Jan 14, 2010

Review: A Book of Fires (by Jane Borodale)

"Reminiscent of Year of Wonders, a captivating debut novel of fireworks, fortune, and a young woman's redemption."

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Barnes and Noble)

"It is 1752 and seventeen-year-old Agnes Trussel arrives in London pregnant with an unwanted child. Lost and frightened, she finds herself at the home of Mr. J. Blacklock, a brooding fireworks maker who hires Agnes as an apprentice. As she learns to make rockets, portfires, and fiery rain, she slowly gains his trust and joins his quest to make the most spectacular fireworks the world has ever seen.

Jane Borodale offers a masterful portrayal of a relationship as mysterious and tempestuous as any the Bront√ęs conceived. Her portrait of 1750s London is unforgettable, from the grimy streets to the inner workings of a household where little is as it seems. Through it all, the clock is ticking, for Agnes's secret will not stay secret forever.

Deeply atmospheric and intimately told from Agnes's perspective, The Book of Fires will appeal to readers of Geraldine Brooks, Sarah Waters, Sheri Holman, and Michel Faber."

For more information, visit Jane Borodale's website.


This was a totally different kind of book for me to read, but I was pleasantly surprised. Agnes is the main character in the book, and she is the ultimate example of a survivor. Her father struggled to keep food on the table for his large family, and Agnes and her mother did their very best to keep the family fed. Agnes discovers she is pregnant, and she flees from the family home in the middle of the night. She did not want to further burden her family with another mouth to feed, and she did not want to bring shame to the family. She journeys to London and fate delivers her to the doorstep of Mr. Blacklock.

She tries desperately to hide her pregnancy from everyone, and comes up with a somewhat devious plan for her future. But once again, her plans did not materialize. One devastating turn of events after another show how resilient Agnes is, and the surprise ending still has me shaking my head. What an intriguing story!

This book was a refreshing change from the normal type of novel. I would give this book a rating of 5 out of 5, and highly recommend it to everyone.

I received a complimentary copy of The Book Of Fires from Penguin Book Club in exchange for my honest review.

* Pub. Date: January 2010
* Publisher: Penguin Group
* ISBN-13: 9780670021062
* ISBN: 0670021067

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