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Burning Bright

3.34  ·  Rating Details ·  10,595 Ratings  ·  1,195 Reviews
The author of Girl with a Pearl Earring returns with another engrossing, realistic historical novel, this one set in the final decade of the 18th century. Burning Bright follows Thomas Kellaway and his family as they migrate from rural Dorset to London, where Thomas has found work as a circus carpenter and builder. The novel foregrounds the experiences of Kellaway's son Je ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 20th 2007 by Dutton (first published March 5th 2007)
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Shan O
Mar 18, 2008 Shan O rated it liked it
I have long enjoyed Tracy Chevalier's historical novels, particularly "Girl With a Pearl Earring," which imagines the daily home life and creative process of 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, as viewed from the vantage point of a teenage, Protestant maid. This more recent book,"Burning Bright," is set in 18th century Lambeth, a suburb of London, and imagines the public life and creative mind of painter and poet William Blake, seen through the eyes of two adolescents. While both books ...more
Mar 16, 2008 Sammy rated it liked it
Shelves: c-the-okay
UGH! I'm thinking I may have rated this book to high, but then again it wasn't that bad. This rating/grade is pretty much reflective of it's mediocrity. It wasn't good, it wasn't bad. Beautiful language, fun descriptions, interesting situations. No plot, random and half-developed characters. Those were the main pros and cons for this book that are popping up right now.

This book wasn't long but for some reason it felt like it took forever to get through and I think that was the main reason I didn
Feb 08, 2009 Malcolm rated it liked it
London at the time of the French revolution takes center stage in this beautifully written novel featuring location and themes over plot. When craftsman Thomas Kellaway moves his wife Anne and teen-aged children Jem and Masie from the Piddle Valley in Dorset to London in March of 1792, they are all but overwhelmed by the contrasting grandeur and ugliness of the big city. Thomas hopes he can better support the family making chairs for the circus and Anne hopes distance will heal her tortured mind ...more
Mar 11, 2011 Chip rated it really liked it
It can't be easy to be Tracy Chevalier - everyone expects a home run when her next book comes up, and ten billion critics all judge whether or not her effort succeeded. Few of her critics are willing to research the setting, the subject, or the historical context before espousing their opinions. Not so for Ms. Chevalier: the time and care she took in her research shows throughout this book and is invisible to most of the readers. (What I really want to say is 'what a bunch of whiners!' Here is a ...more
Jun 07, 2008 Jane rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lucy
This is the third Chavalier book I have read the other two being The Virgin Blue and Girl with a Pearl Earring. As with the other two I found this an enjoyable and easy read. As well as having a story line Chavalier does a heck of a lot of research on the period and actual historic facts. Burning Bright is set in London in the late 1700's and follows a family's move there from the county of Dorset, from country to city is a dramatic change for all the family members and Chavalier manages to capt ...more
Allie Riley
Sep 14, 2013 Allie Riley rated it liked it
Disappointing. I felt that she should have picked either Philip Astley or William Blake as her focus - attempting them both diluted the impact somewhat. She could, for example, have really dealt with the Dissenters issue in more depth had she just written about William Blake. I think there would have been more dramatic tension that way and a far more entertaining novel. As it was, despite the flowing prose, I found this an effort to read. Nowhere near as good as "Girl with a Pearl Earring", in m ...more
Chiara Pagliochini
«La tensione fra due forze contrarie fa di noi ciò che siamo. Noi le abbiamo entrambe, mescolate nel cuore, dove si danno battaglia e mandano scintille. Non siamo solo luce, ma anche tenebra, non abbiamo solo la pace ma anche la guerra. Siamo innocenti eppure smaliziati […] E c’è una lezione che faremmo bene a imparare: il mondo si rispecchia intero in ogni fiore».

Quando un romanzo della Chevalier finisce, qualcuno nel mondo si ritrova con la testa ciondoloni da un lato, una guancia appoggiata
Joyce McCombs
Jan 05, 2009 Joyce McCombs rated it it was amazing
As with Chevalier's "Girl with Pearl Earring".. .this book is a YOU ARE THERE experience. I couldn't put it down and devoured it in a few hours one recent afternoon. Set in 18th century London, with William Blake as a main character, the story revolves around the children who live next door to him and how they experience growing up in a turbulent political time, as well as understanding their roles in society and as young adolescents. Chevalier makes it seem perfectly possible that William Blake ...more
May 29, 2008 Anna rated it it was ok
Burning Bright is a story about the middle ground between opposites: city/country, boy/girl, experienced/innocent. Unlike Chevalier other works this novel did not as clearly develop the primary historical character (William Blake) or the link between the action of the story the creation of his work (Songs of Experience, Songs of Innocence). The story was unfocused. There were too many characters and too many subplots. Chevalier's other works are far superior.
Jun 04, 2016 Gary rated it it was amazing
A gritty, exciting, sometimes sad and often heartwarming take about three teenage children in late 18th century London. Jem Kellaway and his sister Maisie are new to London, having come with their parents from the Piddle Valley in Dorset shire, and are befriended by street wise, spunky and warmhearted London girl, Maggie Butterworth.
This is at the time of the French Revolution, and there is alarm, suspicion and tension in England as a result. Maggie and Jem become fast reins and become acquainte
Sep 12, 2013 Gerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tracy Chevalier presents us with a real and vivid kaleidoscope of London in the late 18th century, complete with a visit to William Blake's work rooms. And it all makes for an interesting tale.

