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.GoodReads
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.
As Bridget Collins’ new book The Betrayals is released tomorrow, I thought that I would finally publish my review of The Binding which I wrote after reading the novel earlier in the year.
The Binding was gifted to me by my parents as my mum liked the cover of the hardback edition (yes, we all know the rule about book covers and judging) and, after a brief scan of the blurb, thought the novel would be something I would be interested in. As this was last year when I wasn’t back into the world of books, I probably would have missed this entirely if they hadn’t picked it up for me and I am thrilled that they did. I’m always a little worried when people buy books for me, especially ones that I have no knowledge of, but I had no reason to be worried of this one.
I had no idea what to expect from this novel but I know Collins still manage to surprise me several times throughout. I really liked the world that she had created and the premise was just so intriguing that I had to know what was going to happen. I have read novels on both memory loss and the idea that books are dangerous before, however intertwining those ideas was done wonderfully.
Emmett’s story is told in three parts, a structure which I think worked well for the story that Collins was telling. I liked that the reader gets to form their own relationships with the characters and questions on what’s really going on before the reveal in part two. This allows for more depth of the characters and just drew me to Emmett even more. I liked how he approached book binding differently from other, shadier, book binders. Seredith is a fantastic character who is so refreshing compared to other adults in the novel, I immediately loved her.
There’s one particular aspect of the novel, which I won’t spoil, that I really loved reading. It was an interesting surprise and gave the novel a whole other dimension. I’m pleased that, from what I’ve seen, there’s no direct mention of it as it’s as though you are discovering things as Emmett is. I thought that Collins captured the different family relationships well too it was fascinating to compare the world of the Farmers and the world of the Darnays.
Not only does this novel cover the fantasy of having your memories removed but it also, metaphorically, tackles some very modern day issues regarding women’s rights, revenge porn and relationships. For Collins’ first release in adult fiction, The Binding is a great novel and has left me excited to see what else she does next.