Bone China, Laura Purcell: Book Review

Laura Purcell returns with another beautifully written gothic tale, focusing on mental health with a surprise element in the unputdownable Bone China.

The plot:

Morvoren House, Cornwall.

Consumption has ravaged Louise Pinecroft’s family, leaving her and her father alone and heartbroken. But Dr Pinecroft has plans for a revolutionary experiment to relaunch his medical career.

Forty years later, Hester Why arrives at Morvoren House to take up a position as nurse to the now partially paralysed and almost entirely mute Miss Pinecroft. Hester has fled to Cornwall to try and escape her past, but she soon discovers that her new home may be just as dangerous as her last…

Incredibly well done and jaw-dropping in its epic finale

I’ve been thinking about this book constantly since finishing it, and the more I think about it, the more I love it. If I carry on thinking about a book for a week after and find little quirks, or my mind wandering to Morvoren House, I know I’m on to a winner. It’s a very clever book.

I loved Purcell’s first book, The Silent Companions (my review here), so I was very excited to read this. In terms of the plot, I preferred the first, because it was definitely more gothic and chilling, whereas this was much more focused on mental health, and has shown the author’s skill with dealing with a difficult topic.

You can always trust in Purcell to set the scene well, without babbling, whilst still being descriptive and painting a picture for you.

Bone China covers different mental health in the different ways that it can be reflected – especially in a time where it wasn’t as widely discussed as is now. It’s a real thought-provoking book, and whilst you may not be guessing ahead, you’ll enjoy the ride. I really appreciate being able to think back and guess why the author wrote a specific phrase, for example.

The plot twist (if this is what was intended), wasn’t necessarily shocking. It made some pieces fit together, but I think it would have been better suited near the beginning of the book.

For those that have read a previous book by the author, we are once again reminded how incredible Purcell’s writing is. She is probably one of the best writers I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Everything is well thought-through, and she is particularly good at transporting you to a place and making you live through the characters.

It does have a dual timeline, and I don’t know how I feel about this. Normally I’m totally against it; I just don’t think the different parts flowed great for me personally, but it was beneficial for the reader to have that jumping back and forth, otherwise parts will be revealed too soon.

The ending was truly spectacular – it speeds up quite quickly and those last few paragraphs gave me heart palpitations – incredibly well done and jaw-dropping in its epic finale.

Despite this not being my favourite piece from this author, she’s taken on a challenge which not many others would be able to do and made it a very good novel at that. Purcell is still on an automatic buy for me, and I already have The Corset (published in-between The Silent Companions and Bone China) on my shelf ready and waiting.

Highly recommend.

I read this book as part of a read-along with the wonderful Tandem Collective. Find out more about them here.

Bone China, Laura Purcell, RRP £7.99 (paperback); Book Depository 

Pages: 430

Publisher: Raven Books

Genre: Gothic Fiction

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