The Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurst
(Atlantic, 2018)

The Illumination of Ursula Flight

by Anna-Marie Crowhurst

One of Stylist’s must-read books of 2018

Original and charming, joyous and funny.’ Tessa Hadley

‘…[this] debut novel sweeps us away to the world of Ursula Flight, wannabe actress and playwright in 17th-century Britain. Ursula is a spirited and funny protagonist.’ Sarah Shaffi, Stylist

ON THE 15TH DAY OF DECEMBER IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 1664, A GREAT LIGHT BLOOMED IN THE DARK SKY…’

Born on the night of a bad-luck comet, Ursula Flight has a difficult destiny written in the stars. Growing up with her family in the country, she is educated by a forward-thinking father who enables her to discover a love of reading, writing and astrology. Ursula dreams of becoming a famous playwright, but is devastated to learn she must instead fulfil her family’s expectations and marry. Trapped and lost, Ursula plots her escape – but her freedom will come at a price.

As Ursula’s dangerous desires play out, both on and off the stage, she’s flung into a giddy world of actors, aristocrats and artistic endeavours which will change her life irrevocably.

A gutsy coming-of-age story about a spirited young woman struggling to lead a creative life, this uplifting tale vividly evokes the glittering world of Restoration-era theatre. For anyone who has ever tried to succeed against the odds, The Illumination of Ursula Flight is an inspiring journey of love and loss, heartbreak and all-consuming passion. This is a debut pulsating with life for readers of Jessie Burton, Sarah Waters and Sarah Perry.

Reviews

Original and charming, joyous and funny ”
- Tessa Hadley
…[this] debut novel sweeps us away to the world of Ursula Flight, wannabe actress and playwright in 17th-century Britain. Ursula is a spirited and funny protagonist.”
- Sarah Shaffi, Stylist
A glorious book, cleverly done and lushly written with a witty, vivid heroine.”
- Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Witty, engaging and very clever, The Illumination of Ursula Flight is absolutely my kind of novel.”
- Elizabeth Fremantle
Crowhurst has an affinity for table-turning Restoration theatre and a talent for deliciously pert dialogue. A thoroughly original work of imagination.”
- Johanna Thomas-Corr, The Times
It’s an airy approach that makes Crowhurst’s take on the tale such a pleasurable read… [But] beneath the lighthearted veneer is a spirited – and very relevant – story of a young woman vulnerable to a man’s abuse of power. She won’t be fooled twice, though.”
- Moya Lothian-McLean, Stylist
This spritely, romping novel revels in its period: the Restoration world of Ursula Flight is presented with irresistible relish. Crowhurst’s enthusiasm for her subject is contagious, and her playful handling of form shows great control and confidence. ”
- Imogen Hermes Gowar, author of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock
…to weave a deft storyline that lightly touches on historical accuracy and narrative brilliance isn’t easy; thankfully, The Illumination of Ursula Flight does just that… This is a book to savour (the hardback is particularly beautiful thanks to intricate illustrations by Elzo Durt), with Ursula a heroine to hold dear.”
- Emerald Street
The period of Charles II’s Restoration really comes alive in this wonderfully drawn story and Ursula, especially through her lists, letters and plays woven through the book, is a heroine it’s impossible not to love.”
- Sarra Manning, Red