The Pinecone by Jenny Uglow
The Story of Sarah Losh, Forgotten Romantic Heroine--Antiquarian, Architect, and Visionary

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...Uglow's book is an exuberant match for the beautiful, ornate and movingly personal nature of Losh's extraordinary church.
-Guardian

Synopsis

In the village of Wreay, near Carlisle, stands the strangest and most magical Victorian church in England. This vivid, original book tells the story of its builder, Sarah Losh, strong-willed, passionate, and unusual in every way.

Sarah Losh is a lost Romantic genius—an antiquarian, an architect, and a visionary. Born into an old Cumbrian family, heiress to an industrial fortune, Losh combined a zest for progress with a love of the past. In the church, her masterpiece, she let her imagination flower—there are carvings of ammonites, scarabs, and poppies; an arrow pierces the wall as if shot from a bow; a tortoise-gargoyle launches itself into the air. And everywhere there are pinecones in stone. The church is a dramatic rendering of the power of myth and the great natural cycles of life, death, and rebirth.

Losh's story is also that of her radical family, friends of Wordsworth and Coleridge; of the love between sisters and the life of a village; of the struggles of the weavers, the coming of the railways, the findings of geology, and the fate of a young northern soldier in the First Afghan War. Above all, it is about the joy of making and the skill of unsung local craftsmen. Intimate, engrossing, and moving, The Pinecone, by Jenny Uglow, the Prize-winning author of The Lunar Men, brings to life an extraordinary woman, a region, and an age.

 

About Jenny Uglow

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Jenny Uglow’s books include prizewinning biographies of Elizabeth Gaskell and William Hogarth. The Lunar Men, published in 2002, was described by Richard Holmes as “an extraordinarily gripping account,” while Nature’s Engraver won the National Arts Writers Award for 2007. A Gambling Man was short-listed for the 2010 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. Uglow grew up in Cumbria and now lives in Canterbury, England.
 
Published January 15, 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 352 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography, Professional & Technical, History, Travel, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Action & Adventure. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Pinecone
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Megan Marshall on Feb 01 2013

In religion and in biography, some mysteries are best left unplumbed, and Uglow is wise to cut her speculation short. Her narrative...stands as an elegant and instructive rendering of a life, a place and a time.

Read Full Review of The Pinecone: The Story of Sa... | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Rachel Hewitt on Aug 31 2012

...Uglow's book is an exuberant match for the beautiful, ornate and movingly personal nature of Losh's extraordinary church.

Read Full Review of The Pinecone: The Story of Sa... | See more reviews from Guardian

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