No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Thursday, March 31, 2005

#28: Coram Boy -- Jamila Gavin

This novel, set in 18th-century England, is aimed (I'd guess) at older children and young adults. Its protagonists are all under 18, and the harsh realities of their lives are not bowdlerised. The title refers to the Coram Hospital for the Maintenance and Education of Foundling Children, the focal point of the novel, an institution which is viewed very differently by the different characters. For Meshak, who's mentally retarded, it's a place which has offered him sanctuary after escaping his blackguard father. For Toby and Aaron, it's their home: as orphans they have no other. For Otis Gardiner, Meshak's father, it's just a name: a name which can charm orphans and foundlings from their guardians, and into his villainous clutches.

I bought this book because it's about music, and music-making, and musical talent: Handel's Messiah, written for the Coram Boys, is featured strongly, and Thomas and Alexander start off as choristers before they're overtaken by adult responsibilities and Plot. I did feel that the book ended rather abruptly, and that climactic events -– deaths and marriages -– were all dealt with in unseemly haste, compared to the joys of witch-baiting and apple-scrumping so lavishly described earlier in the novel. An entertaining and evocative read, though, with thoughtful and credible characterisation.

reposted here from LJ in order to keep all my reviews in one place

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