Title: The Binding
Writer: Bridget Collins
Publishing House: The Borough Press
Date of Publication: January 10th 2019
Rating: 4 stars
‘’I laid my hand over the bruises on my arm, fitting my fingers into the marks. The wind murmured in the thatch and drove another gust of rain against the window-pane, but the house was thick-walled, solid, as old as rock. Binder’s fever, not madness or weakness.’’
Emmett is suffering from a strange affliction. His parents are of little help, engrossed in how to find a wealthy husband for his sister, absorbed by their wish for money without even trying. When a strange call arrives, Emmett has to answer. And so it happens and his path is crossed with a fascinating woman, a binder who specializes in unique books. Emmett has to fight. He has to understand his vocation, he has to learn how to stand up to the ones who want to use him as a tool, against a world that doesn’t understand.
What if we could erase every negative memory from our minds? What if we could capture all those incidents that made our lives a struggle into a book, bind them and store them away, out of sight and out of mind? What if this gift fell into the wrong hands? What if vile men forced their victims to have their memories erased so that they could come clean and unpunished?
Bridget Collins has written one of the most interesting novels you’ll ever read and has presented the readers with a number of complex moral questions. Everyone’s mind is full of moments that we wish had never happened. They have hurt us, they still hurt and will go on hurting us. We all have wished for them to disappear and leave us be. However, aren’t these exact moments a part of who we are? They have shaped our course, our principles, our future choices. That embarrassing moment has taught us to be wiser, that pain, seemingly unbearable, has made us stronger, that failure has made us more cautious and determined. And how do we erase the memory of someone who entered our lives and vanished, along with all the moments we spent together?
Don’t you just love it when a book provokes endless discussions with yourself and with others? Collins depicts the dilemmas within an alternative 19th century England, through the eyes of a young man who tries to untangle the knots in his difficult life. Despised and scorned because of his low social status, recognized by a wise old woman for his gift and courage, burdened with an emotional load that has dire consequences. Collins creates a very approachable character in the face of Emmett. His insecurities and doubts, the naive choices he may make are a token of the human disposition, a youth standing on a crossroads. Even though he likes to think he is unimportant, he is courageous and honest. The evil lies with the people who surround him, the ones who oppress and terrify him. They are the problem.
I had high hopes for this beautiful book and I wasn’t disappointed. The only issues I faced had to do with the romance plotline which was tiresome and not to my personal taste but this is my approach to every romance included within a story so it was to be expected. The dialogue was lacking in quality when compared to the prose and all the hullabaloo concerning Alta and everyone’s love troubles left me cold.
Collins created a world where moral dilemmas clash with social norms, where gifted people are used to the benefit of the aristocracy, where books can be a salvation or a tyranny. A perfect novel for dark autumn nights…
”An owl called, distant and then closer; something scattled in the corner of the yard. I imagined the owl circling, silent now, waiting for the glint of tiny eyes, the twitch of a tail. A death like that you wouldn’t hear it coming.”