Tuesday 27 March 2018

The Muse of Fire by Carol M Cram

shortlisted for Book of the Month

Amazon UK £3.40 £12.49
Amazon US $4.79 $16.95

family drama
1800s / Georgian 

'Abandoned at birth, the grandly christened Edward Plantagenet rises from London’s Foundling Hospital to take charge back stage at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, only to be blind-sided when he rescues Grace—a young woman escaping an abusive father.

Grace finds an outlet for her passions as a Shakespearean actress, becoming ensnared by intrigues and setbacks that mar the pathway to stardom she craves.

Set against the tumultuous backdrop of the Old Price Riots of 1809, Grace and Ned find common purpose in a quest that threatens to tear both their worlds apart.'

Grace is living in London after her father moved them there following the tragic death in a carriage accident of Grace's mother. Her father has turned to drink to bury his grief and when he lashes out at Grace, she runs out into the dark streets of London. She meets Ned, a young lad who works in the Theatre Royal backstage and Grace is introduced into a world she has dreamed of since she was a child.

Ms Cram's novel is a wonderful piece of work that conjures Georgian London and recreates a world where the theatre is today's Sky or Virgin Media and when prices go up at the theatre, it is a major crisis and causes riots. I had no idea such things happened and I have learned a great deal through reading this story.

The research is brilliantly done, rarely intrudes on the story and makes it feel authentic. Quotes from Shakespeare that pepper the narrative and head each chapter show that Ms Cram is a fan of the bard, and these little lines act as teasers for each chapter. You have an idea if the action is positive or negative for the characters.

What is also fresh and new about this novel is that you think you can see the love story coming and yet Ms Cram has several surprises up her sleeve. Nothing so obvious! 

This novel could sit alongside any mainstream volume on the shelves of a bookshop and a reader would not notice it is indie. If only Createspace could sort out the substrate and coatings on their covers, there would be nothing to suggest it was not published by a large house. 

This is a miss-my-stop-on-the-train good, and that is the high praise.

© Nicky Galliers

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