Burning Bright is the latest novel by Tracy Chevalier, the author of Girl With a Pearl Earring. Like GWAPE, Burning Bright is based on a famous figure, in this case the poet, artist and engraver William Blake. Blake is best known for his poetry, particularly the collections Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. He was, however, a well-regarded painter, and experimented with new methods of engraving.
In this book Blake is an important background figure who becomes involved with his neighbors in late 18th century London. He lives next door to the Kellaways, a family which has come to London from their village in Dorset. Jem Kellaway, the teenage son, becomes friends with a neighborhood girl, Maggie Butterfield. Jem and Maggie explore and experience London, with Jem’s younger sister Maisie often in tow. They become friendly with William Blake and his wife.
Life is not easy for the poor in 18th century London . In addition to learning how to manage their world, the children must contend with exploitative adults, family tragedies and political turmoil in England.
This was another book I purchased to read on a long plane ride. It is well written, and very obviously well researched. It is not, however, of the caliber of GWAPE. It lacks emotional intensity and any kind of suspense. In other words, it’s OK but not great.
Published in hardcover-DuttonAdult-2007