Thursday, 28 February 2019

#BlogTour The Pumilio Child by Judy McInerney

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Pumilio Child by Judy McInerney today. It's a gem of a book. It's historical fiction, and yet literary fiction in equal measures.

About the Author
Judy McInerney has lived and worked in London for most of her professional life. Living in the Middle East, she managed to get lost in the desert, and to live through a military coup. After teaching in Abu Dhabi and starting her own business in Turkey, she returned to London and completed a creative writing course at Goldsmiths. Writing for food and travel guides has enabled her to justify travelling and eating out far too often

As a frequent traveller to China over the last thirty years she has seen the country undergo massive seismic changes, - from the times of Mao jackets and vast shoals of bicycles meandering along every hutong, to the present day, where Beijing is bigger than Belgium and has six million cars. She still travels in China each year to keep in close touch with family there. She also has a longstanding love affair with Italy, particularly the Renaissance cities of the north. Mantua is an undiscovered gem, both magical and macabre.

Buy The Pumilio Child

About the book
Ya Ling's cultured life of privilege in Beijing is cruelly cut short when she is abducted and shipped to the slave market in Venice. When Mantegna sees her chained to a post, his initial intention is to paint her exotic beauty, but he soon he desires her company for pleasures of a more private nature. Ya Ling has two ambitions, to ruin Mantegna, then to escape back to her family in China. However, Mantegna's latest commission, two huge frescos for the ruling Gonzaga family, make him invincible. Will Ya Ling survive? And can she succeed?

Ya Ling is a young, bright and talented woman, who lives a life of luxury in Beijing. Shortly after her betrothal she is brutally kidnapped, and in matter of months goes from an important wealthy woman to a mere concubine. Bought by a painter, who insists he wants to paint her beauty, but never actually paints her. His attitude towards women and his servants is a complete contradiction to the exquisite art he creates.

What the author captures beautifully is the way the worlds of East and West collide. Not only culturally, but also in regards to religion and faith. Ya Ling manages to maintain her dignity and inner strength, despite all her trials and tribulations. Her reverence for her gift and talent for healing is what keeps her going throughout the pain, humiliation and despair.

The Renaissance tends to be romanticised, especially on the big and small screen. The squalor, desperation and viciousness is swept under the billowing skirts of the wealthy. The more sordid tastes, habits and criminal enterprises of the well-coined become a footnote in history or just disappear completely.

I would like to have seen some notes or references to back up certain claims in regards to the Pumilio children. It's presented as a forgotten historical fact in the blurb. As for the life and times of the revered Renaissance painter Mantegna, again without references I would presume artistic licence has been taken.

As a purely fictional premise I really enjoyed the story of Ya Ling, and indeed I was sorry to say goodbye to a woman of such strength and determination. A young girl thrown into a strange world of violence and abuse, but determined throughout to regain her freedom and return home to her beloved family.

It's historical fiction, albeit perhaps more fiction than historical fact, and yet literary fiction in equal measures. McInerney projects the soothing, healing nature of the main character in an unforgettable manner. It's a compelling read.

Buy The Pumilio Child at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound Digital; pub date 20 Sept. 2018. Buy at Unbound, at Amazon com


  1. Hello Cheryl,
    I am so glad you found the Pumilio Child such a compelling read. Great news!
    Good wishes, Judy

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