The Illumination of Ursula Flight
Shortlisted for the 2019 Historical Writers’ Association’s HWA Debut Crown award
One of Stylist’s must-read books of 2018
‘Original and charming, joyous and funny.’ Tessa Hadley
‘…[this] debut novel sweeps us away to the world of Ursula Flight, wannabe actress and playwright in 17th-century Britain. Ursula is a spirited and funny protagonist.’ Sarah Shaffi, Stylist
‘ON THE 15TH DAY OF DECEMBER IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 1664, A GREAT LIGHT BLOOMED IN THE DARK SKY…’
Born on the night of a bad-luck comet, Ursula Flight has a difficult destiny written in the stars. Growing up with her family in the country, she is educated by a forward-thinking father who enables her to discover a love of reading, writing and astrology. Ursula dreams of becoming a famous playwright, but is devastated to learn she must instead fulfil her family’s expectations and marry. Trapped and lost, Ursula plots her escape – but her freedom will come at a price.
As Ursula’s dangerous desires play out, both on and off the stage, she’s flung into a giddy world of actors, aristocrats and artistic endeavours which will change her life irrevocably.
A gutsy coming-of-age story about a spirited young woman struggling to lead a creative life, this uplifting tale vividly evokes the glittering world of Restoration-era theatre. For anyone who has ever tried to succeed against the odds, The Illumination of Ursula Flight is an inspiring journey of love and loss, heartbreak and all-consuming passion. This is a debut pulsating with life for readers of Jessie Burton, Sarah Waters and Sarah Perry.
...[this] debut novel sweeps us away to the world of Ursula Flight, wannabe actress and playwright in 17th-century Britain. Ursula is a spirited and funny protagonist. -- Sarah Shaffi * Stylist * A glorious book, cleverly done and lushly written with a witty, vivid heroine. -- Kiran Millwood Hargrave Witty, engaging and very clever, The Illumination of Ursula Flight is absolutely my kind of novel. -- Elizabeth Fremantle This sprightly, romping novel revels in its period: the Restoration world of Ursula Flight is presented with irresistible relish. Crowhurst's enthusiasm for her subject is contagious, and her playful handling of form shows great control and confidence. Bravo! -- Imogen Hermes Gower, author of THE MERMAID AND MRS HANCOCK This is, without doubt, a rollicking summer read - and Ursula Flight a 17th-century feminist hero for our post-#MeToo times. * The Pool * This 17th century coming-of-age tale is at once subversive, moving and utterly fresh and original. -- Nathan Filer I find this funny, eccentric, touching novel fairly irresistible. Ursula's story is told in an inventive mix of modes, through fragments and lists and plays and letters; it's a spirited funny romp and yet it feels much more than that too - touching and urgent and vivid. It's fluent, accomplished, polished, funny and charming. -- Tessa Hadley [A] hugely enjoyable, riotous coming-of-age debut * Sunday Express * The period of Charles II's Restoration really comes alive in this wonderfully drawn story and Ursula...is a heroine it's impossible not to love. * Red * [a] riotous coming-of-age debut * Psychologies * Told in Ursula's voice, interspersed with extracts from the unstaged plays into which she turns her everyday life, Crowhurst's novel is good, tongue-in-cheek fun. * Sunday Times * ...offers a joyous romp through Restoration England, with a heroine who lingers long in the imagination after the final page. * Guardian * ...abounds with ribald wit. Crowhurst has an affinity for table-turning Restoration theatre and a talent for deliciously pert dialogue. A thoroughly original work of imagination. * The Times *
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