In 1774, Josiah Wedgwood, master craftsman possessed with a burning scientific vision, embarks upon the thousand-piece Frog Service for Catherine the Great. Josiah's nephew Tom journeys to America to buy clay from the Cherokee for this exquisite china. Tom is caught up in the American rebellion, and falls for a Cherokee woman who will come to play a crucial role in Josiah's late, great creation: the Portland Vase. As the family fortune is made, and Josiah's entrepreneurial brilliance creates an empire that will endure for generations, it is his daughter Sukey, future mother of Charles Darwin, who bears clear-eyed witness.
A novel of epic scope, rich in warmth, intellect and humanity, The Potter's Hand explores the lives and loves of one of Britain's greatest families, whose travails are both ordinary - births, deaths, marriages, opium addiction, depression - and utterly extraordinary.
A N Wilson is not my favourite author and there are passages of this book which irritate as he declares his particular prejudices. However please forgive as he has written a powerful, intriguing and likely tale about one of the great men of Staffordshire, Josiah Wedgwood. Wilson has clearly researched the family and its immediate friends and acquaintances. This work shines through and he wears this knowledge lightly to inform his readers.
Having read this novel, beautifully read by John Teller, I might try another...
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
What an interesting man Wedgewood was. He was a scientist and an artist, and man before his time - I had no previous interest in him / his dynasty at all, but am completely won over by just how fascinating he was. Some of the stories and characters are manipulated to allow for the book to work, but the author clearly explains at the end where liberties were taken with the truth. And it's so insightful about the social history and world history which is going on alongside the inner lives of the characters, that I feel I was educated by stealth. I now find myself suddenly rather interested in the American Civil War... and I visited the Wedgewood museum to see for myself some of the innovations he was involved in.
A really worthwhile (but not worthy) listen.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed this from a historical perspective, but the plot rambled a bit and lost its way in parts. So if you are looking for a well constructed novel, maybe give this a miss unless the rich historical context is going to be compensation enough.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
this book would have been a lot better if it had been done in chronological order as the author jumped from present to future then back in the past, confusing in some cases.
in the American part it reminded me of dances with wolves.
I thought the book would have given more details of Josiah's life and family but seemed to me to concentrate more on Thomas bireley. Josiah's nephew,
at the end the author did state who were the fictional characters and the main one seemed more true to life than the rest.
I thought john telfer's performance of the book was very good that why I have it 5 stars.
Although it took a little while to get into this book and get used to the 'Old English' language, it was well worth staying with it as the story progressed, spanning the years and the miles taking it from England to America. I was interested to hear that there was a true historical basis to the story. The only thing I was disappointed with was the end, which seemed very contrived to make sure everyone had a happy ending!
The ambition of Josiah Wedgewood founder of the world famous pottery put England on the map as a trading nation .At a time when travel was fraught and the raw commodities of his craft on foreign shores his china graced palaces . A well narrated listen for history buffs.