Today I digress from the 1880’s and go beyond the reign of dear Victoria. Why? I hear you ask.
Because when a book is as captivating as this one it passes beyond the bounds of time and place. As the cover proclaims Wonderstruck is by Brian Selznick the author/illustrator of Hugo Cabret, which I enjoyed but it did not engage and intrigue as this one did.
And it is historical.
At least half of it is. Really it is! See…
This is two stories, interwoven until the threads merge to a heart satisfying climax.
Ben-1977 (I don’t call that historic), a young boy who has just lost his mother and never knew his father.
Rose-1927(1880’s Girl begrudgingly allows the 1920’s to be called historic) a young girl who uses movies as an escape from her reality.
Unfortunately that is about all I can tell you without giving away the best parts…
Let us say both Rose and Ben search for solutions to their unhappiness by running away from where life has taken them.
Rose’s Story begins in pictures while Ben’s begins with words. Actually his also begins with pictures then switches to words. Their stories alternate, masterfully woven and perfectly placed until the parallels in their journeys become almost indistinguishable.
Three Reasons for any 1880’s Girl or die hard Victorian to read this book
No. 1 Pictures
The Pictures! The pictures draw you in and really are worth a thousand words so make sure you take time over them. This is one of my favourites.
No. 2 wonder
It inspires wonder. And everyone needs a good dose of wonder in their life.
It is full of intriguing tidbits, and opens lines of inquiry that very much interest this 1880’s girl.
For example: Did you know that in 1869 a young Teddy Roosevelt opened the first museum in New York City. It was on the back porch of his parents house.
Have you heard of “Cabinets of Wonders”? These most definitely have to do with the 1800’s so it is not a total digression after all and you will see more about them soon. You have to read the book to open your eyes to all these wonders.
No. 3 Bibliography
Other than being a fantastic story well told this book has an excellent Bibliography (including where to find out more about Cabinets of Wonder). You may remember way back ages ago I mentioned in passing that historical fiction written in our day can be a good source for research if it contains a bibliography or links for further research. (If you can’t remember check it out here: 5 Ways to Use Novels as Research)
This is such a book! The acknowledgements section gives insights into the research process and how much goes into writing/illustrating such a book, very important for the amateur historian and writer of historical fiction.
Go on and read it! You won’t regret it.
It just might change the way you look at the world around you.