Jem Kellaway and his family move from Dorsetshire to London at the invitation of Philip Aspley of the circus fame as his father Thomas was a carpenter and Aspley wants to employ him.

The family then find themselves living next door to Blake and Jem, his sister and friend Maggie become friendly with the auth
Ian Mapp
Nov 28, 2008 Ian Mapp rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 13, 2011 Kira rated it did not like it
The utter lack of resolution, both in terms of character growth and in terms of historical detail, was extremely disappointing. I can't say I expected anything better from the snailian pace; nor was I ready to forgive the author's annoying tendency to build one character to an emotional pitch of trauma, then leave off before that character can react and talk about another one who is even then idling languidly. Like many of you, I was unimpressed with the way William Blake remained only a minor c ...more
Sep 01, 2009 Erin rated it liked it
I picked this up on the clearance table at one of my favorite places in the world- Barnes and Noble. It's so remarkable there. Quiet, cool, anonymous. Classical music playing softly overhead. You aren't expected to talk to anyone, just head to the books. You could actually hide there and no one could find you for hours, well minutes, but still... Heaven.
Jul 11, 2010 Leigh-ann rated it liked it
I'm not sure what to say about this book... I can hardly begin to think about how to summarize it. If I was in a classroom I could say that it's about "opposites" and the teacher would applaud me and we'd all be assigned an essay on the topic of, "The Role of Opposites in 'Burning Bright'".

I like historical fiction, but this is the second book I've read by Chevalier and I haven't been too thrilled by either of them. A book called "Burning Bright" should have some spark to it, yet both the plot
Dec 31, 2013 Debbie rated it liked it

I know I've use this word a lot in reference to this book. That's because positively and negatively it's about the best word I can give to this book. It wasn't bad. It wasn't enthralling. There wasn't an exciting edge of your seat plot, or even anything seriously curious. On the other hand I wasn't bored and I wanted to keep reading. Maybe in hopes that something really moving would happen. It did, slightly towards the end. To say too much in detail would be to give away the story
Chevalier wonderfully captures life in London in the late 18th century in this story of a family's move from the Dorsetshire countryside to the city and their son's interaction with William Blake. Much of the plot is devoted to the growing friendship between London newcomer Jem, and city-kid Maggie. Maggie's terrible "secret" about cut-throat lane isn't much of a surprise by the time she tells Jem the truth about it. And the relationship between the two of them and William Blake (Jem's next door ...more
Martine Peacock
Aug 09, 2011 Martine Peacock rated it did not like it
My claim to fame is that I once shared tea and cake with Tracy Chevalier in a park by Highgate Cemetery, so I want to love this lady. And I have loved her books... until now. Started this last night. I'm a fifth of the way thru and bugger all has happened. The characters are all hideously cliched. The beauty of her writing has gone. I wondered if maybe it was me, but having read some of the other reviews, I find I'm not alone, and that I can safely despatch this book to the trash bin without mis ...more
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
Tracy Chevalier has written some excellent books in the past but this definitely isn't one of them! I found it dull (the plot is particularly weak and lacked substance) and didn't really care for any of the characters (they are one-dimensional, predictable and never really come alive). Chevalier fails to bring the London of 1790s alive as she did with Delft in "Girl With A Pearl Earing" and her description of the city is never-ending and rather forgettable. The book completely lacks passion and ...more
Mar 25, 2013 Charly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone. Especially Chevalier and Dickens fans
Another wonderful visit by Chevalier to earlier European times. This was a visit to the world of William Blake in 1792 London. A wonderful tale of unique characters woven around Blake's circumstances makes this another work by her that is well worth the read.

