So it’s 2019 so HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my followers old and new. I’ve had a wonderful break over the last couple of weeks but I’m back and raring to go, starting off today with a review of The Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurst to open the blog tour. Huge thanks to Kirsty at Atlantic Books for the invite and my review copy of the book.
About this book…
‘ON THE 15TH DAY OF DECEMBER IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 1664, A GREAT LIGHT BLOOMED IN THE DARK SKY…’
Born on the night of a bad-luck comet, Ursula Flight has a difficult destiny written in the stars. Growing up with her family in the country, she is educated by a forward-thinking father who enables her to discover a love of reading, writing and astrology. Ursula dreams of becoming a famous playwright, but is devastated to learn she must instead fulfil her family’s expectations and marry. Trapped and lost, Ursula plots her escape – but her freedom will come at a price.
As Ursula’s dangerous desires play out, both on and off the stage, she’s flung into a giddy world of actors, aristocrats and artistic endeavours which will change her life irrevocably.
A gutsy coming-of-age story about a spirited young woman struggling to lead a creative life, this uplifting tale vividly evokes the glittering world of Restoration-era theatre. For anyone who has ever tried to succeed against the odds, The Illumination of Ursula Flight is an inspiring journey of love and loss, heartbreak and all-consuming passion. This is a debut pulsating with life for readers of Jessie Burton, Sarah Waters and Sarah Perry.
Oh my days! My first read of 2019 and it has already set the bar very high indeed for the rest of the books I plan to read this year. The Illumination of Ursula Flight is a mesmerising and fearless frolic featuring a feisty female protagonist that it’s pretty impossible not to fall in love with. As with all the memorable heroines who standout in historical literature, the journey of self discovery that Ursula undertakes strips her character back to the bone, revealing every personality flaw but that just made me adore her even more. So move over Becky Sharp and Amber St Clare, Ursula Flight is here to grab your attention from the minute she bursts into the world on the same night that a spectacular comet lights up the sky bringing fear to the population of bad luck to come.
I am a big fan of historical fiction set within this period and so I am very critical if it fails to live up to my expectations! But this book was just perfect in my eyes! The author captured the era with an almost cinematic reality that brought the setting to life with a vivid imagery so that every scene felt authentic and realistically involving. This was a time where women felt undervalued members of society so to see Ursula take her schooling to heart and realise she had a talent that she had to take to the masses meant that I was cheering her on every step of the way. Yes, she made mistakes but that only made her more likeable, I thought, and brought out her determination to succeed.
Ursula is a character I won’t forget in a hurry. Her free spirited and boisterous personality gave the narrative a wonderful humour which cut through the tense drama of the piece whilst still keeping the essence of the historical context. And what helped was the way in which parts of the plot were explored using Restoration plays as this gave the characters a different voice in which to communicate with each other.
In fact it’s hard to believe that this is a debut novel! The uniqueness of its narrative, combined with the quality of the storyline and character development, were woven together with a magically organic perception that means that I won’t forget this book in a hurry. In fact if this book doesn’t make my top 20 books of 2019 then I will eat my copy!! Actually, I’d go as far to say that The Illumination of Ursula Flight is now one of my all time favourite books and one I would happily read again on a regular basis. It’s just so beautifully written and affecting that I can’t recommend it highly enough! I absolutely loved every single page!
Meet the author…
Anna-Marie Crowhurst has worked as a freelance journalist and columnist for more than 15 years, contributing to The Times, The Guardian, Time Out, Newsweek, Emerald Street and Stylist. In 2016 she studied for an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, where her debut novel The Illumination of Ursula Flight was born. She lives in London