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Bodies of Light [Kindle Edition]

Sarah Moss
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Bodies of Light is a deeply poignant tale of a psychologically tumultuous nineteenth century upbringing set in the atmospheric world of Pre-Raphaelitism and the early suffrage movement. Ally (older sister of May in Night Waking), is intelligent, studious and engaged in an eternal - and losing - battle to gain her mother's approval and affection. Her mother, Elizabeth, is a religious zealot, keener on feeding the poor and saving prostitutes than on embracing the challenges of motherhood. Even when Ally wins a scholarship and is accepted as one of the first female students to read medicine in London, it still doesn't seem good enough.The first in a two-book sequence, Bodies of Light will propel Sarah Moss into the upper echelons of British novelists. It is a triumphant piece of historical fiction and a profoundly moving master class in characterisation.

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Review

'A powerful polemic... The writing is concise and powerful; colour coming from Moss's language. The story ends with you wanting more' --Independent on Sunday

'Thought-provoking and illuminating... this meticulously researched novel offers an intriguing portrait of Victorian society' --Daily Mail

'This is an exciting moment in Sarah Moss's career. Her third novel confirms the richness of her concerns and it sharpens our sense of her steely, no-nonsense voice. Historical detail is vividly and feelingly done. Moss produces well-crafted, deeply researched, hard-working novels about hard-working women' --Guardian

'A poignant, well-written tale of a woman's attempts to escape the powerful chains of family' --Sunday Times

'Wise and tender… Moss's style is measured and refined. A very accomplished piece of work' --Financial Times

'What begins as a novel pinned on feminist history is actually a tale that holds up a mirror to the female psyche. Moss pays attention to her history, but it is this human message - that principles along are not enough - which resonates with the reader' --The Times

'The award-winning author of Night Waking is back with an historical novel' --Diva

'What begins as a novel pinned on feminist history is actually a tale that holds up a mirror to the female psyche. Moss pays attention to her history, but it is this human message - that principles along are not enough - which resonates with the reader' --The Times

'The award-winning author of Night Waking is back with an historical novel' --Diva

'A wonderful book... Bodies of Light is not just well-researched and beautifully written, it succeeds in capturing the real nuances of being a woman doctor, now as then. This is no small achievement.' --Gabriel Weston, The Lancet

'The award-winning author of Night Waking is back with an historical novel' --Diva

About the Author

SARAH MOSS was educated at Oxford University and is currently an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Warwick. She is the author of two novels: Cold Earth (Granta 2010), and Night Waking (Granta 2012), which was selected for the Fiction Uncovered Award in 2011; and the co-author of Chocolate: A Global History. She spent 2009-10 as a visiting lecturer at the University of Reykjavik, and wrote an account of her time there in Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland (Granta 2012), which was shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2013.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 531 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (3 April 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00GPDN5BC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,543 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bodies of Light 6 April 2014
By Susie B TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Beginning in Manchester in the mid 1850s, Sarah Moss's third novel focuses on the Moberley family and, in particular, on Alethea Moberley, the elder daughter of Alfred and Elizabeth. Alfred Moberley is an artist, interested in elegant compositions, who paints in the Pre-Raphaelite style and who has a clear eye for beauty; however, his wife Elizabeth, like her mother before her, spends her days visiting the slums, helping the poor and campaigning against child prostitution - all very worthy activities, but ones which she carries out with an evangelical zeal, to the detriment of her two children: Alethea (Ally) and May. Towards her daughters, Elizabeth is extremely strict; she gives them practically no physical affection, she refuses them warmth, and only allows them to wear plain clothes and eat plain, wholesome food, continually reminding them that they are so much better off than the poor wretches who live in the slums. May, the younger daughter, does not allow her mother's zeal to affect her too badly, and she manages to escape the many chores her mother expects her daughters to perform, spending some of her time posing as a model for an artist friend of her father's; but Ally, desperate for her mother's love and attention, strives to live up to her mother's expectations, to the serious detriment of her physical and mental well-being. When her mother decides that Ally, an intelligent and hard-working student, should aim to train as a doctor, Ally devotes herself to her studies, working through the night to achieve good grades - but can Ally, who is overworked, under-appreciated and suffering from bouts of hysteria, ever hope to meet the exacting expectations of her mother? And should she try so hard to do so? Read more ›
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm at a loss to know where to start to adequately praise this excellent, layered novel from Sarah Moss, who has the stunning ability to write novels `about deep and complex stuff' , engage with both the heart and the head, create real, properly dimensional, complex characters, write beautifully and unindulgently, and do all this within the discipline of a pacey narrative drive

