This is an interesting work of fiction, which has a strong base in factual events, regarding the life of the painter Richard Crosse and his family, and John Stuart an early anti-slavery campaigner. The way that the story is presented, as a more fictional account means that without background knowledge of historical events of the 1780’s, you still enjoy and understand this book. The only criticism I have against this book however is that the main families and persons involved have very similar surnames: Crosse, Cosway, Cobley, So that you do feel like you have to pay quite heavy attention to who Oswald is referring to sometimes.
And this minor criticism isn’t always helped as Oswald jumps from time periods and points of view; so that you are not always immediately aware of whose ‘voice’ you are listening to. However I did enjoy the book and I enjoyed learning more about the historical background of this time as seen through the eyes of people who were on the fringe of society or like the Elder brother in the Crosse family, who is a Barrister caught between the changing society rules with the beginning of the anti-slavery campaign, and whilst working for mainly upper and middle class people is having a relationship with his childhood friend, who herself was the product of a slave beginnings.
The novel is a good solitary read, but I feel like it is a much better book club novel; it is a slightly shorter book, but there is a lot to discuss and further points to discover about this book. It will definitely create talking points, as the story gradually unfolds with a slight sense of mystery, as Oswald moves through characters timelines, with childhood, young adult and elder adult memories being recorded of the main characters.