Thursday 4 April 2019

#BlogTour The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby. It's historical crime fiction, it's a mystery and it's also a story about whether we are driven by our genetic code and instincts or by what we experience in our lifetime.

About the Author
Originally from Sunderland, Carolyn Kirby studied history at St Hilda’s College, Oxford before working for social housing and then as a teacher of English as a foreign language.

Her novel The Conviction of Cora Burns was begun in 2013 on a writing course at Faber Academy in London. The novel has achieved success in several competitions including as finalist in the 2017 Mslexia Novel Competition and as winner of the inaugural Bluepencilagency Award. Carolyn has two grown-up daughters and lives with her husband in rural Oxfordshire.

Follow @novelcarolyn @noexitpress on Twitter, Buy The Conviction of Cora Burns

About the book
With the power and intrigue of Jessie Burton's The Silent Companions and Sarah Schmidt’s See What I Have Done, Carolyn Kirby’s stunning debut takes the reader on a heart-breaking journey through Victorian Birmingham and questions where we first learn violence: from our scars or from our hearts.

Birmingham 1885
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…?

This is an intriguing read, but it will keep the grey cells busy as you track each thread. The author has built the plot in a way that asks the reader to backtrack and follow the main character through many doors, years and supposedly unimportant connections. Cora takes us on a trip to learn the truth about herself and her life.

Born to a prisoner and raised as an orphan in a workhouse, Cora has always been on the rough and more unlucky side of life. The only happy memories are the ones she made with her fellow workhouse friend Alice. Together they bonded over their loneliness, their tears and fears, and the instinct to cause trouble and harm.

When Cora is released she is determined to find Alice and reconnect, and perhaps fill in the blanks about something awful Alice did when they were younger. Instead her journey takes her on a trip that confronts her with her own past and how she became the Cora Burns we learn to like, but perhaps mistrust.

Aside from the tragedy of how the mentally ill, especially women, were treated during the 19th century this is also about how society treated women and children in general. At the very core of the premise however is the debate about nature vs nurture in regards to a propensity for violence, and the type that leads to violent crimes and homicides.

Scientists have been able to find a high correlation between certain genes and violent acts. The question is whether the genetic coding in combination with an exposure to neglect, abuse, trauma and maltreatment as a child, is a definitive recipe for a violent offender. In this story the question is whether the evil or propensity to commit violent acts is passed down genetically.

The doctors and scientists used lunatic asylums as a place to try out a variety of inhumane methods to cure patients, so it's not unusual for David Farley, the Assistant Medical Officer in Birmingham Asylum, to be using a relatively new method to help patients. He is using, or trying to use, hypnotism to prove his theory that there is a correlation between mental health and the economic status of a patient. In a way his research helps to connect the dots in this story.

It's historical crime fiction, it's a mystery and it's also a story about whether we are driven by our genetic code and instincts or by what we experience in our lifetime. I think the truth is somewhere between the two.

Buy The Conviction of Cora Burns at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: No Exit Press; pub date 21 Mar. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

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