Sunday, January 3, 2010
Written by the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, this is the story of a chair-making family who move to London in 1792 to work for the circus. The children in the story, Maisie, Jem, and their new friend Maggie, are adventurous and endearing, and we silently cheer them along, particularly Maggie, who is outspoken but loveable. Interactions with their neighbour, the poet, William Blake, provide them with a philosophical view of life, and encourage their journey from innocence to experience.
I chose this book off the cheap rack at a newsagency because it has a great looking cover (well, it does!), and also because I had read the Girl with the Pearl Earring and thought it was beautifully written. While not quite as spellbounding as that book, this story portrays the late 18th century streets of London vividly, and explores the literary, political and economic situations of the times, including the French Revolution, the printing press and poverty. Amusing, romantic and sometimes heart-wrenching, the lure of the story is to find out if Jem and Maggie's friendship develops into romance.