By Hannah Tucker
March 16, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Burning Bright

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As she did in her 2000 best-seller Girl With a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier masterfully evokes a sense of working-class life during a specific historical period. This time, the book is Burning Bright, and the scene is French Revolution-era London, where a fictional country family, the Kel- laways, move after one of their children dies. A charmingly awkward romance between naive Jem Kellaway and worldly local girl Maggie feels natural, while a story line about the poet William Blake, a neighbor of the Kellaways who befriends the sweethearts, is unconvincing. Blake is never fully integrated into the story, and his presence disrupts, rather than guides, Chevalier’s narrative. B

Burning Bright

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