The Pinecone: The Story of Sarah Losh, Forgotten Romantic Heroine -- Antiquarian, Architect, and Visionary

Jenny Uglow, Author, Jennifer S Uglow, Author
Jenny Uglow. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-374-23287-0
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4668-2821-6
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-374-53434-9
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Biographer Uglow (The Lunar Men) redirects her attention and the same painstaking care she's brought to historical giants (including Charles II and William Hogarth) to the obscure figure of an Industrial Revolution heiress and Victorian architect, Sarah Losh. Born in England in 1786, Losh's life took in the era's most progressive politics, arts, and technology while she rarely strayed far from her family's mansion, Woodside, in the northern town of Wreay, Cumbria. Raised in the same area, Uglow first heard of Losh through her most lasting achievement, an idiosyncratic church that pre-empted the pre-Raphaelites and embraced wildly varied cultural influences while downplaying the expected trappings of Anglicanism and even Christianity. Uglow's research uncovered a restlessly inquisitive woman, unusually independent from her era's ideas, as well as fascinating supporting characters like Losh's father, John, whose wide-ranging scientific interests led to their industrial fortune, her radical reformer uncle James, and, in a cameo, family friend William Wordsworth. By the end of the book, mystery remains around the church's bizarre pinecone-centric symbolism and Losh herself, who burned many of her papers before her death in 1853. Her voice's relative absence should not, however, diminish anyone's enjoyment of Uglow's achievement in spinning a tale of Victorian church building into a captivating epic. Agent: Melanie Jackson. (Jan.)
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