Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Burning Bright

This is my second Tracy Chevalier book. I hadn't actually planned on getting it. It just caught my eye in the bookshop and I bought it, just before Christmas! Now, on to the review!


Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier
First published by HarperCollins in 2007 (this edition by Harper in 2008)






Description: (from back cover)
London, 1972. The Kellaways move from rural Dorset to the tumult of a cramped, unforgiving city. They are leaving behind a terrible loss, a blow that only a completely new life may soften.
Against the backdrop of a city jittery over the increasingly bloody French Revolution, a surprising bond forms between Jem, the youngest Kellaway boy, and streetwise Londoner Maggie Butterfield. Their friendship takes a dramatic turn when they become entangled in the life of their neighbour, the printer, poet and radical, William Blake. He is a guiding spirit as Jem and Maggie navigate the unpredictable, exhilarating passage from innocence to experience. Their journey influences one of Blake's most entrancing works.


Opinions:
This was such an easy book to get into! Even from the very beginning! I didn't have enough time at first, but when I found some on Saturday, I practically devoured the book! I stayed up until very late, because I just had to finish it! (That actually happens far too many times, to be honest). Now, on to the actual review.

The book tells the story of a family, the Kellaways, who leave their home in Dorset and come to live in London, to escape their memories. Upon arriving, they realise that is not so easy to do, but stay there anyway, with the father working for Mr Astley (of Astley's Circus - a famous London circus in the 1790s). Jem, the youngest child, meets Maggie, a Londoner who just happened to be there when the Kellaways were moving into their house. Together they embark on all sorts of adventures, many of them revolving around the well-known radical Mr William Blake.

I had actually only heard of William Blake, prior to reading this novel. I did recognise his name, but I did not know what he was known for. Turns out he was actually a very well known poet, as well as a printer.

The book is very well written and instantly drew me in. The characters are wonderfully constructed. The frightened Kellaways, who have left their home in Dorset and are now living in the big city; Maggie, a girl who wants to show she is tough-as-nails, but is really quite vulnerable; the Astleys, proprietors of the circus that seems to dominate everyone's lives; William Blake, who plays such an important role in the whole story. Everyone mentioned in this book, seems to play some important part in the story, every detail is important. The descriptions of the places and goings-on (going-on's ???) in the book are just wonderful! I think Chevalier has managed to describe the fun and the intrigue (both in front of and behind the scenes) of the circus.

As you have probably gathered by now, I enjoyed this book very much! I think Tracy Chevalier is getting to be one of my favourite authors. She has such a great style of writing. I would definitely recommend reading it!

Rating: 9/10


Author:
You can read more about the author in my post on Remarkable Creatures.
Clarification: Tracy Chevalier was born in America, but as she currently resides in England and her book was first published in the UK, I believe she qualifies for the BBC 2011. If not, please let me know!

Counts as Book #17 in my 100 Books In A Year Challenge and as Book #7 in my British Books Challenge 2011! 

1 comment:

  1. Hi
    Really enjoyed your review. I've read all Tracy Chevalier's books except this one! Its been waiting on a shelf for a long time but I was put off reading it by a number of bad reviews. I do like TC's writing style though so now I've read this its encouraged me to pick it up again.
    Thanks - you should read Girl with a Pearl Earring which is also very good.

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