The Illumination Of Ursula Flight – A Bawdy Little Tale About A Feisty Girl
The Illumination Of Ursula Flight. Born on the night of an ill-auguring comet just before Charles II’s Restoration, Ursula Flight has a difficult future written in the stars.
Against the custom of the age she begins an education with her father, who fosters in her a love of reading, writing and astrology.
Following a surprise meeting with an actress, Ursula yearns for the theatre and thus begins her quest to become a playwright despite scoundrels, bounders, bad luck and heartbreak.
Duffy’s Thoughts On The Illumination Of Ursula Flight
I had recently read The Pharmacist’s Wife and was still in a historical fiction mood when I picked up The Illumination Of Ursula Flight. First up, let’s get this out the way. It is one hell of a book title for a book blogger to type out, so I might keep the title sparse from here on in!
Young Ursula was born in 1664 on the night a comet flew through the sky and this sets the tone of the book and the fate of little Ursula. Author Anna-Marie Crowhurst has obviously immersed herself in the time as the language and references were so on point, it took a little time to adjust to the sentence structure. However, after a chapter or two I was tuned in and thoroughly enjoyed the young life of a willful child born into a comfortable home in the mid 1600’s.
The book is a delight to look at and quite unlike anything I’ve seen before. As you flip through the pages, it becomes almost like Ursula’s journal, dotted with notes, tips, lists and hand written plays. All written with a flourish, as if Ursula’s quill had hit the paper.
As Ursula hits womanhood, she understands that the life planned for her is not the one she wishes to take and unfortunately this was the point I began to tread water while reading. I’m not sure what it was, maybe it’s because by the second half, the book had really all been about Ursula and her thoughts and point of view without another main character to break it up. There is a maid, who is also a friend, but she is much maligned in favour of Ursula’s story and wilful charge. I found myself skipping through the play sections to get to the end and the book took a good week and a bit to finish which was a shame.
Overall, The Illumination Of Ursula Flight is a fun read, and the attention to detail of language and customs of the 1600’s is commendable. I almost wonder if this would have been better split into two books to keep the readers interest and allow more room for developed secondary characters.
Publisher: Allen&Unwin RRP: $29.99
Anna-Marie Crowhurst read English at King’s College London and has worked as a freelance fashion and culture journalist for more than 15 years, contributing to publications including The Times, The Guardian, Time Out, Stylist and Emerald Street.
Her debut novel The Illumination of Ursula Flight was written during her recent MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and was supervised by the award-winning novelist Tessa Hadley. Anna-Marie graduated with distinction in 2017. She lives in London.