Dickens fans will especially enjoy her depiction of London and the surrounding areas.
Jul 28, 2009 travelerblue rated it really liked it
Innocence and experience - opposites, or are we all in the middle of the river...
Maria Esseh
Feb 04, 2017 Maria Esseh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Am citit cartea acum ce vreme și îmi amintesc că o împrumutasem de la bibliotecă. Nu m-am uitat la autor și sincer nici când am făcut-o nu mi-am amintit că autoarea este cea care a scris Fata cu cercel de perlă, o carte care mie mi-a plăcut foarte mult. Cred că asta m-a făcut să îi dau cinci stele fiindcă dacă mi-aș fi amintit de Fata cu cercel de perlă aș fi avut multe așteptări, prea mari pentru această carte. Ca de obicei autoarea se inspiră din fapte reale și surprinde mentalitatea britanică ...more
Mar 08, 2015 Arlenis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Este es definitivamente un libro que disfruté. Al principio me costó engancharme pero una vez que le agarré la vuelta, no hubo quien me parara mas que el sueño. Nos adentra al mundo de un Londres de finales de 1700 con todo aquel ajetreo que se vivía en Francia y cómo afectaba a la ciudad. La historia se ve desde los ojos de la familia Kellaway (Anne, Tom, Jem y Maisi) y Maggie una pre-adolescente que pertenece mas a las calles de los barrios del viejo Londres que a cualquier otro lugar.

La fami
Jan 02, 2011 Susan rated it liked it
You know how sometimes you go to a museum and you see a painting by a not-so-famous artist, and you think, "Oh that's pretty," and then you see one by a master, and you're not sure if it's pretty but you know it's glorious? Well, Burning Bright is sitting next to Daniel Defoe on my bookshelf, and it's a similar situation. The cover is pretty, Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience are accessible but thought provoking, the characters are in general decent and developed, and the writing seems b ...more
Feb 14, 2012 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I enjoyed reading this book, as I have enjoyed all of this author’s books that I have read. It is an added plus that poet William Blake is a major character in this book, as I love his poetry (even if I have trouble at times understanding it).

The book is set almost entirely in 1792 London. A son of the Kellaway family in rural Dorsetshire died by falling out of a pear tree, and in attempt to ease his wife’s grief at the loss, chairmaker Thomas Kellaway has removed his wife, his teenage daughter,
Dec 14, 2011 Roberta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, storico
Un romanzo storico
ambientato nella Londra vittoriana e basato sul concetto fondamentale dell'ambivalenza dell'animo umano. La Chevalier tratteggia le figure di Jem, Maisie e Maggie alle prese con i loro problemi e le avventure quotidiane. A fronte di una ricostruzione storica impeccabile (non sono un'esperta e non posso valutare la precisione, ma sicuramente l'autrice riesce a farci entrare in un'epoca lontanissima dalla nostra senza farcelo assolutamente pesare) ci sono però dei gravi difetti.
Rachel Burton
Oct 24, 2007 Rachel Burton rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008, general-fiction
Now this is more like the Blake I love!

What Tracy Chevalier did for 17th Century Delft in Girl with the Pearl Earring and 15th Century Brussels in The Lady and the Unicorn, she has done for Georgian London; especially a row of houses in Lambeth known as Hercules Buildings.

William Blake, poet, engraver, genius, madman, lived at number 13 Hercules Buildings during the 1790s. In Chevelier’s story a family of chairmakers from Dorsetshire, the Kellaways, move to number 12 after a family tragedy and a
Apr 14, 2013 Paula rated it really liked it
I love Tracy Chevalier. I can't even imagine the time and effort it takes to research the area's and people of history that she writes about. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and Chevaliers books always take us right inside another time and place, feeling the emotions, hearing the sounds and smelling the air.

Burning Bright is set in the early 1790's of London, where Thomas Kellaway and has recently moved his family to try to outrun the memories of the recent loss of one of their sons. Th
Nancy McKibben
Aug 13, 2013 Nancy McKibben rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Chevalier
Burning Bright
By Tracy Chevalier

As an admirer of the poet William Blake, I was curious to see how Chevalier might approach his odd life. Her choice was to make him the eccentric neighbor to a Dorsetshire family that has moved to London at the behest of circus entrepreneur Philip Astley, an actual historical figure. Although the viewpoint shifts, the story is told primarily through the eyes of young Jem Kelloway, the son of the Dorsetshire chairmaker, and Maggie Butterfield, the street smart youn
Great atmospherics in this tale about a family that moves from the county to the slums of London in 1792. As in the two other books of hers I read ("Girl with a Pearl Earring" and "Remarkable Creatures"), Chevalier is marvelous in her ability to immerse the reader in another place and time. Her cast of characters this time focuses on three young teens, siblings Jem and Maisey Kellaway, who are children of a furniture maker, and Maggie, a street-wise kid who befriends them, the daughter of a con ...more
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Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier 3 27 Aug 04, 2013 02:08PM  
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19 October 1962 in Washington, DC. Youngest of 3 children. Father was a photographer for The Washington Post.

Nerdy. Spent a lot of time lying on my bed reading. Favorite authors back then: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madeleine L’Engle, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Joan Aiken, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander. Book I would have taken to a desert island: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.

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