I love, love, love this book. That’s really the only reason for this post.
When I picked it up I expected to read an exciting and fast-paced steampunk adventure (it had an airship on the cover, okay?) but it’s not that kind of book. It is an adventure though, and I was not disappointed. In fact I liked the prose so much I dragged it out and read the book so slowly I had to renew it 5 times.
If you think that’s bad I have a book on my shelf that I’ve been working on for a year… Yeah, I have issues.
The book is written by Esi Eduguyan, a new author to me, although this is her third novel. The language and story is fantastic, and deeply moving. It only takes a few pages for me to thoroughly believe Washington Black was a real person.
The story starts on a plantation in Barbados where we meet the 11-year-old Washington Black just before he becomes an assistant to the plantation owner’s brother, who is building a Cloud-cutter (a kind of airship/hot air balloon) on which they both later escape… If you wish to read a proper review, which also mentions Eduguyan’s other work, look here: “beautiful and beguiling“.
Her other books are definitely on my to-read-list. x
A while ago I visited the exhibition ‘Making your mark’ at the British Library (on until the 27th of August, go see it if you can!), which is all about the incredible invention of writing. The exhibition is beautiful and traces the history of writing from the evolution of writing systems, through materials, uses, to modern ways of writing. I’d never thought of writing as an invention before, just something that is as human as talking or breathing – a bit of a silly idea in hindsight.
There are some beautiful manuscripts and items in this exhibition, but strangely the one piece that I haven’t been able to forget was a permit allowing a woman to sell sex for one day only in a specific town (in ancient Rome I think). I’m not a historian so I can’t put this piece in its proper context, but it left me with a lot of questions. Why just one day, why this time, did she choose this herself, was she forced, what was she like, was this common? Infinite possibilities, especially if you have an overactive imagination. But that’s the magic of objects like this, for a brief moment you feel connected to real people who lived real lives centuries ago, rather than unknown blobs in an abstract past.
Museums are a great way to find writing inspiration for that very reason, because I quite often forget that reality tends to trump fiction. Of course, I should be editing my current project instead of looking for inspiration for new pieces, but hey, who’s perfect? x