The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
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August 18, 2015

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

If you had asked me if I'd like to read a new novel about a telegraphist working in Victorian London, I might have said, 'Sure.' {Historical fiction has been growing on me, especially historical mysteries.}  If you asked me whether I liked the first few pages, I would have said 'Oh yes!' {And so I did.} If you were a gentlemanly Japanese watchmaker, and quietly told me that I would soon finish this book and know it would be one of my favorite books for this year, I would have smiled wanly and asked you if you would like some tea so I wouldn't have to contradict you. And then it would have been just like the green dress and the man with the dog and the waiter who drops the tea tray.

I was just thinking about the book I read before this one, and all the ways I wanted it to be better, and then thinking that Natasha Pulley did all those things. She let us follow just one plot line, without knowing where it would go, and she focused on just three characters so they weren't so overcrowded.  She painted London and the places in it instead of telling me everything she knew about them. She asked us to suspend disbelief, but in ways that seemed believable {a contradiction, I know}. Her writing was often lovely (or funny, or both) and at times, a sentence or an observed moment gave me a little flutter.

...Mori watched him look, not for long, then pulled his hand back and folded his arms. It was a lonely thing to do, Thaniel thought. He wanted to ask what the matter was, but he saw Mori's shoulders stiffen at the approach of that future, then ease again when he stopped intending it.
      'Lord Carrow is outside our house,' he said. Thaniel sighed, because he had forgotten about grace and he was tired now, and not keen to argue with a man he didn't know. Mori didn't look at him, but his nearer shoulder eased back, like an opening door so that they could speak from adjoining rooms. 'You needn't do it.'
      Thaniel shook his head. 'I think it's a bit late for that.'

And though she did put in some real historical figures, two of them were Gilbert & Sullivan, which for me is almost as great as their being Henry James.

In the end what I loved most about this book was just that I simply enjoyed reading it...which for me is really what matters, however we find it. :)


Lisa said...

You've really made me want to read this book now - though I may have to get it through inter-library loan, and it won't be eligible to borrow for a while, drat it.

Jane @ Beyond Eden Rock said...

I'm so glad that you loved this too.

Terra said...

This post makes me want to read this book. I do love historical fiction about Victorian London and this author sounds very talented.

Cosy Books said...

My hold came in today and the first few lines made me want to dig in straight away! But, I've just handed out copies of 'Fingersmith' for another read-along with colleagues and then there's R.I.P....sigh. I'll have to find a window, Audrey.

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