This hilarious, thrilling, bawdy romp gives us a new feminist literary heroine. This book takes you on Ursula’s unforgettable journey as she battles against what society has determined her life should be and what she knows in her soul is right for her.
Born on the night of a bad-luck comet, Ursula Flight is a precocious child who loves to learn. She dreams of being a playwright and puts on plays that she’s written with her friends in the woods. Her friendship with her hired maid and love of writing, learning and astrology are all at odds with what is acceptable for a young lady. But Ursula isn’t someone who cares about the rules. In fact she seems to relish breaking them.
Her world changes suddenly when at just 15 years old she is devastated to learn she must marry and give up her aspirations. Her pleading falls on deaf ears and she finds herself living with a husband in a loveless marriage where reading, stargazing and writing is frowned upon and forbidden for a woman. Ursula will never be content with a sober and tedious life, so when she comes upon the chance for excitement and the opportunity to finally be herself she seizes it. But this is not your traditional happy ever after book and that isn’t the end of Ursula’s story….
The Illumination of Ursula Flight is an astonishing and utterly brilliant book. It was a joy to read from start to finish. This book doesn’t follow the usual formula, like Ursula it follows its own path and breaks the rules. I fell completely in love with the witty, scathing, intelligent, rambunctious, ambitious, determined, forward-thinking, naive, and rebellious Ursula. She dances to the beat of her own drum and the little things like her disregard for social hierarchy all come together to paint a picture of a very vivid personality that you can’t forget.
Despite this being such a fun book to read overall, there were harrowing and difficult parts of the story. For instance, the scenes of marital rape and her heartbreak at being so alone and unloved were the hardest parts of this book for me. Seeing her live in such a soul crushing environment where her ebullient personality is completely stifled was heartbreaking, as was knowing that while this is a tale of fiction her story would be all too common at the time. I think it was important for the author to include these aspects of life in that era as it made Ursula’s tale one you could believe to be true and made her a more empathetic character as her strong willed personality is a little dislikeable at times.
The author had me engrossed in the 17th Century and in Ursula’s world as we watch her blossom from a willful child to obedient wife, and then finally to an independent woman living by her own rules. This period romp may be set hundreds of years ago but it's story is relevant to our modern times. A refreshing and delightful book, this is one every woman should read. Just be prepared to fall in love.