Friday, 7 October 2011

Friday Recommends #3

It's friday yet again, and you know what that means! It's time for Friday Recommends!
This week I have picked a book that I wouldn't otherwise have read, if it hadn't been recommended to me. This one was sent to me by the lovely Calum at The Secret Writer a couple of years ago, and I absolutely adored it!

The Book of Fires by Jane Borodale
Waterstone's synopsis:

A stunning historical novel, 'The Book of Fires' is the unforgettable story of Agnes Trussel -- and love, fireworks and redemption. Brought up in rural Sussex, seventeen-year-old Agnes Trussel is carrying an unwanted child. Taking advantage of the death of her elderly neighbour, Agnes steals her savings and runs away to London. On her way she encounters the intriguing Lettice Talbot who promises that she will help Agnes upon their arrival. But Agnes soon becomes lost in the dark, labyrinthine city. She ends up at the household of John Blacklock, laconic firework-maker, becoming his first female assistant. The months pass and it becomes increasingly difficult for Agnes to conceal her secret. Soon she meets Cornelius Soul, seller of gunpowder, and hatches a plan which could save her from ruin. Yet why does John Blacklock so vehemently disapprove of Mr Soul? And what exactly is he keeping from her? Could the housekeeper, Mrs Blight, with her thirst for accounts of hangings, suspect her crime or condition? Historical fiction at its very best, 'The Book of Fires' is utterly intriguing, completely compelling and impossible to put down.

Jane Borodale is definitely an author to be looking out for in the future. The Book of Fires is her debut novel, which follows the story of Agnes Trussel, a Seventeen-year-old girl from rural Sussex, who at the beginning of the novel finds herself in the 'family way' and leaves her home for London to spare her family the shame of her condition.
Upon moving to London she finds herself suddenly in the employment of John Blackstock, a charming, pioneering pyrotechnist, making and experimenting with fireworks.

Agnes is a very likeable character, and found it easy to sympathise with her Linkthroughout the novel. When her relationship with John Blackstock slowly begins to deepen, you find yourself hoping even more that things will go right for Agnes, and that their relationship will fully develop.
Although Agnes' circumstances do not change as she had hoped them to, and she suffers great sadness towards the end of the novel, the final chapters are far from dissatisfying - they could even be called heart-warming.

The written style of the novel was beautiful, and could even be described as quite poetic in places. Borodale uses a lot of symbolic language, particularly when describing death and life, and she often describes natural scenes at length, focusing particularly on new, fresh life, which becomes very symbolic of Agnes' developing pregnancy. Her descriptions of death however, particularly when Agnes enters London for the first time, are there to remind us that life is not only beautiful, but fragile.

A stunningly beautiful debut novel that has stuck with me for a very long time, and is likely to stick with me for a while longer! Definitely a novel I would re-read many times over!

You can read a preview of The Book of Fires on the Waterstone's website. Click here to find it.


Chocolate Chunky Munkie said...

I still have to read this book! It's been sat on my kindle tbr pile for nearly a year now.


Ps/ I'm holding an international book giveaway, chance to win one of three books :D

Pen to Paper said...

You definitely need to get it read, Jen! I really enjoyed it! xxx

Colleen said...

Thanks for this review! I hadn't heard of this one before, but I've definitely added it to my wishlist! Sounds good. :)

Rea said...

When I picked up this book, completely on a whim, and sat down with it, I didn't resurface until I'd finished it. I *adored* it! So, so much. It was so sad but, as you said, bittersweet by the end. Do you ever get those books where they were so good that anything you read after them pales in comparaison because this one book is just stuck in your mind and will not let you go? I had that with this book!

I gave it to my mum to read but I'm not sure that she ever did.

Pen to Paper said...

Rea, you should convince your Mum to read it! I'm so glad we agree on this one - I really really loved it! It's a stunningly beautiful read!

:) Dani.

desitheblonde said...

that boo sound great and love the cover of it

Brittany C. said...

Looks like a great read! Thank you for taking the time to introduce us to it :)

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