Wow, I've been held in a trance! I have read this book in less than two days and I have loved every minute of not being able to sleep or do anything much else, but enjoy this. It helped that I ordered it from Bicester library and got a beautiful hardback copy. I always knew I wanted to read a massive hardback version of this book as I just love the cover.
Weirdly , I have not been able to enjoy reading for almost a year now and I'm so glad that the spell was well and truely broken this weekend.
This book was my perfect mix: science, religion, witchcraft, the idea of freedom, poverty, love, friendship, magical realism and the amazing natural world all mixed up into a story set in Essex and London in 1893. I can't really describe it apart from I thought it was really beautiful and rather strange. Unsettling and totally brilliant.
I really felt that Sarah Perry was writing in that era. There were no anachronistic moments but even so there were so many relevant topics to today. ( How to treat your children when they are different to other children, how to care for veterans from the war in Afghanistan, dealing with unscrupulous landlords and the definitions of the undeserving poor.) In fact in some ways this book was a bit too heavy on the 'worthy ideas front' but I still loved it and the characters were brilliant. I can still see the village of Aldchester in Essex and the Blackwater river as it hit the North Sea. The natural world in this book is another character and I just loved the passages about light, water, clouds, moss, fossils and trees! The love story is heart-wrenchingly romantic and the sections on religion and science were just beautiful. The weirdness didn't bother me either. I kinda liked the illness/ madness which took over one of the characters. Her blue tinged world was straight out of a gothic romance. I'm glad I read it quickly. This book was like a drug to me and I enjoyed every minute. I don't know if I would have enjoyed it so much if I had read it slowly. Parts of the plot might have irritated me but like this it was one big joy and I recommend this book highly! Warning...it is addictive and wonderfully strange. Think I might read bits of it again!