Moss's territory is the complex lives of girls and women, caught between their own personal identity, their calling, vocation and creativity, and the counter-pull, whether of a society which limits and curtails women, or the counter-pull imposed by the biology of mothering and the fierce demands of children

I read, some time ago, Moss's last book, Night Waking, which I found brilliant, distressing, disturbing, but for me, there were some irritations, which pulled me back from 5 stars. Night Waking concerned a professional couple, with 2 small children, engaged in their work on a Scottish island. There was the tension of the children, affecting, differently, the mother and the father, with the mother least able to `follow her own star'. That book also twinned a long ago thread from the nineteenth century. And in fact, that thread skeins back to Bodies Of Light, her latest book. Though there is no need to have read the previous one. Except, you might later want to. Or indeed, as I shall do, revisit the earlier one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A slow and subtle burn 10 Feb. 2015
By S. B. Kelly VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a very subdued novel and I initially found it lacking in passion, but it grew on me as I went along and I became ever more eager to pick it up again. It's the story of Ally, an unloved child, tormented by a prickly mother whose love and approval she is unable to win. Growing up in the mid 19th century in a family with advanced ideas, Ally is destined to become one of the first women doctors and to carve a life for herself that doesn't depend on the approval of her parents.

It's beautifully written in rather long chapters, spanning a period of some 25 years, each beginning with a description of a painting by Ally's artist father or one of his friends, one in which she or another family member acted a model.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss is a historical novel set in 19th century Manchester. As we follow the growing-up years of the main character, Alethea "Ally" Moberly, until she earns her medical degree, we learn about the social and legal plights of women during the early suffrage movement in Britain. We also become acutely aware of the truly terrifying male attitudes towards women, particularly those held by the all-male medical establishment who were spectacularly ignorant of the female body.

The novel begins when artist Alfred Moberly weds Elizabeth. Throughout the book, Alfred works as an increasingly successful designer of elegant rooms and ornate fabrics for wealthy matrons. In stark contrast, his wife Elizabeth, austere and frugal, is a religious zealot and social activist devoted to feeding the destitute, to saving prostitutes, and to achieving equality for women. Motherhood was the last thing on her mind.

This strongly character-driven story focuses on the first-born Moberly daughter, Alethea and, to a lesser degree, her younger sister, May. Alethea -- meaning "truth" -- is intense, driven and very intelligent -- so much so that she wins a scholarship that allows her to become one of the first female students to read medicine in London. Yet despite her academic and intellectual strengths, Ally is emotionally fragile, exhibiting a life-long pattern of self-harm and experiencing frequent, debilitating anxiety attacks -- thanks to her mother's physical cruelties and endless harsh criticisms. In contrast, younger sister May is more resilient, appearing to survive Elizabeth's severe child-rearing practices unscathed.

Ally's true passion was learning, so it was Elizabeth, not Ally, who decides that she should become a medical doctor.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars a book for women
A story of women,s struggle to achieve in impossible times and to have it all , a profession and love
Published 19 days ago by Jean
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth working at
Took me a while to get into it but in fact a long-term satisfying read
Published 2 months ago by WINWIG
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - so beautifully written to inform and engage the ...
Excellent - so beautifully written to inform and engage the reader. Also moving and thought provoking. I enjoyed this book very much.
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. Melanie Dove
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must read!
One of the best books I have ever read! Words fail me… …all I can say is: I strongly recommend! (Other favourite authors are: Rebecca West, Joanne Harris, Kate Grenville and Alden... Read more
Published 3 months ago by jac7
4.0 out of 5 stars enlightening
i loved this book. The division of the book into chapters, each centring on the description of a painting was an interesting device. Read more
Published 4 months ago by deirdre.mc
5.0 out of 5 stars original and highly enjoyable
beautifully written, memorable story, leaves you wondering what happens next . Original. Not formulaic - give it a go, you will enjoy.
Published 4 months ago by Ginga - ninja
4.0 out of 5 stars Both psychological and sociological, it kept my interest till the end.
I thoroughly enjoyed this historical fiction based on a main female character as she grows up and into a woman at a time when the suffrage movement was in its infancy. Read more
Published 6 months ago by E. Teal
4.0 out of 5 stars Control Freakery
Liked this book a lot although I would have liked to give Lizzie a right old talking to for her ridiculous ideas. She and Dickens Mrs Jellyby were two of a kind. Read more
Published 6 months ago by marionq
5.0 out of 5 stars well observed psychological novel
Very well written, disturbing and well observed psychological novel,excellent.
Published 7 months ago by Georgia Sands
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this book and will read again one day
Really enjoyed this book and will read again one day. Great on atmosphere, the unspoken figuring strongly, so the reader must fathom what is hidden between the lines.
Published 8 months ago by wolfgranny
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