New Zealand Woman’s Weekly



- Nicky Pellegrino BOOKS EDITOR

Isettled into bed to read a couple of chapters of this book and you can guess what happened. Hours later I was still awake, entranced by a historical novel that is funny, poignant, engaging and, most of all, so exuberant.

Ursula Flight is born as a comet streaks across the sky in December 1664. She enjoys an idyllic childhood growing up in the countrysid­e, running wild through the woods with her friends and making them act in the plays she loves to write.

But Ursula has been born into the gentry and it is her duty to make a good marriage. She is only 15 when her childhood ends. The much older, unattracti­ve and very rich Lord Tyringham is to become her husband. She is sent away from her family, to his vast and lonely house, where she is trapped with his odious family.

It seems Ursula will never realise her dreams of visiting London or going to the theatre, that she will never have friends, happiness or passion. Worst of all, her true love – the boy she once kissed – seems lost to her forever.

This may sound desperatel­y depressing but trust me, it’s not. Ursula is such an irrepressi­ble character and the story is told partly through funny scenes from the plays she writes as well as diary extracts, letters and lists of random things, so it’s continuall­y amusing.

There is a feminist undertone to all of it. But while the reader is made very aware how little choice and freedom the generation­s of women before us had – even the strong, smart, wealthy ones such as Ursula – it’s caught up in a such a glorious romp of a story that it never feels heavy-handed.

I loved the originalit­y of this novel – I’ve never come across any historical fiction quite like it. Most of all, I enjoyed the company of the spirited and wonderful Ursula Flight for all its 400plus pages. This is a gorgeous read and I am thoroughly recommendi­ng it.

 ??  ?? BOOK of the WEEK
The Illuminati­on of Ursula
Flight by Anna- Marie Crowhurst (Allen & Unwin, RRP $32.99).
BOOK of the WEEK The Illuminati­on of Ursula Flight by Anna- Marie Crowhurst (Allen & Unwin, RRP $32.99).
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