Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on The Conviction of Cora Burns
|No Exit Press|
21 March 2019
My thanks to the Katherine at the publishers and Anne at Random Things Tours for my invitation to the tour
Set in 1880s Birmingham, Carolyn Kirby’s stunning debut The Conviction of Cora Burns tells the story of Cora, a young woman born in a prison to a convicted criminal she never knew but from whom she fears she has inherited a violent nature. Perfect for fans of Sarah Schmidt, Anna Mazzola and Hannah Kent.
Cora was born in a prison. But is this where she belongs?
Right from the start of this story there's a real sense of history and as we are taken by the hand into Cora Burn's fractured life we soon start to understand that she is no ordinary gaol bird. Born into the dark restrictions of a Victorian prison system Cora very quickly learns that to survive with her spirit intact she must use her considerable wit in order to keep one step ahead of a social welfare system that threatens to engulf her.
When Cora is given the opportunity to move away from the only place she has known, she grabs the opportunity but is filled with a real sense of trepidation. Working as a Between Maid in the household of a scientist, Cora soon gets drawn into the very mysterious world of Mr Thomas Jerwood, a gentleman who has, it must be said, a very unusual interest in photography.
Moving seamlessly forwards and backwards over a twenty year period, the author creates a very believable Victorian world which is very dark at times, and yet, which poses an interesting conundrum about the question of nature over nurture. The story opens up the dark and often dangerous world of the Victorian reform system, whilst at the same shining a spotlight on the more unusual scientific practices which seemed to obsess some Victorians. Beautifully written with a real sense of history, Cora Burns, literally leaps of the pages, she is fierce and feisty, not always very likeable as she does some very odd things, but always, throughout the story, she has such a real sense of drive and ambition which is quite wonderful to observe.
To say too much about the way the story plays out would really spoil things, however, if you enjoy the brooding nature of a Gothic mystery combined with a tragic tale of lives ruined by circumstance, then I am sure that this story will appeal. Without doubt, The Conviction of Cora Burns is a stunning historical debut by an author who knows how to get right into the heart and soul of a story.
About the Author
Originally from the northeast of England, Carolyn Kirby studied history at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, before working in public housing and then as a teacher of English as a foreign language. Her novel The Conviction of Cora Burns, begun in 2013 during a writing course at Faber Academy in London, won the inaugural Bluepencilagency Award and was a runner-up for the DGA First Novel Prize and the Mslexia Novel Competition, Carolyn has two grown daughters and lives with her husband in rural Oxfordshire.
Twitter @novelcarolyn #TheConvictionOfCoraBurns