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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore

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The late 1700s in Bristol, England was a time of great change. Events in France were disturbing and would affect England as well. Lizzie Fawkes is a spirited, young woman who is married to John Diner Tredevant. She has to tone down her style of living and her behaviour as he is conventional and does not like anything out of the ordinary.

Lizzie's mother has been unconventional, a writer of ideas and an idealist. These trends are not popular with Lizzie's husband and Lizzie finds herself trying to tread a middle path keeping the peace at home, and finding solace and love with her mother as well.

There are parallel conflicts throughout the story. Tredevant himself is hiding secrets of a horrendous kind and it is bound to come out at some time. He is also greatly in debt having over extended himself. It adds to the tension in his household. He is at odds with Lizzie's behaviour and this creates another side story as it were. Lizzie's mother's life was itself complicated and her having conceived and had a child in her forties added to the tension in the story. The survival of the baby and nurturing him created another tense situation for Lizzie.

I found the different strands of the story a bit too much to assimilate though the setting of the story and the events in France were very well itemized.  The characters of Lizzie and her mother were developed but the story did not take off very well from that point.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Grove Atlantic. 

3 comments:

Cleopatra Loves Books said...

This is on my wishlist - I've actually held it in my hands once but put it back mindful of the number of books I have to read but I will read it at some point! Thanks for a great review.

Audra said...

Thanks for your review -- I've been back and forth about this book and I think I might bump it lower on the TBR. You're not the first person to say the book has a little too much going on, and not in a good way!

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Mystica, I liked the cover and headline, though, I think, I'll skip the book for now.