The Book of Fires: A Novel

By Jane Borodale

"A fantastic debut" (Booklist) comparable to Geraldine Brook's Year of Wonders.

it truly is 1752, and seventeen-year-old Agnes Trussel is pregnant with an undesirable baby. dealing with yes distress at domestic, she flees rural Sussex for London. crushed through the crowded, grim streets, Agnes reveals herself on the domestic of Mr. J. Blacklock, a brooding fireworks maker who hires her as an apprentice. As she learns to make joins his quest to take advantage of impressive fireworks the realm has ever noticeable. in the meantime, the clock is ticking on Agnes's secret-but her mysterious mentor is hatching plans of his personal.

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Permit me see if i will be able to take into account . . . Agnes! ” “That’s right,” I say uneasily, taking the packet. i'm shocked that somebody understands my identify already. “Eccentric, that man,” she says, desirous to chat. “Though speak has it he was once an formidable guy 4 years in the past, then while his negative spouse died like that, so surprising . . . the spark looked as if it would pass correct out of him. ” it's precise there are numerous eyes within the urban. yet as I flip to move, anything happens to me. “Do you recognize a woman known as Lettice? Lettice Talbot? ” I ask, expectantly. “I am trying to find her. ” Mrs. Spicer frowns. “Lettice Talbot. No, I don’t imagine so, love. Wait a minute. Spicer! ” she shouts out unexpectedly, and a small guy looks from a door on the again. “Do we all know of any lady referred to as Lettice Talbot? ” Mr. Spicer pushes his spectacles additional up his nostril and shakes his head. “Not Talbot, no,” he replies. “There’s the Tallets, up by way of Cripple-gate, yet they haven’t acquired daughters. ” “I inspiration not,” Mrs. Spicer says. “More than a ten-year we’ve been right here, and understand most folk roundabouts. by no means heard that identify, love. ” She smiles at me and turns to serve one other client. “Good afternoon,” I say with courtesy then, and depart the store. on the finish of every day i'm exhausted. My correct arm aches like a heavy load from my shoulder as I spoon the supper into my bowl. occasionally Mr. Blacklock prefers to take his night meal once we have brushed the crumbs away and left him by way of the hearth. He reads his heavy, leather-covered books, frequently with out turning the pages. as soon as, as I stood as much as go away, he appeared up as though startled to determine me there. The hallway appeared a lonely area outdoor as I walked via it to the steps. occasionally he remains in his learn and we don't see him. within the evening i'm frequently woken from a deep sleep by means of the sound of his footsteps creaking the tread of the stair outdoors my room, a susceptible circle of candlelight stretching lower than the space within the door as he passes. different noises wake me, too. I listen the church bells in regards to the condo, every one in their a number of clamors turning into identified to me now. yet I freeze with terror while one evening a wierd deep bell tolls out above the others as they start to chime nighttime. it really is like an omen. God support us, i'm muttering as I scramble from mattress and pull my scarf approximately me. What can it suggest? At domestic while the church bell tolls all at once at evening it could simply portend catastrophe of 1 sort or different. I rush from my chamber and fly up the crooked attic stairs to rap at Mary Spurren’s door. “What is that bell? ” I say, breathless, while she opens the door a crack. “Bell? ” she says stupidly. Mary Spurren rubs her great head. i've got woken her up. We pressure our ears, however the bell’s terrible clang has stopped. Her shift is light within the spill of moonlight. “Is it dead night? ” she asks. “It is,” I say. “That will be St. Sepulchre’s bell, most likely. We’ll most probably discover the following day who’s to swing. ” Her head breaks right into a nice yawn. “It isn't a catastrophe, then? ” I say, doubtful of what she skill by way of this, and shivering now. “Not for us, no,” she says grumpily, and pushes the door closed.

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