Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier
Format: Hardback, 308 pages
First Line: There was something humiliating about waiting in a cart on a busy London street with all your possessions stacked around you, on show to the curious public.
From the inside cover: No. 13 Hercules Buildings, Lambeth, 1792. Poet, artist, and printer William Blake – local eccentric and political radical – works anonymously amidst the raucous din of a teeming, jittery London. Across the Channel, revolution is imploding in France. Nearby, the renowned Astley’s Circus is rehearsing its upcoming show, and next door the Kellaway family, recently arrived from the countryside, is moving in. Maggie Butterfield, the streetwise daughter of a local rogue, is looking for trouble – or at least a friend. When she and young Jem Kellaway are drawn into Blake’s spell, the chance meeting of three unusual souls sets the stage for an impassioned journey. Jem and Maggie spark the imagination of the poet, influencing one of the greatest and most mystical works in English literature, Songs of the Innocence and of Experience.
Burning Bright evokes the full pageantry of Georgian London: its circus spectacles mustard factories, pubs and bawdy songs, the grandeur of Westminster Abbey and the secrets of Cut-Throat Lane. Behind these lie the greater movements of an era: the influence of a nearby revolution, the mustering of forces loyal to the Crown, and the agonies of being an independent thinker in an age suspicious of dissent.
As she did in the bestselling Girl Wit a Pearl Earring, Chevalier brilliantly captures an era and a sense of place, at the same time deftly evoking an artist’s vision. Overflowing with energy, enterprise, and the power of creation, Burning Bright brings us a vivid story of the unpredictable, exhilarating passage toward adulthood.
My Thoughts: I found this book in the clearance section, and bought it because it sounded interesting. I typically like historical fiction and I’m a sucker for a book that takes place in London, but I was really disappointed in this one.
It was my first time to read Chevalier, and I’m not sure if I’ll read anything by her again. It wasn’t that it was a bad book, it was just boring. I couldn’t get into it and because of this, it took me a long time to get through it. I give this book 2 stars. If you’ve read Burning Bright, let me know what you thought of it.
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