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The Illumination of Ursula Flight

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  691 ratings  ·  169 reviews
The charming, droll (and just a little bit bawdy) picaresque tale of one woman's coming of age both on and off the stage in seventeenth-century England.

On the 15th day of December in the year of our Lord 1664, a great light bloomed in the dark sky and crept slowly and silently across the blackness: a comet. Every evening afterwards, though snow lay on the ground and the
Paperback, 416 pages
Published April 18th 2018 by Allen & Unwin
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  691 ratings  ·  169 reviews

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Britta Böhler
Utterly charming and delightful but with depth as well.
Lucy Banks
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

A beautifully bawdy feminist romp - part period drama, part post-modernist mayhem. Loved it.

Ah. You can't beat a lively period novel, complete with a cast of memorable (and occasionally vile) characters and bawdy goings-on. Most of the best ones tend to be written several hundred years ago, yet here we are with a 21st century novel that fits right in amongst them. However, despite its strong mark of period
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ursula Flight is a sheer delight! Set in the time of King Charles and Nell Gwynn, Ursula is irrepressible. Her voice is captured so well by the author and the story as a whole is wittily written. The plays she writes from an early age are the highlights of the book. Such a great heroine, she finds her place, calling in life and learns to be an independent and resourceful young woman, beholden to no one. An inspiring and original story, rich in historical detail. Recommended.
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
December 15th, 1664. The dark night is lit up by a comet, something that wasn’t particularly seen as a good omen in those days. While this comet travels along, Ursula Flight is born and this is how her story starts and the reader is taken on the most delightful journey through her life.

Ursula is one of those characters you just fall in love with the second you meet her. Born into a well to-do family, she’s fun, fierce, determined, inquisitive, imaginative, wise for her age and for the times. She
Ova - Excuse My Reading
I took my time to read this book. Ursula is definitely an original and refreshing character. I liked the form of the book, written as a journal. The story is also good, definitely not dull. but there's still a flatness in this book, I can't put my finger on it but maybe because everything is told from Ursula's perspective and she always does and thinks the expected. I felt like she stopped being interesting after a point and unfortunately I had to push myself to read until the end, I can't say ...more
Eric Anderson
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Margaret Cavendish's writing for the first time recently and, while I enjoyed its creativity, vigour and sheer oddity, I longed to get a taste of what day to day life would have really been like for an intelligent female writer of the 17th century. Danielle Dutton partly answered this in her take on Cavendish's life in her recent exquisite novel “Margaret the First”. Now Anna-Marie Crowhurst has imagined the dramatic life of a female playwright named Ursula who narrates her own story from ...more
Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)
It's been less than 24 hours since I finished the book, but I already know that this story will stay for me for some time. Ursula is born at the end of Cromwell's reign and grows up during the restoration of Charles II. Her father indulges her, teaches her to read, instructs her in sciences, languages and mathematics and yet at the age of 15 and a good match is sought for her and she is married off to a man, 20 years her senior that has a lot of property and an influential position. He and his ...more
Ursula gives us the story of her life in her own inimitable fashion starting with her birth as a comet crosses the sky and her childhood encounter with an actress that sparks her interest in the theatre. Having an unusually enlightened father, Ursula learns Latin, Greek and other languages, studies astronomy and reads every book and play she can lay her hands on. Soon she’s trying her own hand at writing plays, depicting scenes of love, comedy, mischief and a little wishful thinking that are ...more
Lisa *OwlBeSatReading*
I've read a lot of historical fiction over the years, but I have never experienced the pleasure that I got from this one before.

To say this was exceptional doesn't do it the justice it deserves.
The reading experience was phenomenal as it was written in diary format, including Ursula’s take on her life written like a play. It was the most unique way I have come across in a long time.

The cover art of this hardback is stunning. It is one of my favourite on my bookshelf and I often pick it up
Andrea Zuvich
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Illumination of Ursula Flight is a largely lighthearted coming-of-age historical novel set in 1670s/1680s England and centres on the life (from birth to adulthood) of Ursula Flight. The book begins with a style often used by novels of the 17th century and made me immediately think of Daniel Defoe’s works. This tale is told in the first person by Ursula, a girl who is born into a well-to-do family. Her father gives her a thorough education (which was rare for girls at this time). She takes a ...more
Victoria Gilbert
I was expecting a lot from this after reading some of the reviews. Also the hardback copy was to pretty and enticing to ignore.
The writing is strong and the setting of restoration England was fascinating. It was great to read of the lives of women in this era. I find myself to often in Tudor England or Victorian England!
Ursula is an interesting character and as everything is written in a diary form we really only get to know Ursula.
This is were I struggled, the other characters piqued my
A light and fast read with some very amusing segments as Ursula Flight pursues her dreams of independence and success as a playwright in Restoration London. Her success is mixed.... and the pitfalls lying in wait for young attractive women of means are plenty. The pages skipped through the fingers. Perhaps frothier than I expected but still fun with an interesting format, which includes extracts from all manner of Ursula's scribblings. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.
Joanne Robertson
Oh my days! My first read of 2019 and it has already set the bar very high indeed for the rest of the books I plan to read this year. The Illumination of Ursula Flight is a mesmerising and fearless frolic featuring a feisty female protagonist that it’s pretty impossible not to fall in love with. As with all the memorable heroines who standout in historical literature, the journey of self discovery that Ursula undertakes strips her character back to the bone, revealing every personality flaw but ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I love Ursula!
Which is fortunate as hers is the only perspective you're going to get...and I still loved it!
Set in 17th-century England, Ursula dreams of being a playwright.
She writes plays to entertain her friends as she grows in a privileged environment and then she is married off at a very young age but plots her escape from the ties that bind her.
Her dreams do not diminish and she continues to seek the life she desires no matter what life throws at her. Her journal is punctuated with funny
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Illumination of Ursula Flight is the first novel by British author, Anna-Marie Crowhurst. On December 15th, 1664, a daughter was born to Clifford Flight. Seeing the Great Bear in the night sky, he named her Ursula. At seven years of age, Ursula encountered a Drury Lane actress, and was enthralled with the whole concept of acting. By eight, her father was educating her thoroughly: literature, languages, drama, astronomy and more. Ursula also began writing her own plays and putting them on
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of Ursula who wants to be a playwright in 17th century London, despite it being dominated by men and the theatre being no place for a lady. This is a wonderful romp through Restoration England with shades of Tristram Shandy and Moll Flanders.
K.J. Charles
DNF on page 2. Literally unreadable--as in, I couldn't read the words. The publishers have chosen to format the epub PDF-style to keep all their lovely pretty layout twiddles, including the folios (ie the printed page numbers, very useful in an ebook, good thinking chaps), as a result of which the type comes up as a point size of maybe 6 on my Kobo Aura. Any attempt to enlarge it knocks off lines at the bottom of the page, rendering the reading experience either eye-straining or fiddly and ...more
Angie Rhodes
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Read and reviewed for Lovereading..
A wonderful , fun, charming book, Ursula, is the perfect heroine, I would love to see it made into a film.
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, favorites
This was the definition of an utter delight and I loved it so much! I haven't exactly been in a reading slump, but I've been having issues focusing and getting into some books lately and this could not have been a better time to read this book.

Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!

The Illumination of Ursula Flight is easily one of the most delightful and charming books I've read all year. It's engaging, unique, distinct in its voice, a little bawdy, and incredibly meaningful. This
By reading the synopsis in the book store, without having heard of the novel before, I knew to expect history, theatre and feminism, and all of those themes are evident throughout the book. What I didn’t foresee is how attached I would get to the main character; Ursula Flight is someone I won’t easily forget!

My utter enjoyment of her story made me overlook some faults I detected, like the overlong sentences and a bit unbelievable plot. They might bother some readers, but not me. Not when the
Karen Mace
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are looking for a fabulous new character to welcome into your life, then look no further! Ursula Flight is a delight!! From a inquisitive and imaginative child, to a determined and feisty woman, this book follows Ursula in a sparkling debut set in the 17th century.

Another thing I loved about this book was the way the story was written. It's all from the pen of Ursula, such as diary entries (think of the historic equivalent to Adrian Mole, or Bridget Jones!), alongside plays she wrote and
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written historical novel that will appeal to fans of Alison Weir, Philippa Gregory and Anne O'Brien.
Set in 17th Century England this is a stunningly inventive novel that focuses on Ursuala Flight. Her narration is partly formed by diary entries and scripts, and this is a really interesting addition and allows the reader to get additional insights into her character and what she is thinking and feeling.
I've read quite a few books set in the same time period and this one is
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gotta say, I really loved this book.

I loved how it incorporated different kinds of texts including playwriting by the main character Ursula, and also poetry. It was just so interesting to see Ursula go through the years and achieve her goal of becoming a playwright and actress.

I loved the fact that Ursula doesn't stop in trying. She was such a strong and quirky character who you could get behind. She's witty and sarcastic and just an overall loveable character.

I really enjoyed this and how it
Angelique Simonsen
This is an absolute delight of a book! Written in many different styles... diary, play, and others. The storyline is great, believable with a gutsy woman. Each stage of her life really resonates and I was shocked in samuel just as much as Ursula. Love this wee gem
Diane Dunn
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to Netgalley for this copy. Love historical fiction, not so much the era this is set in, Charles I and his associations with the acting community. A coming of age debut novel for Anna-Marie Crowhurst, well researched and detailed. Ursula Flight is encouraged by her father in her studies, she is well-read and an enthusiastic student, however upon his death marries a man older than herself and is forced to give up her passions of writing and acting and there she remains until her fortunes ...more
Vanessa Wild
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such an entertaining and fun romp set during the reign of King Charles II. Ursula Flight is born on the night of a comet. She’s strong willed, grows up to be a budding playwright and, by all accounts, is a 17th century feminist. This is her story as narrated by the girl herself in her own special and unique way.

I loved Ursula and her quirky voice. She’s a fantastic character with a great personality. She’s intelligent, feisty and determined. There is also a whole other cast of
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in 17th - Century Britain, this is a lush, vivid story of the life of Ursula Flight. Written as a story but also in diary and script form, it is wonderful.
I loved watching Ursula grow with every chapter and would highly recommend it to everyone.
Theresa Smith
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Born under a comet and named by her father for the Great Bear constellation, Ursula is a woman born centuries too soon. The first child of the family to have survived after multiple stillbirths, her father treasures Ursula’s keen mind, providing her with an education that would rival many men within her class. Coupled with her natural creativity, Ursula grows into a highly intelligent young woman, which of course, is completely at odds with the life she is destined for: marriage to a rich older ...more
Claire Randall
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book and didn't want it to end!!!! X
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Anna-Marie Crowhurst has worked as a freelance journalist and columnist for more than 15 years, contributing to The Times, The Guardian, Time Out, Newsweek, Emerald Street and Stylist. In 2016 she studied for an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, where her debut novel The Illumination of Ursula Flight was born. She lives in London.