Happy Book Birthday to The White Phoenix. This is Catherine Randall’s debut novel, a historical middle grade story.
About the Book
London, 1666. After the sudden death of her father, thirteen-year-old Lizzie Hopper and her mother must take over THE WHITE PHOENIX – the family bookshop in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral. But England is at war with France and dire prophecies abound. As rumours of invasion and plague spread, Lizzie battles prejudice, blackmail and mob violence to protect the bookshop she loves. When the Great Fire of London breaks out, Lizzie must rescue more than just the bookshop. Can she now save the friend she wasn’t supposed to have? CAN THE WHITE PHOENIX RISE FROM THE ASHES?
About the Author
Catherine Randall was brought up in Shropshire but has lived in London since graduating from St Catherine’s College, Oxford with a degree in Modern History. Catherine worked as an editor in book publishing before taking a break to bring up her family. She took a Master’s in Children’s Literature at the University of Roehampton, writing a novella for teens as part of her dissertation. Now living in southwest London, she is known in her local area as the writer of two history plays (The Teddington Review and Letters from the Front) performed in 2017 and 2018. As a result of her research for The White Phoenix, Catherine takes workshops about the Great Fire of London into primary schools. She is passionate about encouraging reading and volunteers with the charity Prisoners’ Reading Groups. She is currently working on her second novel.
What I Thought
If you know anything about me you will know that I love books about books and book lovers so when I realised The White Phoenix was a story about a bookshop I was immediately sold.
Our protagonist Lizzie and her mother take over the family bookshop – The White Phoenix and they have to fend off prejudice, sinister suitors, plague and The Great Fire of London!
This book transported me to my childhood and it gave me the same feeling I had reading or watching stories like The Railway Children, The Sound of Music, Pollyanna, Heidi, Little Women, and the early scenes in Great Expectations. There is a strong cast of characters from headstrong Lizzie to *makes me shudder* Mr Pedley.
I loved the detail included about the book binding process and oddly enough I know an artist – who also uses Phoenix in their shop name – who binds/rebinds books. The love that this process shows for the books makes me feel warm inside and I’m certainly glad that publishers and sellers are making more effort with their books bindings. Of course the front cover of The White Phoenix has to include some gold foiling to make it extra special.
There is human drama a plenty that starts for poor Lizzie straight away and there are ominous threats both seemingly far away and much closer to home. The constant mentions of the Plague feel very apt with our current situation. St Paul’s is there too, looming and an omen if you know anything about 1666.
So will Lizzie and the books survive the great fire? You will have to read to find out.
I want to know which book would you save in a fire? You can choose only one.
I was gifted a copy via Kaleidoscopic Tours for the purposes of an honest review.