The Muse of Fire by Carol M. Cram
Publication Date: December 26, 2017
eBook; Kindle Press
Paperback; New Arcadia Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction
Abandoned at birth, the grandly christened Edward Plantagenet rises from London’s Foundling Hospital to take charge back stage at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, only to be blind-sided when he rescues Grace—a young woman escaping an abusive father.
Grace finds an outlet for her passions as a Shakespearean actress, becoming ensnared by intrigues and setbacks that mar the pathway to stardom she craves.
Set against the tumultuous backdrop of the Old Price Riots of 1809, Grace and Ned find common purpose in a quest that threatens to tear both their worlds apart.
“Meticulously researched and with an atmosphere so rich that one can almost smell the face powder, The Muse of Fire is another triumph for Carol M. Cram. The irresistible story at its heart is impeccably woven into the tapestry of British theatrical history with such precision that Grace and Ned might have stepped from the pages of the Georgian gossip sheets and straight into fiction. The Muse of Fire will linger long after reading. It’s not to be missed!” – Catherine Curzon, author of Queens of Georgian Britain, Life in the Georgian Court, and Kings of Georgian Britain
Grace bolts from her London home late one night after her father comes home drunk and hits her. Still blaming Grace for her mother's death, Grace has become the unwilling scapegoat. However, the streets of 1800's London are not a friendly place for a lady at night. Grace is found by Ned, a stage manager at the nearby Theatre Royale. Ned graciously helps Grace recover over the next few days. During their stay together, Grace tells Ned of her interest in the theatre and how she and her mother would recite lines. Ned allows Grace to sit backstage and watch a performance before she must leave and face her father once more. Before Grace goes, an opportunity arises for Grace to be in the Chorus of a show. Grace falls in love with the theatre and finds the strength to part from her father's household. Upon hearing the news, Grace's father writes her out of his will. Soon, with help from Ned, Grace finds her place among the acting troupe. Although, just as Grace begins to rise, the theatre burns down and when it is rebuilt and hike in prices results in a riot at theatre every night. As Grace and Ned deal with the Old Price riots, they also uncover a mystery dealing with Grace's mother and Aunt.
The Muse of Fire transported me directly to London's Theatre scene in the early 1800's. I was taken with the historical detail, I had never heard of the Old Price Riots and were surprised to learn that they were very real and just as comprehensive as described. I also enjoyed that some of the actors, actresses and directors were also taken from history. The thoroughness in describing how backstage operations at the theatre worked was entertaining as well, from costuming to props, fly rigs and makeup, to orchestras and prompters the liveliness and excitement of live theatre is revealed. Grace and Ned's characters were complete and well thought out. Both had interesting histories and good backbone. From the beginning I wondered what their relationship to one another would be and I was pleased to see how they ended up. I loved Grace's direct nature and willingness to endure. Ned is exceedingly kind and able to use his wit to his advantage. The mystery and drama created by Grace's Aunt, Father and cousin Percival was exciting and unexpected, creating just as much drama as the stage. Overall, another rich and exhilarating historical fiction from Carol M. Cram.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Carol M. Cram is the author of A Woman of Note (Lake Union Publishing, 2015) and The Towers of Tuscany (Lake Union Publishing 2014). In addition to writing fiction, Carol has enjoyed a great career as an educator, teaching at Capilano University in North Vancouver for over twenty years and authoring forty-plus bestselling textbooks on business communications and software applications for Cengage Learning. She holds an MA in Drama from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Carol is currently focusing as much of her attention as she can spare between walks in the woods on writing historical novels with an arts twist and sharing her Nia practice as a Nia teacher. She and her husband, painter Gregg Simpson, share a life on beautiful Bowen Island near Vancouver, Canada.