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The Potter's Hand Paperback – 15 Apr 2013

3.9 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (15 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848879539
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848879539
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 132,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A wonderful, highly readable novel; epic in scale, rich in narrative and character. High class indeed. --Tim Waterstone

Wilson offers a sweeping portrait of the European Enlightenment and the foundation of an intellectual dynasty destined to include Charles Darwin and Ralph Vaughn Williams in its ranks... All of this intellectualism is held together by a strong narrative... Behind the calm equipoise of Wedgwood's neoclassical designs, a global storm of ideas and inventions raged. It has a centre in Stoke-on-Trent and an icon in Wedgwood. Wilson brings it all to life. --Tristram Hunt, Financial Times

The Potter's Hand is a rich and rather wonderful novel... It is one of these books which gives the impression of having matured in the imagination for years. One can't, in a short review, do justice to its abundance. It is a cornucopia of a novel... wide in scope, rich in detail, and deep in understanding. --Scotsman



Full of fascinating historical detail... [A. N. Wilson's] most obvious fictional flourish, which sees a Cherokee transported to the potteries, is as incredible as it is romantic... a rather magnificent achievement. --Daily Mail



This is a splendid story, vividly told. --Economist



A weighty, most satisfying tale --Sunday Times



A. N. Wilson bases his first novel for five years, The Potter's Hand, on the Wedgwood Dynasty, and delivers their extraordinary adventures and achievements in business with customary aplomb. --Bookseller's Choice



Excellent historic fiction based around the family of Josiah Wedgwood in the period between the US revolution and the French revolution. An interesting man in a fascinating period makes for a compelling read. --Bookbag



A generous, beautiful novel --Irish Examiner



A magnificent saga of family life in the Enlightenment. --Evening Standard

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.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although this is "fiction" A N Wilson has knack of giving you the real person and real historical moment behind his invention. Josiah Wedgewood was one of a type; making his world the better and stronger place without over-sentiment, human rights or health and safety. Such types eventually were to become out-dated and marginalised as those who followed and prospered sought to place their own stamp upon the world. Wilson throws a pot with all of these elements in it so that it stands out as masterpiece of design, execution and pleasure. JJ
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