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Eighteenth-century England is the setting for Jamilla Gavin's sweeping saga of growing-up, struggle, tradition and corruption. From an acorn of an idea about a real-life good Samaritan of yesteryear, the author has crafted a satisfying, if occasionally painful, novel that spans the lives of several fortunate and unfortunate young people of the day.
The author has researched her backdrop very well, and the atmospheric sights and sounds of the time are both vivid and captivating. Readers will smell the dirty streets and close-living of urban London, revel in the summer splendour of the finest country houses and then flinch when the harshness of life for the poorest souls is revealed in uncomfortable detail.
For in the late 1700s your circumstance of birth meant everything. Toby and Aaron may both find themselves living at Captain Thomas Coram's Hospital for parentless children, but their histories are as far apart as they could possibly be. Toby has been rescued from a life of slave labour in a faraway country; Aaron is the illegitimate son of the heir to a large country estate. They are watched over by Mish--a simple soul who has been with them since their arrival. His devotion to them is absolute, but his motives are not altogether straightforward. Could this curious man really be Meshak, the son of a wicked child-killer who was hanged at the gallows for his crimes?
Coram Boy is a glorious web of changing fortunes and subtle intrigues. There is tragedy and corruption, hope and evil. Sometimes brutal and sometimes unceasingly bleak, the genre of historical fiction has rarely been this good. It's undoubtedly the kind of book that wins awards. (Age 12 and over) --John McLay --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In the great tradition of Dickens, British author Gavin mines English history, contrasting 18th-century city life with that of country estates, the wealthy classes with the poverty-stricken. Parallel plots develop as the author introduces charismatic Otis Gardiner, nicknamed the "Coram man" for his role in taking unwanted children off of the hands of rich and poor alike, and his simpleton son, 14-year-old Meshak. But Otis's nickname, taken from a nobler man than he (an actual historic figure, Captain Thomas Coram, who opened a hospital for abandoned children in 1741), is unearned; readers discover as the novel progresses just how he disposes of his charges. Meanwhile, another story emerges surrounding 13-year-old Alexander, on scholarship as a chorister at the Gloucester Cathedral, and heir to the Ashbrook estate. Making brilliant use of an omniscient narrator, the author moves easily in and out of various characters' points of view, most notably that of the emotionally unstable Meshak, whose moral compass points somewhere shy of North, but whose heart is in the right place. Alexander's and Meshak's romantic leanings toward the same young woman thicken the plot. Gavin paints low-life characters every bit as seductively as the high-society variety, and never shows her hand as the disparate threads of her narrative join together into a seamless whole. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
Set in the eighteenth century, Coram Boy is a story of love, crime, tragedy, heartbreak and miracles. Read morePublished on May 12 2002