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The first item on the Better World Books 2016 Reading Challenge is to read […]
Jennifer S. Uglow
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A thrilling portrait of Sara Losh, a forgotten architectural genius of the nineteenth century
In the village of Wreay, near Carlisle, stands the strangest and most magical church in Victorian England. Jenny Uglow's "The Pinecone" tells the story of its builder, Sarah Losh, strong-willed and passionate and unusual in every way. Born into an old Cumbrian family, heiress to an industrial fortune, Losh combined a zest for progress with a love of the past. In the church, her masterpiece, she let her imagination flower--there are carvings of ammonites, scarabs, and poppies; an arrow pierces the wall as if shot from a bow; a tortoise gargoyle launches itself into the air. And everywhere there are pinecones, her signature in stone. The church is a dramatic rendering of the power of myth and the great natural cycles of life, death, and rebirth. Losh's story is also that of her radical family--friends of Wordsworth and Coleridge; of the love between sisters, and the life of a village; of the struggle of weavers, the coming of railways, the findings of geology, and the fate of a young northern soldier in the Anglo-Afghan War. Above all, though, it is about the joy of making and the skill of unsung local craftsmen.
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