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Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier

Burning Bright

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Tracy Chevalier's new novel is set in London at the end of the eighteenth century and its a wonderful read on every level. It is three years after the French Revolution; paranoia and unrest are in the air and we are invited to stay in a gerry-built terrace house on the seamy South Bank near Westminster Bridge, part of the estate owned by a flamboyant circus impresario. One of the neighbours is William Blake, poet, artist, revolutionary and most famously author of the seditious poem Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright. We follow the fortunes of teenager Jem and his family, newly up from Dorset, and the low life they encounter.

If you like Tracy Chevalier you might also like to read books by Philipp Meyer, Philippa Gregory and Rose Tremain.


Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier

Flames and funerals, circus feats and seduction, neighbours and nakedness: Tracy Chevalier's Burning Bright sparkles with historical drama. London 1792. The Kellaways move from familiar rural Dorset to the tumult of a cramped, unforgiving city. They are leaving behind a terrible loss, a blow that only a completely new life may soften. Against the backdrop of a city jittery over the increasingly bloody French Revolution, a surprising bond forms between Jem, the youngest Kellaway boy, and streetwise Londoner Maggie Butterfield. Their friendship takes a dramatic turn when they become entangled in the life of their neighbour, the printer, poet and radical, William Blake. He is a guiding spirit as Jem and Maggie navigate the unpredictable, exhilarating passage from innocence to experience. Their journey inspires one of Blake's most entrancing works. Georgian London is recreated as vividly in Burning Bright as 17th-century Delft was in Tracy Chevalier's bestselling masterpiece, Girl with a Pearl Earring. This novel is perfect for fans of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus and Essie Fox's Somnambulist.


'A subtle clarity of style, quirky but seldom over-drawn characters, engaging touches of domestic detail and a splendidly vital recreation of Georgian London'
Sunday Times

'Vivid, romantic and pacey'
Daily Mail

'Those who admired Chevalier's atmospheric evocation of 17th-century Delft will find much to enjoy in her vivid reconstruction of late 18th-century London'

'Burning Bright is an ambitious, impressively-researched novel...You can almost smell the smoke and mildewed clothes, see the gaunt, pock-marked faces of people struggling to survive and sense Jem's wonder as he gazes across the murky Thames to a perplexing world'
Daily Express

About the Author

Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier is the author of six previous novels, including the international bestseller Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Virgin Blue, Falling Angels, The Lady and the Unicorn, Burning Bright and Remarkable Creatures. Born in Washington, DC, she moved to London in 1984, where she lives with her husband and son.

The film of Girl with a Pearl Earring, starring Colin Firth as Vermeer, was released in the UK in January. It was nominated for 10 BAFTAs and two Academy Awards.

Photograph © Eammon McCabe

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Book Info

Publication date

4th February 2008


Tracy Chevalier

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Harper an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


416 pages


Literary Fiction
Historical Fiction
eBook Favourites

Historical fiction



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