Synopsis from Amazon:
Set in nineteenth-century Oxford, and shot through with a powerful sense of magic, Elizabeth Garner’s new novel will appeal both to fans of historical fiction and to the huge Susanna Clarke/Philip Pullman fanbase.
In nineteenth-century Oxford, an extraordinary child is born – Edgar Jones, a porter’s son with a magical talent. Though his father cannot see beyond his academic slowness, his abilities as a metalworker and designer are quickly noticed, and become a source of tension within the family. When Edgar comes to the attention of a maverick professor at work on a museum of the natural sciences, Edgar is at once plucked from obscurity and plunged into the heart of a debate which threatens to tear apart the university. Edgar’s position is a dangerous one – will he be able to control the rebellious spirit that fires his inventiveness, but threatens to ruin him, and to break up his family once and for all?
I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t know what to expect from the blurb, and in fact it is a lot more complex than the blurb lets on. The star of the show is Edgar. He is an exception in every way. He is a genius. From a young age he is creative, exploring the local neighbourhood and inventing all kinds of things. He catches the attention of an Oxford professor, who uses Edgar for his needs and then dismisses him. Edgar, just a child, seeks revenge, which could cause mayhem and destruction wherever he goes, but can anyone, or anything really keep him down?
This is an exciting, gripping book. Garner is a literary genius. Her descriptions are full and rich. Her writing style is easy to get into and enjoyable. She is imaginative and creative. I liked her characters, how each was different and how they all fitted together to make this wonderful book. She explores history, God and science and family values. All of which she does successfully.
I don’t think the ending was particularly convincing, but that is the only compliant. This is a must-read book.