‘A visual delight’ The Times
‘A splendidly vital recreation of Georgian London’ Sunday Times
‘Tell me, then: would you say you are innocent or experienced?’
1792. Uprooted from their quiet Dorset village to the riotous streets of London, young Jem Kellaway and his family feel very far from home. They struggle to find their place in this tumultuous city, still alive with the repercussions of the blood-splattered French Revolution.
Luckily, streetwise Maggie Butterfield is on hand to show Jem the ropes. Together they encounter the neighbour they’ve been warned about: radical poet and artist William Blake. Jem and Maggie’s passage from innocence to experience becomes the very stuff of poetic inspiration…
'A subtle clarity of style, quirky but seldom over-drawn characters, engaging touches of domestic detail and a splendidly vital recreation of Georgian London'
'Vivid, romantic and pacey'
'Those who admired Chevalier's atmospheric evocation of 17th-century Delft will find much to enjoy in her vivid reconstruction of late 18th-century London'
'Burning Bright is an ambitious, impressively-researched novel…You can almost smell the smoke and mildewed clothes, see the gaunt, pock-marked faces of people struggling to survive and sense Jem's wonder as he gazes across the murky Thames to a perplexing world'
About the author
Tracy Chevalier is the author of six novels, including the international bestseller Girl with a Pearl Earring, Remarkable Creatures, The Virgin Blue, Falling Angels, and The Lady and the Unicorn. Born in Washington, DC, she moved to London in 1984, where she lives with her husband and son. She has a website at www.tchevalier.com.
Author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, set in the home/studio of Vermeer, and other novels, Chevalier turns in an oblique look at poet and painter William Blake (1757 1827). Following the accidental death of their middle son, the Kellaways, a Dorsetshire chair maker and family, arrive in London's Lambeth district during the anti-Jacobin scare of 1792. Thomas Kellaway talks his way into set design work for the amiable circus impresario Philip Astley, whose fireworks displays provide the same rallying point that the guillotine is providing in Paris. Astley's libertine horseman son, John, sets his sights on Kellaway's daughter, Maisie (an attention she rather demurely returns). Meanwhile, youngest surviving Kellaway boy Jem falls for poor, sexy firebrand Maggie Butterfield. Blake, who imagined heaven and hell as equally incandescent and earth as the point where the two worlds converge, is portrayed as a murky Friar Laurence figure whose task is to bind and loosen the skeins of young love going on around him that is, until a Royalist mob intrudes into his garden to sound out his rather advanced views on liberty, equality and fraternity. While the setting is dramatically fertile, there's no spark to the dialogue or plot, and allusions to Blake's work and themes are overbaked.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Couldn't get into book like other chevalier novels unfortunately not recommended ...