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I love the words and the sentences and the story they add up to; I was moved emotionally and intellectually; provoked and challenged.

So what happens to all our self agonising when we come up against a virus that does not give a hoot what our name is or what we want to do. There are many graphic sex scenes (between Edith and Halit and in memories of her former lovers) but they never felt gratuitous or cheap; being thrown together as a pandemic rages outside the walls of Burntcoat is a baptism by fire and this relationship burned intensely. Burntcoat is undeniably dark, intense and unsettling, but it is also incredibly good, utterly compelling and completely gripping. There is a very obvious physicality within the novel, whether it is sex, or landscape or natural surroundings, all of which reflect Edith’s career and terms of reference.

It's also a beautiful and often feral story about a once in a lifetime love, a mother-daughter relationship that is different from usual ones and it's a book about art, creation and craftsmanship. Edith Harkness is a sculptor whose works are based on this ancient Japanese art with her most famous work being the Witch, a huge installation that is reminiscent of The Angel of the North. At fifty-nine, Edith is living alone at Burntcoat, her warehouse-sized studio-cum-apartment, purchased several years earlier with the proceeds from a prestigious prize. Edith comes across like a composite of artists like Sarah Lucas and Tracey Emin, vulnerable but fiercely feminist, keenly aware of the challenges of being a woman creating art, of the difficulty of negotiating male-dominated spaces.

In the end though, I felt they were sufficiently connected to form a novel, albeit one with a number of different interconnected facets. Nevertheless, something inherent to Naomi was displaced during the stroke, rupturing her sense of self and deep-rooted psyche.I applaud Hall for her efforts and those other readers for their appreciation, even if the best thing about Burntcoat for me was the absolutely stunning cover. The scenes where the feverish man and the exhausted woman come together in their infected bed have an extraordinary erotic intensity; it is there also in the brutally visceral descriptions of his final decline. It is narrated by 59-year old Edith Harkness, a survivor, who surveys the life-changing pandemic with the benefit of intervening time. What’s fascinating here, though, are Hall’s revelations about illness and its relationship to creativity and to sexuality. This story centres around a COVID-like virus; however, the virus presented here is more severe and the public’s response slightly more dangerous.

Also of broader significance is Edith’s most famous installation, ‘The Witch at Scotch Corner’, an enormous Angel-of-the-North type structure, also known as ‘ Hecky’. I'm deliberately keeping this review short because I think each reader deserves to experience the trajectory of the story for themselves. I could have dyed a dozen shades inspired by the imagery in this book but I ended up with these five. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that the material is credited and referenced to JacquiWine’s Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.As Halit passes lockdown (“that strange aestivation”) with Edith in her warehouse on the rural edge of a northern city, there are shortages and looting, curfews and armed patrols. That explicitness also appears in the detailed description of the process of deterioration Halit and Edith go through, due to the disease ('pain porn'! She took an M Litt in Creative Writing at St Andrew's University and stayed on for a year afterwards to teach on the undergraduate Creative Writing programme. The story of a fictional pandemic, it’s told by an artist looking back on her experiences as she creates a commissioned sculpture to memorialize the victims.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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