This is my first foray into Tracy Chevalier's writing. I also read it quickly which is not quite right. This is a book to be read a bit more slowly. Set in the late 18th century it deals with a family moving from deepest Dorsetshire to London and finding themselves completely at sea almost like in a foreign country.
The move comes about after their eldest son Tommy is killed in an accident where he falls from a tree. His mother finds their home stifling and full of memories and despite being not the one who wants change is very anxious to move from there. The whole family feels alien in London at the beginning. Jem ridiculed for his accent and his ways, Maisie nervous and out of place and Anne the mother suspicious of everyone and everything. Thomas seems to be the only one who tries to keep it all together for the sake of the family and move on.
The family becomes neighbours and friends of William Blake - publisher and printer. The French Revolution on the other side of the channel at first does not seem to have any influence on these Londoners until they are thrust into it where they are all forced to sign a letter of support for the king. William Blake and his Mrs are not a major part of the book but through a series of incidents, conversations and meetings his words and his influence form a major part of the story.
Another important figure is Maggie - a veteran Londoner street smart and savvy who instantly feels attracted to both Jem and Maisie and takes it upon herself to not just educate them in the ways of London but also protects them as she feels they are too innocent and naive to be left alone. This works well for both Jem and Maisie and in turn Maggie herself is changed into a caring person who is able to see the value of innocence.
A very descriptive book of the life and times of both the country side as well as Londoners and in great detail too of the minuscule details of their daily lives. 386 pages.