series Peaky Blinders which I’m now extremely tempted to watch!) Back to books – Alice Diamond is such an interesting character that this is not the only book about her on the horizon. Now that I’ve finished The Forty Elephants I’m very curious to see how Alice is portrayed in Queen of Thieves by Beezy Marsh, coming out in January. Originally published at Reading Reality

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lorin (paperbackbish)

    This is a novel about Alice Diamond (aka Diamond Annie) and her rise to leader of the Forty Elephants gang in 1920s London. I honestly knew nothing about this all-female gang, so I was pleasantly surprised to find historical fiction about it! Obviously, gangs are not all martinis and partying with your friends, and a bit of violence is included in the story as well. There are really two different story arcs in this book, which is nice because you're almost getting two tales for the price of one. This is a novel about Alice Diamond (aka Diamond Annie) and her rise to leader of the Forty Elephants gang in 1920s London. I honestly knew nothing about this all-female gang, so I was pleasantly surprised to find historical fiction about it! Obviously, gangs are not all martinis and partying with your friends, and a bit of violence is included in the story as well. There are really two different story arcs in this book, which is nice because you're almost getting two tales for the price of one. The first part details Alice's introduction to the gang and defense of her brother, while part two covers her first major heist as the new leader of the Forty Elephants. The main operation of the gang is shoplifting; they "collect" luxury items from popular department stores and then fence these items for cash. I found the story pretty fast-paced, with some decent character development and lovely prose. The POV is entirely that of Alice, so no switching back and forth between characters in this novel. I love when historical fiction is able to teach me something about history, and this one succeeded! Thank you to Erin Bledsoe, Blackstone Publishing, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this ARC!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mary Beth

    Looking for a suspenseful historical mystery set in London in the early 20th century? The Forty Elephants is a great choice. Alice has led a rough life. She is a thief, because that is how her family survives. Her dad is in prison, her brother is mostly useless, and she is a very good thief. As the book begins, she is working in the 43 Club at night, taking careless patrons' wallets, purses and jewelry, and as a lady's maid in the daytime, with the intent to rob the house. One night, one of the c Looking for a suspenseful historical mystery set in London in the early 20th century? The Forty Elephants is a great choice. Alice has led a rough life. She is a thief, because that is how her family survives. Her dad is in prison, her brother is mostly useless, and she is a very good thief. As the book begins, she is working in the 43 Club at night, taking careless patrons' wallets, purses and jewelry, and as a lady's maid in the daytime, with the intent to rob the house. One night, one of the club patrons is her old friend Maggie. She is now working with The Forty Elephants gang, a group of women thieves. She's tries to entice Alice to join them, but Alice wants nothing to do with gangs. But once her brother is returned to their flat, beaten to a pulp, and owing a huge amount of money, she has no choice. Alice is a fabulous character - even though she's doing illegal things, you can't help but cheer for her. The book discusses the cycle of poverty and crime that is virtually impossible to escape from, domestic abuse, and the power of female entrepreneurship in spite of overwhelming odds. Bledsoe has written a thrilling book that mystery lovers will enjoy. Thanks to Netgalley for the advance copy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Trish MacEnulty

    If you have a weakness for lawless female characters, as I do, then this is the book for you. The Forty Elephants was my first beach read of the season, and I got a sunburn because I was so engrossed. Based on the true story of Alice Diamond and a gang of women shoplifters, this book takes place in the grittiest neighborhoods of 1920s London. Alice is the daughter of the Mint’s ruling patriarch, but her father has been locked up, and she’s left trying to keep the criminal elements of the neighbor If you have a weakness for lawless female characters, as I do, then this is the book for you. The Forty Elephants was my first beach read of the season, and I got a sunburn because I was so engrossed. Based on the true story of Alice Diamond and a gang of women shoplifters, this book takes place in the grittiest neighborhoods of 1920s London. Alice is the daughter of the Mint’s ruling patriarch, but her father has been locked up, and she’s left trying to keep the criminal elements of the neighborhood free from the pervasive gangs and from the clutches of the police. She barely makes ends meet, robbing from her customers at the local nightclub and working as a maid for a wealthy theater producer and his tormented wife during the day. She’s a natural leader who takes care of her own, but when she’s been crossed, she shows no mercy. The book is written in a terse, hard-boiled style that suits the story perfectly. The tension is non-stop, and, while you might not want to have Alice over to your house for tea, you would surely want her at your side in a battle. A version of this review appeared in The Historical Novel Review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Thomas

