The Conjurer's Bird is
a beautiful story in the spirit of Possession that is as exciting as The
Club Dumas, inspired by one of the great puzzles of natural history: that of
the Mysterious Bird of Ulieta. Seen only once, in 1774, by Captain Cook's second
expedition to the South Seas, a single specimen was captured, preserved, and
brought back to England. The bird was given to famed naturalist Joseph Banks,
who displayed it proudly in his collection until its sudden, unexplained
Two hundred years later, naturalists continue to wonder if the world will ever get another glimpse of the elusive bird. Were it not for a colored drawing done by the ship's artist, there would be nothing to say that the bird had ever existed.
The Conjurer's Bird is a gripping literary mystery and passionate love story that tackles the intrigue surrounding the celebrated Banks, his secret affair with an enigmatic woman known only as "Miss B," and the legendary bird that becomes a touchstone for their love.
Seamlessly spanning two time periods, The Conjurer's Bird is at once the story of this romance and of a present-day conservationist named Fitz, who is drawn into a thrilling and near-impossible race to find the elusive bird's only known remains.
Thursday Night at the Taxidermist's
That Thursday evening I was working late, removing the skull of a dead owl. It
was December outside, but at my workbench the heat from the lamp was making my
fingers sweat. I was at the hardest part of the whole operation, the bit where
you have to ease the skull very gently down the neck without damaging the skin,
and as I began to work it loose, I found my eyes were blinking with the
concentration. But I could sense it was working, that I was doing it well, and
when I heard the telephone grumbling at the back of the shop I decided to let it
ring. It was too late for a summons to the pub and even though I'd taken down
the sign and removed myself from the Yellow Pages, the five-pint pranksters
("I've got this chicken that needs stuffing . . .") would still
occasionally get through. This was their time to call but tonight I wasn't in
the mood. Until I remembered Katya and changed my mind.
Katya was the ...
The 'mysterious bird of Ulieta' refers to a rare bird that was caught during Captain Cook's second voyage to the South Pacific in 1774. It ended up in the collection of famed naturalist Joseph Banks (who accompanied Cook on his first voyage) and, according to this book, was then given by Banks to his mistress, Mary Burnett a naturalist and gifted botanical artist (who the book jacket bills as the enigmatic "Miss B")...
If you enjoy intelligent historical mysteries you should take a close look at The Conjurer's Bird.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (682 words).
Ulieta? The island of Ulieta,
or Ulietea, is too small to
appear in our atlas but if you
were to travel roughly
North-West of Tahiti you'd
likely come across it. We
"Google Earthed" it (16° 49' 60, 151° 25' 0 W) and
it looks like a very nice place
to spend a few days - green
island surrounded by blue seas
and a barrier reef (if you
haven't yet discovered
Google Earth you should give
it a go - it's a lot of fun!)
Captain Cook visited Ulietea on his ...
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