16 Aug 2020

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Book Review / The Binding by Bridget Collins

Books are dangerous things in Collins's alternate universe, a place vaguely reminiscent of 19th-century England. It's a world in which people visit book binders to rid themselves of painful or treacherous memories. Once their stories have been told and are bound between the pages of a book, the slate is wiped clean and their memories lose the power to hurt or haunt them. After having suffered some sort of mental collapse and no longer able to keep up with his farm chores, Emmett Farmer is sent to the workshop of one such binder to live and work as her apprentice. Leaving behind home and family, Emmett slowly regains his health while learning the binding trade. He is forbidden to enter the locked room where books are stored, so he spends many months marbling end pages, tooling leather book covers, and gilding edges. But his curiosity is piqued by the people who come and go from the inner sanctum, and the arrival of the lordly Lucian Darnay, with whom he senses a connection, changes everything. 

Published:     7th January 2019
Publisher:  The Borough Press
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned


This was one of those books that I didn't know anything about before picking it up.  Every now and then (but not in the current circumstances) I like to pop into my local bookstore and just browse.  I am not going to lie, it was mainly the cover that made me buy it!  I also like books about either famil secrets or secrets that someone needs to discover and this book ticked a lot of boxes for me.

We follow Emmett who is living with his family on a farm but had fallen ill and we see him at the start of this story recovering from that and wanting to get back on the farm.  It doesn't take long for his family to get summoned by the local Binder who says that Emmett is destined to be a Binder also.  Although he does not want to go, his family sends him to the Binder (an old lady in a cottage a little while away) to learn the trade, where people's memories can be bound in books and 'forgotten'.  

As things usually go, things aren't always as they seem and from one thing after another Emmett discovers that there is a book that has his name on it.  At some time in his past, a memory of his had been bound but he was not aware that he had ever done it.  What follows when we discover his secret, was my favourite part of the story.  To avoid spoilers, I am not going to tell you any more about that but it was just a beautiful story. 

This is one of those books that should be devoured slowly, enjoying each and every word, and not speed read.