Laura Purcell presents a conflict between scientific rationality and more magical ways of thinking in Bone China. In Regency England, Esther Stevens flees potential scandal and arrest in London, and, under a new name, takes a job as a nurse in a remote Cornish household...
Reflections of the author’s reading in gothic fiction are much stronger than any sense of connection to the real world in Bone China, but it is an enjoyably overwrought exercise in dark melodrama.
"One Booker shortlist later, Galley Beggar were proved correct. Ellmann’s novel isn’t perfect, and it may not take the prize, but in a world where Ian McEwan is still at large, something introspective and richly painted is a tonic for us all...."
— The Daily Telegraph
4.25 out of 5
Your enjoyment of all this will depend on your tolerance for such melodramatic flourishes, and for Cornish dialect that at times is laid on thickly enough to fill a pasty. If you can get past these, then there’s plenty here to entertain you. Purcell has a sure storytelling touch, a command of atmosphere and a keen eye for the telling details of social history. Oh, and she stores up some satisfying and suitably macabre final revelations. If nothing else, you’ll never look at a service of fine bone china in quite the same way.