Bone China by Laura Purcell

Posted On 28 October 2019

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BoneChinaBone China is the third book I’ve read by Laura Purcell and firmly cements her in my mind as an amazing storyteller.  I might not have quite loved the story here as much as the previous two books but the writing is amazing and Purcell’s ability to conjure a novel full of gothic atmosphere is second to none.  I just love her writing.  Definitely an auto buy author for me and I look forward to seeing what she does next.

Bone China brings to us a story of two women.  Told in alternating timelines we first make the introduction of Hester Why as she makes her way by carriage to Moroven House.   Hester has taken a new position and travels by coachlight during a bout of particularly fierce weather.  We discover immediately that Hester is hiding something and in fact has taken on a different identity hoping to start afresh.  All will be eventually revealed as to why exactly Hester has felt the need to runaway from her past.

The second timeline takes us back to the past when Dr Pinecroft and his daughter Louisa take up residence at Moroven House.  The rest of their family have died, taken by consumption, and Dr Pinecroft is determined to find a cure for this deadly disease that steals so many lives.  He’s using the beach at Moroven as an experiment and has moved a number of prisoners, all at different stages of the disease, to a cave there, where he believes the sea air will help to revive them.

Both stories have an edge to them that involves myth and folklore.  There is talk of the fae and changelings and both tales have a creepy ominous feel that deepens as each story progresses.  I also really liked that some of the characters play a role in both stories although I won’t discuss that particular element further.

What I think works really well here is the atmosphere that Purcell creates.  A sense of dark foreboding where you almost want the main protagonist to simply get the hell out of there – I know that’s what I’d want to do anyway.    Deliciously dark.

In terms of the characters I think this might be the only element that kept me from being totally bowled over.  Hester is an unreliable narrator which is actually something I usually enjoy very much and up to a point it works really well here.  I think my main issue is that I couldn’t really find it in myself to like Hester.  Her earlier actions with her former employer were very dubious to say the least – I won’t say that she was fully to blame for the chain of events that occurred but her actions, prompted by jealousy, were bad, very very bad, and so even though some of her later actions helped to redeem her a little I think her earlier character decisions were difficult to shake off.  In fairness, at the same time that this gave me pause I also have to applaud it because it’s so suitable for this style of book.  Hester isn’t perfect.  She’s made mistakes and has run away to escape the consequences but her new position feels akin to out of the frying pan into the fire and it has this feel of retribution, like there simply is no way of running away from your own actions.

I enjoyed the earlier timeline with a young Louisa Pinecroft desperately trying to help her father and stop him floundering with despair and guilt.  This is a story that also begins to spiral out of control with the doctor himself becoming consumed with a kind of hysterical madness.  I felt for Louisa and again I think that the fact that she was so trapped in the craziness that began to unfold left me feeling a little dissatisfied although i can’t entirely pin down why, I guess I wanted things to work out better for her but then again – the nature of this type of story.

This is definitely a book that has had me turning around in circles.  There are so many things that I loved about it.  The writing – which is beautiful and evocative.  The setting, with the Cornish coast really playing into the story and in fact becoming almost like a character itself.  The spooky house, the superstitions.  The sense of impending doom.  In fact, the more I think about it this book really has managed to grab my attention and keep it for considerably longer than I would normally expect.

I did enjoy this and the more I think about it the more elements of the story, when played over in my mind, on reflection were just really damned good.  I think the only thing that keeps me from being blown away is a combination of two factors, the first the authors phenomenal success with both The Silent Companions and the Corset – oh my, did I love those two books and even though I don’t want to compare it’s kind of difficult, not to mention inevitable really, that those comparisons will take place – would I have loved this more if I hadn’t read the first two – very likely, but I’ll never really know.  The second is just an overall feeling that I wanted maybe a happier ending somehow – although, that being said this is gothic and happy bunnies and rainbows are not often part of the general landscape.

On a totally fickle note I simply have to mention the cover – it really ties into the book so very well and gives me a serious case of the heebie jeebies.

I would rate this 4 out of 5 stars

And, I cannot wait to see what Laura Purcell comes up with next.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher, through Netgalley, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.




17 Responses to “Bone China by Laura Purcell”

  1. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Oh my I can’t wait until this gets released in the US, hopefully it won’t be long – as I recall there wasn’t too much of a wait for The Poison Thread, so hopefully no need to hit up the Book Depository just yet, though it’s tempting. This sounds good!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It is full of beautiful writing and very evocative so even though I didn’t like the story quite as much it’s still a great read.
      Lynn 😀

  2. pagesandtea

    I’ve just started reading this one and so far I’m enjoying it. I haven’t reached the second narrative yet, but that house in Cornwall is already pretty creepy, and I can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen.
    Great review 🙂

  3. Barb @ Booker T's Farm

    Great review. I am hoping to finally get to Silent Companions this December or at least early January. This sounds like a great spooky book for this time of the year.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It really was. I hope you love the silent companions, I really did.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Carmen

    Great review, Lynn! I’ll have to check out this one and Corset because I went bananas for The Silent Companions.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Ohh, I so loved the Silent Companions. Laura Purcell is definitely an auto buy author for me.
      Lynn 😀

  5. bkfrgr

    Awesome! I saw this in the library only the other day – good to know it’s another goodie from Purcell. 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      I just adore her writing, she’s so good at gothic. She totally has it nailed and even though the story in this one didn’t wow me quite as much as the other two I still enjoyed it very much.
      Lynn 😀

  6. waytoofantasy

    Alright you have convinced me, I will add a Laura Purcell book to my TBR pile. Great review! 🙂

  7. jessicabookworm

    I really need to try this author! 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, you would love her – I know this for absolute sure. Start with the Silent Companions though – so good. Gothicy goodness.
      Lynn 😀

  8. Best of the Best list : 2019 | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Bone China by Laura Purcell […]

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