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Ali Bacon

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Published April 2018.

‘He had Edinburgh at his feet, but who would be by his side?’

In 1843, Edinburgh artist, David Octavius Hill meets Robert Adamson from St Andrews and an iconic partnership is born. Hill is already a popular and charismatic figure in the art world. Adamson is a technical genius in the new science of photography. The magic they create with their camera soon makes them the darlings of society.  

In the Blink of an Eye is a re-imagining of Hill’s life in the words of those who met him and sat for him. Tender, tragic and sometimes humorous, these voices come together in a story of art and science, love and loss, friendship and photography

“Poignant and charged with hope”
 – Vanessa Gebbie, author and judge of Evesham Festival Short Story Prize 2017 (Chapter 3, The Bird of Wax)

“That moment of dawning self-consciousness, so delicately rendered, yet so resonant … just knocked my socks off”
 – Nick Bellorini, photography publisher and judge of Magic Oxygen Prize 2017 (Chapter 6, Silver Harvest)

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About this book

In this moving and original approach to biographical fiction, Ali Bacon uncovers the human stories behind the Hill and Adamson partnership, focusing on the women whose narratives are woven into his: a young girl torn between her dreams and her family expectations; an architect’s wife imprisoned in a fairy-tale castle; a fisherwoman whose life changes in the blink of the camera’s eye.  Hill emerges as a man of charm and integrity, conscientious and devout but also flirtatious. When tested by the ultimate personal tragedy, he is saved by the redeeming power of love. 

About the author

After a degree in Classics from St Andrews University, Ali Bacon worked briefly in Oxford’s Bodleian Library where she stumbled on and saved a cache of famous Victorian photographs. So began a life-long interest in early photography. After a career as an academic librarian, her first novel, Kettle of Fish, was published in 2012 by Thornberry. In the Blink of an Eye marries her interests in fiction and photography. Ali now lives in Bristol where she writes and performs her work at live events.

ISBN: 978-0-9935997
Published: April 2018

Additional information

Book Type

E-Book, Paperback

Reviews

“This is a wonderful book: well researched, beautifully written, original in execution and often deeply moving. I found it as magical and profound as the work of the people who inspired it.”
– Catherine Czerkawska, author of The Jewel

“Poignant and charged with hope”
 – Vanessa Gebbie, author and judge of Evesham Festival Short Story Prize 2017 (Chapter 3, The Bird of Wax)

“That moment of dawning self-consciousness, so delicately rendered, yet so resonant … just knocked my socks off”
 – Nick Bellorini, photography publisher and judge of Magic Oxygen Prize 2017 (Chapter 6, Silver Harvest)

“Through these women’s feelings of loss and love and their observation of Hill’s crippling sorrow at one loss after another, the novel brings texture and colour to a story that had only been known in black and white. These narrators testify to the dedication Hill & Adamson had for a dream and the dedication they had to their friends and family. ”
– Roger Watson. World authority on the early history of photography, Curator of the Fox Talbot Museum at Lacock Abbey and an occasional lecturer at DeMontfort University in Leicester.

“Written with insight and passion. I couldn’t put it down.”
– Rob Douglas, 21st Century Calotypist papershadowsandlight.com

“Ali Bacon’s individual stories build, chapter by chapter, an absorbing fictionalised overview of a point in history where religion, art and science coincide. The voice – or voices – perfectly evokes both time and place, the style reminiscent of Victorian novels (although without the boring bits) and with a smattering of dialect to delight (who couldn’t love the word hirple?) without interrupting the reading process.”
– Anne Goodwin, Writer.
Read the full review here.

“It is both history and biography, imagination and reality, fact and fancy. The writing playfully and self-consciously alludes to its status as both truth and fiction.”
– The Contemporary Small Press
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“I loved the characters and their different voices; the Scottish dialect, never forced; the humour and tragedy of Victorian life; the scholarly treatment of a fascinating subject and the light touch. If you like novels by Tracy Chevalier and Helen Dunmore, you will love this. A pleasure to read.”
– Amazon reader, Dodie.

“There is an authenticity in the way the story is allowed to unfold, and which gradually builds to form a fascinating snapshot of Edinburgh in the mid-1840s. I loved the little snippets of Scottish dialect which are thrown like gems into the story​.”
Read the full review here: