The Book of Fires
By Jane Borodale
(Pamela Dorman Books, Hardcover, 9780670021062, 368pp.)
Publication Date: January 21, 2010
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Reminiscent of Year of Wonders, a captivating debut novel of fireworks, fortune, and a young woman's redemption
It is 1752 and seventeen-year-old Agnes Trussel arrives in London pregnant with an unwanted child. Lost and frightened, she finds herself at the home of Mr. J. Blacklock, a brooding fireworks maker who hires Agnes as an apprentice. As she learns to make rockets, portfires, and fiery rain, she slowly gains his trust and joins his quest to make the most spectacular fireworks the world has ever seen.
Jane Borodale offers a masterful portrayal of a relationship as mysterious and tempestuous as any the Brontës conceived. Her portrait of 1750s London is unforgettable, from the grimy streets to the inner workings of a household where little is as it seems. Through it all, the clock is ticking, for Agnes's secret will not stay secret forever.
Deeply atmospheric and intimately told from Agnes's perspective, The Book of Fires will appeal to readers of Geraldine Brooks, Sarah Waters, Sheri Holman, and Michel Faber.
"A quietly beautiful novel...elegant use of language...inventive storytelling."
"...stunning debut novel...exceptionally well-crafted, beautifully written."
-The Historical Novels Review
"Jane Borodale writes historical fiction with a twist in the tale, without sentimentality. Agnes Trussel is a heroine armed only with doggedness, ingenuity, and desperation, who marches toward her future with an intrepid spirit. An engrossing story."
-Karleen Koen, bestselling author of Through a Glass Darkly and Now Face to Face
A "promising debut."
"Borodale deftly conjures up mid-18th century London in her spectacular debut...Readers who loved Jane Eyre will appreciate the atmosphere of tension and foreboding that permeates the narrative."
"Jane Borodale's captivating debut novel carried me back to a world where even strong young women had few options. Her astonishing descriptions of 18th-century England, the creation of fireworks, and the brave and determined Agnes held me happily captive there for days, and, even now, have not released their hold on me. Agnes Trussel is sure to become one of 21st-century literature's most enduring characters."
-Brunonia Barry, New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader
"Jane Borodale's first novel contains a wondrous and utterly believable world built by the subtle accretion of precise detail. Young Agnes Trussel is a clever and innocent heroine. I found myself cheering when, by the end, she-and the very novel that contains her story-burst into new and luminous life."
-Lauren Groff, New York Times bestselling author of The Monsters of Templeton
"Jane Borodale has a way with words that had me smelling the foul streets of 18th-century London and tasting the strange powders that went into making John Blacklock's fireworks. The story of the apprentice Agnes learning from the master Blacklock is reminiscent of The Girl with the Pearl Earring."
-Anne Easter Smith, author of A Rose for the Crown and The King's Grace
"Whether in evoking rural Sussex at a time of change or the precariousness of life in the metropolis, Jane Borodale displays a deft touch in this very pleasing story."
More than 150 writers from 40 events will gather in New York City for PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, April 28 – May 4, 2014.
For its 10th anniversary, the festival celebrates those who have dared to stand ‘on the edge,’ risking their careers, and sometimes their lives, to speak out for their art and beliefs. Join us for a wide range of events, including debates, one-on-one conversations, participatory workshops and performances in venues throughout the city. Use the code PEN14 (use PEN2014 for events at The Public Theater) and receive a 20 percent discount on most events. www.worldvoicesfestival.org