Well, here we are at the end of the first week of the readalong and – to my great surprise – I find myself way ahead of schedule and well into the second book already.
It is, most definitely, love.
What do I love?
I love that though this very big book, divided into three volumes, looks so much like a take on a Victorian novel, it is set somewhat earlier, during the Napoleonic Wars. And while I have seen it suggested that the style of some wonderful authors – Austen, Trollope and Dickens are the names I have seen most often – and while I can see all of those influences, none of them dominate. The style suits the period, suits the story, and it is the style of a storyteller with a keen eye, a gentle wit, and perfect control of her material.
I love that the world of this book is so very alive, that it is a very real England, overlaid with the history and presence of magic. The detail is wonderful, and the love that the architect of that world has for it shines from the pages.
I love that such a wonderful array of characters from that world have been presented to me, and that they are so very well drawn with just a few simple strokes. It seems that each and every one has a part to play, and there is no one I won’t be glad to see come to the fore. I shall be particularly pleased to see a little more of Mr Segundus and Mr Childermas …. and that reminds me that I am very taken with the names, which are distinctive without being gimmicky, and fitting without ever feeling contrived.
I love the magic, that has been so beautifully woven into real history and that is so nicely understated. The set pieces have been wonderful, and one of the things that I love most of all is that nearly all of the magic draws on the natural world. It would have been easy to overplay the magic, but that hasn’t happened. This remains a human story set in a real world where magic just happens to have a part to play.
I love that I have some idea where the story is going, but I don’t know too much, and I am so curious to know.
Most of all I am thrilled that I have found a book that appeals to both my childish love of a magical world and my grown up love of period fiction, that it is a book that has pulled me into a world that I don’t want to leave.
And I think that is reason enough for me to stop writing and start reading again …..