This debut book by Jane Borodale was great. While the beginning of the story was not uncommon, the stuff that followed as well as the ending were extraordinary. The writing was lovely and fit well with the time period (1750s). I know it took me a little longer to get to this one, but I had a number of books set in England/UK and I tried to spread them out a little. I'm so glad I finally got to this one. I loved it.
It was a little odd that Agnes ended up as Blacklock's assistant so quickly. Perhaps her saw that she was desperate or he saw something else and didn't want to send her away. Whatever the reason it probably saved Agnes's life.
I adored Agnes. I didn't always agree with her decisions, but she stole my heart right from the beginning. I kept hoping that she was going to find someone she could confide in. The others in Blacklock's employ were a eccentric bunch. With all of their bickering and mistrust, it was hard to tell what really was going on there. I found it hard to like Blacklock. He kept disappearing and working in secret. I was hoping that he too would find a confidante.
I loved all of the information about fireworks. Some of the chemistry and preparations were over my head, but it was still really interesting stuff. We almost take fireworks for granted now. It was great to read about the art as it was hundreds of years ago.
The ending was really good and a huge surprise. I wasn't expecting that at all. I read part of it twice because it confused me and I was unsure if I read it correctly. I should probably leave it there before I reveal something I shouldn't.
The listening ear should always be left ajar to possibility.
ague (page 6) - fever
coppice (page 19) - wood
gibbet (page 39) - gallows
malapert (page 105) - bold in speech or behaviour
jerkin (page 133) - sleeveless coat or tunic
victuals (page 147) - provisions
orpiment (page 183) - yellow mineral
assizes (page 192) - inquest
periwig (page 193) - hairpiece
fustian (page 206) - cotton-linen cloth (in this case)
burette (page 278) - tube for measuring liquid
I'd definitely recommend this book.
Want to read another review? Here's one from Meaghan at A Cineaste's Bookshelf and another from Heather at Books and Quilts.
For more information about this book or to have a peek inside, please visit Penguin'swebsite.
For more information about the author and other cool stuff, please visit Jane Borodale's website.
I'd like to thank those nice people at Penguin for this review copy.
The Book of Fires: A Novel by Jan Borodale, Viking (Penguin), ©2010. ISBN 9780670021062(Hardcover), 356p.