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Coram Boy [Paperback]

Jamila Gavin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 15.00 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

May 4 2004
A tale of tradition, corruption, strife and growing-up from award-winning author Jamila Gavin. Otis takes babies and money off desperate mothers, promising to deliver them to the Coram Foundling Hospital in London. Instead, he murders them and buries them by the roadside, to the helpless horror of his mentally ill son, Mish. When Melissa, beloved of Alexander Ashbrook and daughter of his governess becomes pregnant by him, her mother arranges for the Otis to take the child, telling Melissa it was stillborn. Alexander, not knowing Melissa's condition, has fled his home for a career in music. But Mish manages to save Melissa's baby, Aaron, and he grows up with Toby, the son of an African slave, inseparable friends. Toby is a plaything at the house of rich Mr Gaddarn, who is, in fact, Otis. When Mish sees Aaron and Alexander together, and realises the family link, he takes Aaron and Toby to Otis, who rejects them. A way must be found to rescue them, but a great friend must die before the family can be reunited. A vivid, challenging and at times harrowing story from the author of the Surya Trilogy, Coram Boy is Jamila Gavin at her very best. 'Brilliant, moving and ultimately compelling' - Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Judging Panel

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From Amazon

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 alternate Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

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.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Coram Boy May 12 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Set in the eighteenth century, Coram Boy is a story of love, crime, tragedy, heartbreak and miracles. It is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read and one of my all time favourites. I am always reading it aloud, just because the words are so nice. The characters are very clear and made to love or hate. The author shows such depth of knowledge and expresses so much emotion! It is a complex, exciting novel and the end will make you cry! I love it to bits. I'm sure you will to.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Coram Boy March 3 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Otis Gardiner is a peddler in London who persuades young women to pay him for bringing their babies to the famous Coram Hospital, a place where unwanted children can receive proper education and have a successful future. However, after Otis got paid, he would kill these babies and later on blackmail the women who entrusted him with their babies for more money. His son, Meshak, saved a baby that he was about to kill and escaped to the Coram Hospital and stayed there for the next eight years. The baby was named Aaron Dangersfield and was very talented in music, like his father, Alexander Ashbrook. Alexander discovered that Aaron is actually his son in a meeting with his wife and sister, but Aaron was already being sent on a ship to America to be sold as a slave. Someone rescued Aaron from the ship shortly after it parted. Finally, Alexander reconciled with his long lost son.
I think this is an unbelievably awesome book. It involved many characters that each has their own small story in this book. For example, Aaron Dangersfield¡s foster father is a simpleton, and he often dreamed of living with the kind angles in the chapels away from his cruel father. Aaron¡s real father was kicked out of his family for living a life as a musician instead of learning how to take care and prosper from his father¡s estates. Furthermore Aaron¡s best friend, Toby, is an African, and he was being treated like a rare, dark-skin plaything more than a human. All of these small stories add up to be what Aaron has to experience or discover, which is what makes Coram Boy extra interesting.
My favorite part of this book is the epilogue. In the epilogue, Meshak was finally able to be with his imaginary angels after all the suffering he went through.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Coram Boy Feb. 13 2002
Format:Hardcover
Otis Gardiner is a peddler in London who persuades young women to pay him for bringing their babies to the famous Coram Hospital, a place where unwanted children can receive proper education and have a successful future. However, after Otis got paid, he would kill these babies and later on blackmail the women who entrusted him with their babies for more money. His son, Meshak, saved a baby that he was about to kill and escaped to the Coram Hospital and stayed there for the next eight years. The baby was named Aaron Dangersfield and was very talented in music, like his father, Alexander Ashbrook. Alexander discovered that Aaron is actually his son in a meeting with his wife and sister, but Aaron was already being sent on a ship to America to be sold as a slave. Someone rescued Aaron from the ship shortly after it parted. Finally, Alexander reconciled with his long lost son.
I think this is an unbelievably awesome book. It involved many characters that each has their own small story in this book. For example, Aaron Dangersfield¡s foster father is a simpleton, and he often dreamed of living with the kind angles in the chapels away from his cruel father. Aaron¡s real father was kicked out of his family for living a life as a musician instead of learning how to take care and prosper from his father¡s estates. Furthermore Aaron¡s best friend, Toby, is an African, and he was being treated like a rare, dark-skin plaything more than a human. All of these small stories add up to be what Aaron has to experience or discover, which is what makes Coram Boy extra interesting.
My favorite part of this book is the epilogue. In the epilogue, Meshak was finally able to be with his imaginary angels after all the suffering he went through.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Sept. 27 2001
By Alaria
Format:Hardcover
It is 1741; Otis Gardner is the Coram Man, a cruel, sadistic trader who makes his living from the disposal of unwanted infants and by selling older children into slavery. Together with his half-wit son Meshak, he travels from Gloucester to London, collecting children under false promises of delivering them to the famous hospice founded by Thomas Coram.
Alexander Ashbrook, disinherited heir to a large estate, is unaware of the existence of his illegitimate son Aaron, a child given away in infancy and brought up in the Coram hospice to avoid scandal. Aaron, also oblivious to his father's identity, befriends Toby, a young boy saved from an African slave ship, and the childlike Mish who brought him to the orphanage all those years ago.
Set in eighteenth century Britain, "Coram Boy" is an epic tale of good and evil and the relationships between a father and a son. The plot is complicated yet compelling enough to make this novel impossible to put down. Jamila Gavin weaves a powerful story that explores the darker side of life in the 1700s and which combines romance, history, tragedy and hope. Beautifully written and filled with a cast of colourful and memorable characters to bring this eighteenth century world to life, Coram Boy is both a unique and special book. Although difficult to get into, this is ultimately an extremely rewarding read that has a wide appeal, although some readers may find the content of infanticide disturbing. Overall, this is definitely a five star book, and I would highly recommend it to both teens and adults .
~Jenna~
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