Title- Bodies of Light
Author- Sarah Moss
Genre- Historical fiction, literary fiction
Length- 309 pages
Synopsis (Goodreads)- Bodies of Light is a deeply poignant tale of a psychologically tumultuous nineteenth century upbringing set in the atmospheric world of Pre-Raphaelitism and the early suffrage movement. Ally, is intelligent, studious and engaged in an eternal – and losing – battle to gain her mother’s approval and affection. Her mother, Elizabeth, is a religious zealot, keener on feeding the poor and saving prostitutes than on embracing the challenges of motherhood. Even when Ally wins a scholarship and is accepted as one of the first female students to read medicine in London, it still doesn’t seem good enough.
Review- I received this from my book subscription service The Willoughby Book Club as my May book.
I loved this book, really loved it, so much in fact that I have already looked up the author on Amazon and either bought or added all of her other books to my wish list.
The book covers more than twenty years of time. It starts when the main character’s parents have just got married and ends when she is a young adult herself. Early on, time skips forward quite a bit, one minute Ally (the main character) is a newborn, the next she’s nine years old. Despite this it is still easy to follow what is going on as it is so well done.
The characters are all very well developed, especially for such a short book, and the writing is excellent. I don’t tend to have particularly strong feelings about characters in most books but this book is an exception to that which I think speaks to the strength of the writing. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the history but the story is excellent, well thought out, and includes a good amount of detail.
A lot of this book is actually really sad and it shows just how much damage parents can do to their children. It does however also show that it is possible to be successful despite that damage and that even if you can’t rely on your parents, there are others there to help. As a doctor I actually find the medicine quite upsetting too, female doctors are still treated so much worse than male doctors. Unlike in the 19th century though, a lot of people now don’t seem to realise the extent of the differences in treatment, or even that there are differences.
Overall I really enjoyed this book, I can’t really find any faults with it. I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys historical fiction.