The Conviction of Cora Burns was published by No Exit on 21st March 2019 and is available for purchase through these links.
The Conviction of Cora Burns
To believe in her future, she must uncover her past…
Born in a gaol and raised in a workhouse, Cora Burns has always struggled to control the violence inside her.
Haunted by memories of a terrible crime, she seeks a new life working as a servant in the house of scientist Thomas Jerwood. Here, Cora befriends a young girl, Violet, who seems to be the subject of a living experiment. But is Jerwood also secretly studying Cora…?
My Review of The Conviction of Cora Burns
A prison photograph will lead to all manner of new elements in Cora’s life.
Wow! I absolutely adored The Conviction of Cora Burns. It is historical fiction at its most perfect. Carolyn Kirby transports the reader back to the Birmingham area of the 1880s without missing a beat or putting a foot wrong. I cannot begin to imagine the hours and hours if research that must have gone in to creating such a clear and accurate historical, scientific and sociological narrative. The tone is absolutely fitting for this twisting, absorbing and brilliant story.
The debate between nature and nurture and the gradual unfolding of Cora’s personality and identity held me spellbound. Her search for Alice Salt, her passionate nature and her ability to deal with the kind of adversity that was all too prevalent in the era make Cora one of the most intriguing and enthralling characters I’ve encountered in fiction. She is flawed, clever, spiteful, manipulative, honest and scheming so that I was fascinated by her. I loved the multiple meanings relating to her as a person in the title. She is convicted of a crime, she has the conviction that she will discover Alice, she has the conviction of her own decisions and the conviction that she can affect her future. Now I’ve finished reading The Conviction of Cora Burns I don’t want to leave her behind. I want to meet her in real life and speak with her further about her life and what happened beyond the book, so vivid and real a person she became to me.
The plot is a stunner! There are so many wonderfully wrought layers that I simply want to turn back to the beginning and read the book again. Being married to a scientist and photographer I found those aspects of the plot mesmerising, but even better were the philosophical and sociological threads of this superb historical novel. Carolyn Burns deserves all the plaudits and all the awards possible for a debut writer. The Conviction of Cora Burns is an absolute triumph and is a fascinating story I won’t forget for a very long time.
Put simply, this book has resonated with my reader soul completely. Carolyn Kirby has created a world I don’t want to leave. I think The Conviction of Cora Burns is an absolute triumph and I hope it is the huge success it deserves to be.
About Carolyn Kirby
Carolyn Kirby’s debut novel The Conviction of Cora Burns was begun on a writing course at Faber Academy and went on to win the Bluepencilagency Award for unpublished novels. Published in March 2019 by No Exit Press in the UK and Dzanc Books in North America, the novel has been getting praise from reviewers and journalists. The Sunday Mirror called it; ‘A great historical novel with bite,’ and it was chosen by The Times as an historical fiction book of the month.
Before being a full-time writer, Carolyn worked in social housing and as a teacher. She has two grown-up daughters and lives with her husband in Oxfordshire.