Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Up to 70% off Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Shop Amazon Fire TV Shop now Shop Fire HD 6 Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

90
2.9 out of 5 stars
Burning Bright
Format: PaperbackChange
Price:£8.99+Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 18 June 2007
This was a good read, a good tale, but nothing exciting. It told you little bits about William Blake, but I do not feel like a Blake connoisseur having read this! The book tells of a family moving from Dorsetshire to London in 1792, which would probably ring true with anyone making a similar move today. The family live next door to William Blake, and occasionally their paths cross. I loved 'Girl with a Pearl Earring,' it made me seek out Vermeer's work, and look with renewed vigour at Dutch painting. This book simply does not enthuse you with any similar passion.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 17 August 2007
An interesting and detailed picture of London in the late eighteenth century. The people and the industries of the time, along with the feeling of unrest as King George worries that his citizens will revolt like the French.

It took me a little while to get into the story, possibly because I wasn't particularly interested in the circus or the Astleys who owned it. I found it a little poor but it did improve and as the story developed I did grow to like Jem and Maggie, the main characters.

I would disagree with the synopsis that states, "Their friendship takes a dramatic turn when they become entangled in the life of their neighbour...William Blake." They hardly become entangled. He's a printer, a radical and poet who just happens to be a neighbour and features briefly from time to time to give them a little food for thought.

Pleasant, but not gripping.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 October 2011
This novel is set in London during 1792-93. It features two fictional families (the Kellaway family who have recently migrated to London from Dorset, and the Butterfield family who are more traditional Londoners), and two real historical characters: the radical poet and printer William Blake, and the entrepreneurial pioneer of commercial circuses Philip Astley.

I was disappointed by this book. I read it because I had recently read and enjoyed Chevalier's novel Remarkable Creatures, which tells the story of two women, Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, who in the early nineteenth century made important contributions to the then emerging science of evolution; Remarkable Creatures provides a good perspective both about the two women and about the contemporary scientific debate. With this in mind, I had anticipated that Burning Bright would focus on Blake - an historical figure of great interest - and that I would gain new insights about him as a result. I particularly expected that it would focus on his attitude towards the French Revolution and its possible consequences for England, given the novel's 1792-93 setting.

Unfortunately, Blake is a marginal figure in the book, whose focus is on the fictional characters. I didn't feel that I learned anything worthwhile about him at all. As for the French Revolution, this features only in one small part of the book, and again no significant insights or ideas are developed. Thus, this book doesn't replicate the strengths of Remarkable Creatures in illuminating interesting historical figures. This might not matter if its fictional characters were well developed or if it had an ingenious plot or interesting themes. Unfortunately, none of these requirements is met. Overall, I couldn't quite see the point of the book, though I do accept that it has some good features: for example, there are good descriptive passages which give a nice feel for London life at the end of the eighteenth century; and Chevalier seems to have done her research about both Blake and Astley thoroughly. These strengths, though, don't outweigh my disappointment that Chevalier missed an opportunity by not bringing Blake more centrally into the book (perhaps making him one of the narrators, as she does with Anning and Philpot in Remarkable Creatures).

I might well read other Chevalier novels in the hope that they are more like Remarkable Creatures than Burning Bright, but I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who wants to read interesting historical fiction.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 2008
This story is set in 18th century London and supposedly revolves around two children and the erudite figure of William Blake. One is struck with a certain authenticity in the way in which Chevalier writes, and there is very little against her quality of writing. The problem lies in her subject matter.

On the back of the cover it explains how the book is "Sparkling with seduction...drama", yet the drama that does come along is brief and shortlived. The action usually happens to her main children characters, but the way in which she describes these rare scenes of action is such that she almost treats her reader as a child.

And there in lies her main fault. The mark of a good story is registered not by how much is said, but by how much is not said, leaving the rest for the reader to make the connection. Chevalier does not leave enough to the reader to work out, and the mind switches off. She has become so absorbed with her characters and eighteenth century London that she has completely forgotten and disregarded her reader, leaving an empty, boring shell of a story to merely pass the time before her next novel.