    The Forty Elephants by Erin Bledsoe 9781665019897 348 Pages Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Release Date: August 23, 2022 Fiction, Historical Fiction, 1920s, British, Shoplifting, Gangs Alice Diamond is the head of her family while her father is in jail. The Diamonds have always overseen the Mint area and take care of the families that live there. She is a collector, another name for pickpocket and learned from her father. Her brother, Tommy, is a safe cracker. When he is caught after breaking into t The Forty Elephants by Erin Bledsoe 9781665019897 348 Pages Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Release Date: August 23, 2022 Fiction, Historical Fiction, 1920s, British, Shoplifting, Gangs Alice Diamond is the head of her family while her father is in jail. The Diamonds have always overseen the Mint area and take care of the families that live there. She is a collector, another name for pickpocket and learned from her father. Her brother, Tommy, is a safe cracker. When he is caught after breaking into the safe of a rival family’s gang, Alice must make things right. Her friend Maggie is back in town and is a part of the Forty Elephants, a gang of women collectors. An opportunity arises where Alice can score big and settle all the outstanding debts but if she fails, she will lose everything. The book has a fast pace, the characters are very developed, and it is written in the first-person point of view. There are several businesswomen along with Alice and Maggie. I enjoy reading books with strong women and this book is full of them. If you like strong women characters, you will enjoy this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. I had this one in my lineup to read for a bit, and now I'm kicking myself for not jumping in sooner! Bledsoe paints a gritty, engaging, vibrant life of Alice Diamond. There were enough name drops throughout the book that I would pause to look up some people to see if they were real or fictitious, and I was pleased how the author stuck to the biggest truths of Diamond's life. The biggest change is a SPOILER Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. I had this one in my lineup to read for a bit, and now I'm kicking myself for not jumping in sooner! Bledsoe paints a gritty, engaging, vibrant life of Alice Diamond. There were enough name drops throughout the book that I would pause to look up some people to see if they were real or fictitious, and I was pleased how the author stuck to the biggest truths of Diamond's life. The biggest change is a SPOILER so I won't drop it, but I'm curious why the author chose that twist instead of the real life way the thing went. Maybe it just made for a better story, overall. I loved the bravery, ruthlessness, hard vulnerability of Alice. Yes-she was a criminal, a murder, a thief, but-she strikes me as a Robin Hood with brass knuckles in a sort of way. I really, really enjoyed this book, and it was so engaging I was sucked in from the first page. I tore through it once I got started, and I recommend this to anyone who lives history, England, gangs, and a good story.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlyn High

    Read this if you: -love shows like Peaky Blinders -enjoy a story with a strong female lead -like books set in the 1920’s   Based on a true story, this book follows Alice Diamond as she makes her way from The Mint to leading The Forty Elephants, the first all-female gang in London. With her father in jail and her brother in trouble with the McDonald gang, Alice has to find a way to protect her home and her family. She decides to join a gang of women known for shoplifting even though her father has alw Read this if you: -love shows like Peaky Blinders -enjoy a story with a strong female lead -like books set in the 1920’s   Based on a true story, this book follows Alice Diamond as she makes her way from The Mint to leading The Forty Elephants, the first all-female gang in London. With her father in jail and her brother in trouble with the McDonald gang, Alice has to find a way to protect her home and her family. She decides to join a gang of women known for shoplifting even though her father has always taught her to stay out of any gang business. Alice believes she can be both Alice Diamond of the Mint and Diamond Annie of the Forty Elephants but she soon realizes that keeping the two separate is much more difficult than she thought.   This book is fast-paced with lots of action and unforgettable characters.  Alice Diamond is bold, passionate and loyal to those she loves.  The author does a great job helping the reader understand Alice’s motives for every decision that she makes. The writing style and all of the action of the story really keep you hooked.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Chiger

    This book ticked all the boxes: strong female protagonists, historical fiction, London, gritty underworld. But I became disenchanted about halfway through. You know how some books don't have much in the way of plot? This had almost too much plot, and not all of the storylines get resolved, to the point that it must be part one of a series. (And I don't like when books the are intentionally left open-ended for that reason are not labeled as such; it feels deceptive to me.) Worse, the book didn't This book ticked all the boxes: strong female protagonists, historical fiction, London, gritty underworld. But I became disenchanted about halfway through. You know how some books don't have much in the way of plot? This had almost too much plot, and not all of the storylines get resolved, to the point that it must be part one of a series. (And I don't like when books the are intentionally left open-ended for that reason are not labeled as such; it feels deceptive to me.) Worse, the book didn't feel grounded in 1920s London, despite the likes of Selfridges playing a key role. The Mint, where the narrator was from, felt more like a stereotypical Wild West town than a crowded, cramped London neighborhood. What's more, though I know the protagonist is based on a real woman, she simply didn't seem realistic. Thank you, Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley, for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jazzie077

