Saturday 30 January 2010

Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier's Burning Bright is the story of a family who moves from rural Dorset to London, where the father works for a circus.  They end up living next door to the poet and artist, William Blake.
If you know any of William Blake's poetry, it's likely to be "The Tiger":
Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
Because of the title of the novel, you would be excused for thinking you were going to learn something about Blake, but in reality he is one of the minor characters.  The remaining characters lack much depth and are rather stereotypical, and the accents they are given are frankly irritating.  Country bumpkin versus Cockney. 

On the other hand, the book does portray London vividly and historically accurately. There is a real sense of place which may be just the thing to accompany a trip to the city.