Review published on April 10, 2018.
This debut, coming of age, historical fictional book is set in 17th century England. It dallies with issues relating to the power in relationships, the vulnerability of women during that era and captures an example of a life led that with hard work, amidst tough circumstances, lest a strong will allows a young woman to undertake a difficult journey that ultimately gives her the ability to lead an independent and influential life.
For Ursula has yearned to be a playwright since a young girl. The eldest of three children, her father educated her so she could read and write and be quite scholarly, despite wider views that she should not. They discussed many varied things and her horizons were broadened. Yet at just 15 years old she is betrothed to an old bore and swept away to a country estate, where she is constrained in everything that she can do. She can read only occasionally and in absolute secret.
Suffocated by tedium at home, a visit to the king’s courts of London with her husband offers her the chance to become worldlier and flourish; albeit it is not necessarily an easy experience. But her life will never be the same thereafter.
It is written with flair and an independent style that a playwright may evoke. It is generally an easy read, which has good pace and progression to the somewhat expected denouement. Ursula is likeable and you want for her to break free from the constraints and control of her lusting husband. She is naive but circumstances accelerate her maturity and she faces it head on without self-pity or maudlin. As such she is inspiring and I did shed a tear towards the end. A good mix of situations, with great discussion points and a saga that make for a worthy, authentic and charming read.
Sara Garland 4/5
The Illumination of Ursular Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurst
Allen and Unwin 9781760632014 hbk May 2018