Disappointing from an author of such quality.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
I have been a huge fan of Chevalier for a number of years now and absolutely love "Girl with a Pearl Earring" and "Falling Angels". (I'd recommend them in an instant!) When I heard that she was writing a new book (after about four years of no new publications) I couldn't wait to get hold of it, let alone read it.

To summise, the novel revolves arounds the Kellaway family, who move from rural Dorset to late 18th-century London, where they happen to become neighbours with William Blake. The son, Jem Kellaway starts work at a circus and makes friends with Maggie Butterfield. It is very much a tale of their friendship and their relationship with the Blakes.

On the surface, there isn't anything wrong with plot and it's not badly written. However, for me, it was missing something; I think it lacked passion - in her others novels, I have always felt that she enjoyed writing the books and developing the characters/plotlines. In this one, it didn't feel like Chevalier. In addition, one of the reasons why I like Chevalier is that her work doesn't come across as predictable, but in 'Burning Bright' there were one or two subplots (a pregnancy, for example) that were completely unnecessary. When that pregnancy occurred, I was almost screaming 'No!' because I just hoped it wasn't going to be that predictable. If anything, these episodes felt very contrived in order to take the reader from one phase to the next.

I am going to make a large presumption here but it crossed my mind that Chevalier had written the book simply because she hadn't had anything published in a while; almost as if to bring her back on the scene.

Would I recommend it? To be honest, I'd hesitate. If you like Chevalier, then at least read it, but have no expectations. If you have never read Chevalier before, DON'T start with this one.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 2007
If Catherine Cookson had written a book with William Blake in it, I think it would have been more heavyweight than this.

There's nothing terrible about the book per se, except that it is a hugely wasted opportunity. A story about murder, guilt, young love, prostitution, teenage pregnancy and sexual disease in late 18th century London should be far darker than the story Tracy Chevalier has crafted. In fact, these dark themes pervade the whole of Blake's work, but not this novel.

Having William Blake and his wife as incidental characters in the novel is a nice touch, but that's all it is. There's never any real sense of connection between the teenagers and Blake, other than he is a kindly, slightly dotty but well-meaning and wise "old" man (in fact, he would only have been in his mid-thirties when the book is set). Blake is rather one-dimensional and is always on hand at just the right time.

Chevalier has immense sympathy for the young women she protrays, and Maggie and Maisie are believable characters. Less so with the men. In fact, the male characters just drop out of the book without much word. The story about Astley and the circus goes nowhere, other than as a plot vehicle for the Kellaway family. The Butterfield men seem only to be there as cues for Maggie's behaviour.

The book is called Burning Bright and there is a lightness throughout the whole book. Blake, however, meant the light shining in the darkness. Unfortunately, though set the murderous and diseased capital London, which at the time was rent with politcal repression following the French Revolution, the book fails to provide the menace.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2008
This novel should be renamed Tracy Chevalier: What I've Learned About Eighteenth Century London and the Dorset Piddles.
In each of her previous novels, Chevalier evokes the relevant period so effortlessly that you feel as if you're there too. In contrast, Burning Bright is stuffed some way past bursting point with what I felt was heavy-handed and self-conscious period detail. In particular, the scene where Maggie and Jem follow the Blakes across London appears to have been written so that she can show off how much she's found out in her research.
This isn't a terrible book, by any means, but falls well below Chevalier's own high standards - it's not particularly well written, the plot is slight and the characters feel cliched. I can only think that the subject didn't really inspire her.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I suspect that if you have never read any of Tracy Chevalier's work, you'll like this book better than if you are a fan. Burning Bright intensely develops London with a sense of place that you won't find exceeded in too many novels based in the 1790s. But with London being such a big part of the book, you may find the plot and the characters pale by comparison. That's why I rated the book at three stars.

