Book Title: Burning Bright
Author: Tracy Chevalier
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published Date: March 20, 2007
Rating: 3 stars
This #TBT review was originally posted on January 10, 2008 and was read for a number of reading challenges: A to Z Titles (B); Themed Challenge; Back to History Challenge; Book Around the World (England) and 101 Books in 1,001 Days.
After thoroughly enjoying “Girl with Pearl Earring,” I was looking forward to a second go at reading a Tracy Chevalier novel. There are definite highlights to this book, but then some low points as well. The development of the atmosphere and climate of 1790s England is truly amazing. I could close my eyes and feel as though I was on the streets of London near Haymarket in a heartbeat. The characters are well-defined from main to secondary in a few short sentences the reader “gets” what they are all about.
Where I find “Burning Bright” falls short is in the plot. Throughout the book, I kept wondering where the story was going…meandered a bit off track three-quarters of the way through, but neatly tied up at the end.
Here are the basics of the story…family of four moves from the English countryside to big bad London after the untimely death of the favorite son, and the fact that the owner of the circus that came to town off-handedly offered the father a job making Windsor chairs. Another family of four…Londoners born and bred are neighbors…fatefully befriend the newcomers (nice contrast of opposites, which plays a big role in some of Blake’s theories). Add to the mix the famous essayist William Blake as another neighbor and you have a story.
I have to confess that at the end of the book I did want to learn more of the behind the scenes of William Blake’s life as his character in the book fascinated me along with the owner of the circus, Philip Astley (who I had believed all along throughout the book was a fabricated character). In the end, this book is a fast read and gave me insight to a time in history that had been dark previously.