    The Forty Elephants by Erin Bledsoe. Pub Date: August 23, 2022. Rating: 4 stars. Set in 1920s London, this is the story of the first female gang in London, rich in history but slow in execution. I was really excited to read this story because I love new ideas in historical fiction and I have never read a novel about an all female gang. It's a fascinating story with a lot of potential for depth, but I felt the execution was surface level with slow story building. I loved the scenery, the female e The Forty Elephants by Erin Bledsoe. Pub Date: August 23, 2022. Rating: 4 stars. Set in 1920s London, this is the story of the first female gang in London, rich in history but slow in execution. I was really excited to read this story because I love new ideas in historical fiction and I have never read a novel about an all female gang. It's a fascinating story with a lot of potential for depth, but I felt the execution was surface level with slow story building. I loved the scenery, the female empowerment and the historical aspects of this novel. Overall, interesting storyline topic with a lot of historical significance to explore. Thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for this e-arc in exchange for my honest review. #netgalley #thefortyelephants

  22. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    Forty Elephants was one of the biggest and most feared all-female gangs in the London Underworld. During a time when women were expected to stay quiet and do as they were told, the women in the Forty Elephants followed no rules. Inspired by the true story of Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants this story follows Diamond trying to survive the Mint- the gritty neighbourhood her family has run for generations. When her father goes to jail again, and her brother finds himself in trouble, Alice has Forty Elephants was one of the biggest and most feared all-female gangs in the London Underworld. During a time when women were expected to stay quiet and do as they were told, the women in the Forty Elephants followed no rules. Inspired by the true story of Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants this story follows Diamond trying to survive the Mint- the gritty neighbourhood her family has run for generations. When her father goes to jail again, and her brother finds himself in trouble, Alice has to find a way to protect those she loves. Recruited by Mary Carr, Alice decides to break her father’s rules of no gangs and joins the Elephants in attempt to save her family. With a taste of success, it’s not long before Alice wants to prove she can do more. This book is what I love most about Historical Fiction; learning more about a time period in History while also enjoying a great story. I loved Alice. She is so determined and driven to protect her family at all costs. Alice is not only fighting against those who are trying to harm her family – but also fighting to find herself- she wants to be strong and not care for those she must hurt on her path to save her family, but she can’t help the connects she is making with others. The author did a great job at showing the struggles of women during the time period—trying to push outside the box of what was expected of them. Character development was fantastic, added to a great pace and there is a story you can’t put down. Thank you NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for providing me with an ARC of this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Polly Krize

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest. Based on Alice Diamond and her Forty Elephants gang, this is a wonderful read. London in the 1920s sees Alice scrambling to survive, protecting her sister, brother and mother in a man's world of brutal gangs and violence. Survival depends on her brains as well as brawn, and Alice finds herself challenged to lead her gang and be fair to them all. Excellent read and recommended. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest. Based on Alice Diamond and her Forty Elephants gang, this is a wonderful read. London in the 1920s sees Alice scrambling to survive, protecting her sister, brother and mother in a man's world of brutal gangs and violence. Survival depends on her brains as well as brawn, and Alice finds herself challenged to lead her gang and be fair to them all. Excellent read and recommended.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    The Forty Elephants by Erin Bledsoe is a fun, lively read about an all-female London-based gang. To me it was somewhat reminiscent of the Peaky Blinders but slightly less violent. I found it to be a consuming, escapist read and quite fun. I would gladly read a sequel should the author decide to pen one. Many thanks to Goodreads and Blackstone Publishing for the chance to read this delightful debut.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Guerra

    Thank you NetGalley for the eARC. This is one of the best books I have read this year. It deserves to be a movie, a show , anything.... It is so good. I had never heard of the Forty Elephants before or Alice Diamond but now I am hooked! Move over Peaky Blinders, the competition is coming...and they are coming in high heels! Thank you for the journey into their world.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline Marie

    I devoured this book! The writing is complex and compelling. It weaves you through the gritty underbelly of London through the eyes of a strong female protagonist. Feminist themes are explored through a heartfelt and suspenseful story of Alice and the forty elephants so well. I appreciated the character development that made me feel fully vested in the storyline.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tricia Crary

    I received an advanced digital copy of this title for my role as a librarian. I really enjoyed the character and place development throughout this story. The way that triumphs and tragedies were woven together to achieve the ultimate goal for a woman, beautiful.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mary Korey

    This is not the sort of book I usually read or like. The characters make, what I consider, bad choices and the story makes those choices look good. However, the characters are complex, the plot twists and turns, and I do like stories of strong women.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gabi

    I had no idea what to expect when starting this as I purchased it primarily because it was on sale. I felt so connected to the main character Alice and definitely was rooting for the bad main character but ya know it happens. Trying to read fast through tears at the end.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Donna J. Murphy

    I didn’t know this story but since I finished the book, I did some research and there are several non fiction books on Diamond Annie also. This was an incredible story about a true life bad ass woman.

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