If you loved Girl with a Pearl Earring and carry with you the joy that you gained from learning about Vermeer and painting, I suspect you'll think that Burning Bright is more like a two-star book. Other than his sympathies for the French Revolution, you won't know much more about Blake when the book ends than when it began (except for a few glimpses of his personal quirks).

Those who will love this book best will be those who want to know about Philip Astley and Astley's Circus. Astley was the founder of the modern circus and cut quite a colorful figure in English society at the time. Ms. Chevalier's fictional characters are intimately tied to Astley, his son, and the circus.

You'll spend most of your time following the Kellaway family (father, Thomas, a maker of fine chairs; mother, Anne, a button maker and homemaker; daughter, Maisie, apprentice button maker; and Jem, son, apprenticed to his father) as they leave rural Dorset to follow up on Astley's promise of sponsorship for their chair making if they come to London. Astley, with prodding, makes good and the Kellaways are soon tenants in an Astley building. We see London through their fresh eyes.

To draw the contrast between rural people and Londoners, Ms. Chevalier develops another fictional family, the Butterfields, whose father, Dick, runs scams, whose son, Charlie, is an unenthusiastic scamster in training, whose mother, Bet, is a washerwoman, and whose daughter, Maggie, works in factory jobs and as a washerwoman, too. The families are mainly connected through Jem and Maggie who become friends.

William Blake and his wife are neighbors of the Kellaways. The two mostly make cameo appearances except for a few occasions where Blake discusses philosophy with Jem and Maggie. As the book ends, Blake has become attached to the two and provides a valuable gift for each.

William Blake is the poet I most often quote in my books. He has a timeless ability to capture the essence of modern ironies . . . especially the way that our perspective captures our ability to perceive and enjoy. Knowing his poetic works quite well, I looked forward to gaining a deeper appreciation. Just the opposite happened; there was so little Blake, the poet, in the book that I felt him disappearing from my perception.

This tyger needed to burn a lot brighter than it did.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2012
A gritty, exciting, sometimes sad and often heartwarming take about three teenage children in late 18th century London. Jem Kellaway and his sister Maisie are new to London, having come with their parents from the Piddle Valley in Dorset shire, and are befriended by street wise, spunky and warmhearted London girl, Maggie Butterworth.
This is at the time of the French Revolution, and there is alarm, suspicion and tension in England as a result. Maggie and Jem become fast reins and become acquainted with there neighbor poet and social reformer William Blake, and his wife. While the Kellaways must live under their Mena spirited and cruel landlady Miss Pelham

The John Anstey circus is established near bye and soon Anstey's cold blooded Casanova sun ruins lives as Maggie must struggle with her unloving parents and her evil older brother Charlie. The neighborhood will soon be terrorized by the
The Association for Preserving Liberty and Property against Republicans and Levellers. Our young friends Jem, Maggie and Maisie will be faced with a myriad and threats and problems. They will be guided helped by the kindly Blakes who are under threat from the Association. A tale of the tribulations and suffering faced by the English working class which exists to this day. A engaging adventure, sometimes sad and frequently heartwarming.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 23 March 2008
No stars. It almost seems as if this book was written by someone other than Chevalier. The language was awkward, clumsy, and flat, as were the characterisations. The only attractive aspect of the novel was the photograph of the circus horse on the front cover. I've rarely run across such a poor effort by a good writer. The writing was so terrible overall that I couldn't finish the book. Yet her other works are very good indeed. If you're disappointed by this, do turn to Falling Angels or The Virgin Blue, where you will find evocative settings, lovely use of language, well-developed characters, and intricate plottting.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
The Last Runaway
The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier (Paperback - 29 Aug. 2013)
£6.39

Falling Angels
Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier (Paperback - 14 Aug. 2014)
£8.99

Remarkable Creatures
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (Paperback - 11 Sept. 2014)
£7.19
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.