A quick read. This is a decent collection of short stories with a cohesive theme that ties them together well. All of the stories are based on real people or events, mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries. There were obvious homages to Dickens and Twain, and some seemed reminiscent to me of Betty Smith and Kate Chopin. Unfortunately though, I don't think Donoghue is quite up to the challenge of these writing styles. With the exception of perhaps the first story "Man & Boy" (a first person speech to an elephant from its handler) and "The Gift" (a series of letters to the Children's Aid Society from the parents of an orphan), the narration was just not distinctive enough. I suppose every piece of historical metafiction will pale in comparison to David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas", but still, I think more effort could have been made to make each story unique.