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The Potter's Hand [Hardcover]

A. N. Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
RRP: £17.99
Price: £12.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Sep 2012
In 1774, Josiah Wedgwood, master craftsman possessed with a burning scientific vision, embarks upon the thousand piece Frog Service for Catherine the Great. Josiah's nephew Tom journeys to America to buy clay from the Cherokee for this exquisite china. Tom is caught up in the American rebellion, and falls for a Cherokee woman who will come to play a crucial role in Josiah's late, great creation: the Portland Vase. As the family fortune is made, and Josiah's entrepreneurial brilliance creates an empire that will endure for generations, it is his daughter Sukey, future mother of Charles Darwin, who bears clear-eyed witness. A novel of epic scope, rich in warmth, intellect and humanity, The Potter's Hand explores the lives and loves of one of Britain's greatest families, whose travails are both ordinary - births, deaths, marriages, opium addiction, depression - and utterly extraordinary.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848879512
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848879515
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.4 x 5.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 321,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A.N. Wilson was born in 1950 and educated at Rugby and New College, Oxford. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he holds a prominent position in the world of literature and journalism. He is an award-winning biographer and a celebrated novelist, winning prizes for much of his work. He lives in North London.

Product Description

Review

A. N. Wilson was born in 1950 and educated at Rugby and New College, Oxford. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he holds a prominent position in the world of literature and journalism. He is a prolific and awarding-winning biographer and celebrated novelist. His most recent novel, Winnie and Wolf, was longlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize. He lives in North London.

About the Author

A. N. Wilson was born in 1950 and educated at Rugby and New College, Oxford. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he holds a prominent position in the world of literature and journalism. He is a prolific and awarding-winning biographer and celebrated novelist. His most recent novel, Winnie and Wolf, was longlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize. He lives in North London. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
By Ripple TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
The man of clay that AN Wilson throws onto his storytelling wheel in "The Potter's Hand" is the great Josiah Wedgwood, but this is much more than a historic telling of his life. Indeed, Josiah already has a thriving business at the start of the book. What Wilson does particularly impressively is to put Wedgwood's achievement and works into the context of the politics and social philosophy of the times, sandwiched between the two great revolutions in American and France. In order to do this, Wilson has to play slightly loose with artistic licence by altering dates and time lines a bit, but it works well. He also balances the real historic figures with several key figures of his own invention and where the historic figures don't quite fit with his narrative, he alters their ages and invents "facts" to the benefit of the fictional narrative.

Wilson's approach is a broad one, following a number of sub-plots throughout the book. Indeed, poor old Josiah often seems to float around on the edge of his own story for much of the book as Wilson concentrates on his nephew, Tom Byerley, who would run the family business after the period of this novel, and the entirely fictional characters of Caleb and Heffie Bowers and Blue Squirrel, a Cherokee girl that Tom meets while seeking to negotiate the supply of American kaolin to meet the order for the Catherine the Great. Also central to the book is Wedgwood's oldest daughter, Sukey, whose later children included Charles Darwin.

