George blends facts and fiction to deliver a perceptive and incredible story of British author, natural philosopher, geologist, conchologist, mineral collector, philanthropist, and banker, Elizabeth Carne’s journey to overcome the class system of the era. Elizabeth, the youngest of the eight siblings, doesn’t have a university degree like her brothers, but she’s capable nonetheless. As heiress to her father’s wealth, she has a family legacy to maintain. But finding success in a world, where woman’s only role is to remain within the walls of a household and maintain it, is more than difficult. George excels at characterization: she deftly explores the complex personalities of her protagonists, particularly Elizabeth’s, whose remarkable perspective and resolute spirit vividly come to life. The poignant first-person narration beautifully captures Elizabeth’s maturing perceptions along with her inner turmoil as she struggles to find a balance between her tender feelings for Henry and her father’s expectations, which align with her own ambitions. The narrative moves at a measured pace, the plotting remains tight, and the historical world that George creates is profoundly vivid and authentic. The author eloquently and powerfully writes of gender disparity while delving into the era’s class, racial, and economic tensions. Equally compelling as a historical novel and fictional autobiography, the novel honors known facts yet beautifully crafts its own striking version. This is one to savor.
Categories: historical fiction