Within the last few months I have started to really get into historical fiction with strong female leads; women who are modern for their time & whom totally rock their corsets. The Illumination of Ursula Flight is yet another one of these incredible books & I’m so pleased to add Ursula to my list of favourite historical (alas, fictional) women!
I received this book from Atlantic Books in return for an honest review.
This book includes sexist slurs, detailed sex scenes & marital rape.
If you’ve read & loved Elijah’s Mermaid by Essie Fox, The Pharmacist’s Wife by Vanessa Tait, She Be Damned by M. J. Tjia &/or The Mermaid & Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower then don’t even bother to read this review – add The Illumination of Ursula Flight to your ever-growing TBR immediately! Ursula fits in with the leads in those books fantastically; I would love to get these gals together in one room to feel the feminist power & pure intelligence that would emanate from all of them.
Can you tell that I loved this book? Well if you couldn’t, I did. I loved following Ursula’s life – sometimes books like this, that take you on a journey through someone’s life, are so refreshing & addictive; & this was one of them. The book starts in Ursula’s childhood, which involves her & her best friend/maid running wild through the woods near their home, the book then moves on to when Ursula is forced into a betrothal with a man older than her father, the death of her father, her loveless & boring marriage to said older-than-her-father gentleman, an affair of passion & childhood love, through total despair & ends with all of Ursula’s long-held dreams coming true. It’s a bloody fantastic story & I came to very much love Ms. Flight by the end of it.
The writing in this book left me a little unsure at first, but once I was used to it I was able to really appreciate how much effort had been put into creating Ursula’s voice. Often, in historical fiction novels of this kind, the main character speaks very modernly – even if a lot of research has gone into the time period the story is set in, & this is often done to help the reader to connect to the protag. But, Ursula’s voice was clearly the product of a lot of reading into the past & I really appreciated the effort that had gone into this as it made me feel like I was reading the diary of a woman born in the 1600s, thus making the whole experience a lot more emotional. And seriously, the emotion I felt during this read was ridiculous – Ursula’s feelings freely flowed out of the pages & into my mind, to the point where I was genuinely feeling everything Ursula was… because of this Ursula became almost tangible to me & by the end I genuinely felt like I knew her.
Whilst I’m touching on the research; I loved the settings in this story too – this time period, & the 250 years before it, is my favourite time in English history so books set in these times really pull me in. Crowhurst did a brilliant job of helping me imagine the places Ursula visits during this story & I loved the small details that were often mentioned. The descriptions often felt very honest, which is a strange way to describe them, but I’m sticking to it – they felt real, like Crowhurst was describing places she’d been to herself.
As for the story itself, it was interesting throughout; even when Ursula was living through the boring period of her life *ahem*her marriage*ahem* I was still thoroughly invested in the book; I didn’t want to put this story down & was always excited to pick it back up again. There were a few twists & surprises thrown into the mix as well, which is always great, & although I could predict where the book would eventually end up, the ending was still a pleasant read. When I finished the book I was very sad, & despite being in the middle of a different book now, I still find myself missing Ursula & her antics. I would absolutely love to host a character interview with Ursula; so Anna-Marie, if you ever read this please think about it!
Atlantic Books genuinely do spoil me with some fantastic titles & I’m forever grateful to them for it – I really did enjoy this book & would love it if you picked it up yourself. You can order the book using the links below. If you use the Amazon or Book Depository links to make a purchase I will receive a small fee at no cost to you, so please consider doing so.
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Book Depository | Waterstones | Wordery
Unfortunately, this title is not available on Audible, which sucks because I’d love to hear Ursula’s voice!