The result is a novel of ideas ranging from colonialism, slavery, the welfare of workers, class, religious belief, industrialisation and, with Charles Darwin's grandfather, the lecherous old Dr Darwin as the family doctor, early thoughts on evolution.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Capitalist 8 Nov 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I didn't realise immediately that the author of this book had such important connections with Josiah Wedgwood. A.N.Wilson's father was Managing Director of Josiah Wedgwood Ltd. Wilson knows the distinctive Potteries accent and this gives such credibility to the minor characters: Caleb and Effie. But also to Old Wooden leg himself who at intimate moments speaks the dialect. A.N.Wilson has a reputation for thorough research which means I trust him in this story. Josh's relationship, as a very superior tradesman, with the aristocrats in London and in Staffordshire is one of the most valued aspects of this wonderful story. The book is quite densely printed so thanks Amazon Kindle for enlarged printing enabling me to get through it quickly and easily
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hoped for better 22 Sep 2013
By Gadfly
Format:Paperback
Living in north Staffordshire I was looking forward to this book, but I found it oddly disappointing. Several things jarred with me
The overuse of local dialect was an irritant, some folk out there will have difficulty in understanding it fully.
I know it was written in modern times, but the use of the "F" word and the rather poorly described sex scenes were wholly unnecessary.
The interludes where the action jumped forwards 20 years made it all the more confusing.
On the positive side it gave a good account of the man Josiah Wedgwood and the spirit of the age.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Industrial Revalution on a human scale 27 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A.N.Wilson's historical novel about the family of Josiah Wedgwood, intrigues with its rich analysis of material success and emotional failure. You can trust A.N.Wilson with facts which otherwise might fade into fiction. It is an adventure and a revelation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Potter's Hand 17 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a practising potter I really enjoyed this book and felt that the author had a good grasp of what life was like in the potteries. Possibly someone with little knowledge of the potteries and what Wedgwood achieved at the time might not find it so fulfilling. Some liberties were taken by the author but these did not distract from the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Novel 17 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic read, it is fun but has enough depth to make it really interesting. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wedgewood wonder. 7 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A glimpse of the real work during the industrial revolution along with a story line that sets blends well with the history of this incredible man and his family.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This novel is based on the later years of Josiah Wedgwood’s life. His leg was amputated so he was known by most of his workers as ‘Old Wooden Leg’, but his disability had little impact on his energy, drive or imagination. A brilliant potter himself, he established a company that became a by-word for quality and innovation. This novel is a mixture of family saga, history and adventure yarn and Wilson knows his source, his father being the managing director of the Wedgewood Pottery.

This is a splendid story, huge in its scope, which improves the understanding of the age while giving insight into the principal characters. This was the Age of Reason, and also the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. Both are well-presented and explained in this fine book. Some readers may find the absence of speech marks, or the strong Staffordshire accent, distracting, but these are minor quibbles in a major work. More important is the fine writing. For example, at the death of one of Josiah’s many children, Sukey takes up her Oboe:
‘The reedy oboe’s voice, a sad deep-throated bird, filled the silent house ..... Words could not have lifted them. The oboe skipped, sang, led onwards all who heard it with sounds which did not give hope, but which defied despair.’ Great stuff.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb
Although this is "fiction" A N Wilson has knack of giving you the real person and real historical moment behind his invention. Read more
Published 2 days ago by james john
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Excellent - a great read
Published 1 month ago by ANNABEL BENSON
3.0 out of 5 stars Missed the mark
I was looking forward to reading this book but found it disappointing. The invented sub plot involving a Cherokee woman who ends up throwing the Portland vase is unconvincing and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. AMEY
2.0 out of 5 stars Think this was free
I haven't finished this one. I did not like it, I did not take to some of the characters. try it for yourself.
Published 5 months ago by A. C. Green
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellant read
A well written book with interesting characters and a well portrayed settings both local to the family action and the wider national and international field. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Sylvia
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it
Very interesting book, giving characters to the names behind Wedgwood pottery. Some disturbing scenes in America but week worth buying.
Published 6 months ago by Fin
4.0 out of 5 stars A new view of the Industrialrevolution.
It was very well written and brought both the characters and the period to life. Meaning well, many 18 century industrialists created more havoc then progress and the pottery... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Sylvia Flowers
3.0 out of 5 stars not very good
not as good a read as expected. not well written and waste of time . the subject could have been dealt with much better
Published 6 months ago by J. Hope-Hawkins
4.0 out of 5 stars Revolutions in America and Industry
The story of Josiah Wedgwood and his family told among the developments in Industry, Science and the Colonies of the 18th century. Read more
Published 6 months ago by AL
4.0 out of 5 stars I almost thought it was true
This fictionalised account of Josiah Wedgwood and his family was so well done that I almost thought it was a biography. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Corven
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