GIRL With a Pearl Earring author Tracy Chevalier has returned with this story of a country family up in London and living beside William Blake, poet, revolutionary and artist.
It’s a great idea for a book in the Chevalier style – the Washington writer triumphed with Pearl Earring, a romance based on the life of Vermeer, later made into a broodingly sexy film, but has also written a steamer on a medieval tapestry artist who gets stitched up by his love for a lovely model.
But she’s lost her magic touch with Burning Bright, written rather like a children’s book, with a story that weaves around without really getting anywhere.
It’s a pity, because readers who rush to buy this may then miss out on Chevalier’s return to form.
The story centres on the Kellaway family, who come from the village of Piddletrenthide to a London full of the news of the French Revolution. The Kellaways aim to work for the historic Astley circus, and there’s lots of 18th-century colour, Lord-a-mercy-ing and lubricious verse as they wend their way around the city.
Chevalier is now working on a story about a 19th-century fossicker, in which she hopes “to make fossils sexy”, according to her website. Hmmm.