Hi Book Dragons! 🌻
We are nearing the end of January and I still can’t believe how this month breezed away! Hope you all are getting your reading done and not scrolling through Twitter most of the time (like me 🙈)!
I have been wanting to share my review of Bone China with you guys for a while now. But something would always come up for which I kept rescheduling the post. Exams happened, I fell ill, then a short vacation. Finally, today is the day!
I have also decided to make some changes to my blog and the type of posts I do. Hope you all would like the changes 💖
Consumption has ravaged Louise Pinecroft’s family, leaving her and her father alone and heartbroken. But Dr Pinecroft has plans for a revolutionary experiment: convinced that sea air will prove to be the cure his wife and children needed, he arranges to house a group of prisoners suffering from the same disease in the cliffs beneath his new Cornish home. While he devotes himself to his controversial medical trials, Louise finds herself increasingly discomfited by the strange tales her new maid tells of the fairies that hunt the land, searching for those they can steal away to their realm.
Forty years later, Hester Why arrives at Morvoren House to take up a position as nurse to the now partially paralysed and almost entirely mute Miss Pinecroft. Hester has fled to Cornwall to try and escape her past, but surrounded by superstitious staff enacting bizarre rituals, she soon discovers that her new home may be just as dangerous as her last.
I discovered Laura Purcell when I first had the opportunity to read Silent Companions and fell in love with the book right away! I knew then that I had to keep a track of Purcell’s future releases and guess who had a chance to read a proof copy of Bone China…this girl right here. All thanks to Bloomsbury India for sending me a copy.
Packed with a pseudo-medieval setting and bearing traces of mystery and horror knitted together with menacing and treacherous events, Laura Purcell’s Bone China perseveres through an alternating timeline set in the past and present. Presented as a true gothic historical novel, Bone China is atmospheric, unsettling, and disturbing with an underlying sense of mystery that courses through the entirety of the novel.
Purcell follows her iconic writing style capturing every sound, smell, and taste, adding to the eerie, spine-chilling setting of the novel. Her writing is also imbued with a dash of magic realism. Superstitious characters, the thematic strands, and realistic environments merge, allowing Bone China to retain its rich texture. Purcell didn’t have to resort to any ornamental literary technique. The realism was enough to foreground the haunting tale.
Situated in the outlying land of Cornwall, we find Hester Why wedged between an old woman and a “brute beast” of a man in the Mail Coach as she attempts to escape from her past life only to take up a position in Morvoren House where new tragedies befall upon her.
Already scared and shaky from her previous job as a maid to Lady Rose, she is alarmingly aware of the unsettling air in Morvoren House. To worsen the situation, the mute and partially paralyzed mistress of the house, Miss Louise Pinecroft always seems disoriented, her eyes painfully fixated on the fine China collection. The House staff with their superstitious beliefs and bizarre rituals adds to the disquiet in Morvoren House. We soon learn the backstory and how it all came down to this. But the transparency doesn’t help either.
Purcell’s Bone China reminded me of Wuthering Heights to some extent (minus the romance). There’s no doubt that I loved the setting, the characters, and the writing style. Purcell also stresses the problems of social hierarchy, atypical of aristocratic English society; Hester’s unconventional liking to Science and Medicine in the pseudo-medieval times, and her subtle rebellion against the norms of an “ideal woman”. The author merges naturalism well with the social angle.
My only complaint with the book is that the past and the present stories felt very disconnected even though they were clearly connected by the characters. I can’t exactly point my finger on it but there’s just something missing that made the disjointed timelines a tad bit disorganized. The narrative moves at a languid unhurried pace which may at times be a bit boring.
Bone China is without a doubt a plot-driven novel. The plot influences the actions of the characters rather than the characters acting first. The ending to the novel was surprising. I’ll leave it at that.
Bone China is such a complex novel with so many layers yet makes for such a compelling and emotive book to read. A perfect winter read! Its plaintive language and expressive motifs arouse a sense of melancholy.
If you have read Laura Purcell’s Silent Companions and The Corset, you definitely shouldn’t miss out on Bone China. Or if you are someone who still hasn’t read any of the books, Bone China is a good place to start!