Jenny Uglow
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2013, English
Nonfiction, Architecture
9.1 x 6 x 1.4 inches, hardcover, 352 pages
ISBN: 9780374232870
Suggested Retail Price: $28.00

Cover of The Pinecone: The Story of Sarah Losh, Forgotten Romantic Heroine--Antiquarian, Architect, and Visionary, 2013 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

From the Publisher. In the village of Wreay, near Carlisle, stands the strangest and most magical Victorian church in England. This vivid, original book tells the story of its builder, Sarah Losh, strong-willed, passionate, and unusual in every way.

Sarah Losh is a lost Romantic genius—an antiquarian, an architect, and a visionary. Born into an old Cumbrian family, heiress to an industrial fortune, Losh combined a zest for progress with a love of the past. In the church, her masterpiece, she let her imagination flower—there are carvings of ammonites, scarabs, and poppies; an arrow pierces the wall as if shot from a bow; a tortoise-gargoyle launches itself into the air. And everywhere there are pinecones in stone. The church is a dramatic rendering of the power of myth and the great natural cycles of life, death, and rebirth.

Losh’s story is also that of her radical family, friends of Wordsworth and Coleridge; of the love between sisters and the life of a village; of the struggles of the weavers, the coming of the railways, the findings of geology, and the fate of a young northern soldier in the First Afghan War.

Above all, it is about the joy of making and the skill of unsung local craftsmen. Intimate, engrossing, and moving, The Pinecone, by Jenny Uglow, the Prize-winning author of The Lunar Men, brings to life an extraordinary woman, a region, and an age.

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Mark Lamster

The Pinecone tells the story of an heiress from a corner of the verdant English countryside who devotes herself to building a small parish church of considerable charm and idiosyncracy. Uglow tells the story with such evident affection for her subject that she dispels any doubts the reader might have as to the actual level of genius involved, and opens a window into a time and space that seems at once remote and familiar.

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