The Ingenious Edgar Jones

Written by Elizabeth Garner
Review by Luan Gaines

Picture this: A meteorite spills a shower of stars into the sky one cold February night in 1847 Oxford, England. That same night, Edgar Jones utters his first cry. His father, William, a humble porter at Oxford University, is enchanted by his newborn son, a bright, happy boy. At the age of seven, Edgar dismantles William’s grandfather clock to examine its secrets, the first inkling that the child has the soul of an inventor. A battle enjoined between father and son, William clings to a well-thumbed bible, while Edgar embraces the mysteries of the world. Their struggle mimics the battle between religion and science that rages throughout England.

Escaping the confines of his locked room and his father’s demands, Edgar climbs out his bedroom window and into the world. Apprenticed to a blacksmith, the soot-covered boy questions everything, driven to understand the nature of things. Encouraged by an eccentric Oxford University professor, a bone collector, Edgar’s imagination soars. For every problem set before him, Edgar creates an ingenious solution. But with the world comes disappointment and disillusionment: A third apprenticeship offers opportunity, but delivers danger as well as life-changing consequences.

Garner’s prose sparkles as brightly as the meteor’s light show the night of the child’s birth, a boy at odds with the restraints of the world and his father’s limitations. For Edgar, life has an urgency all its own, propelling him through uncharted territory, a warrior of the possible. In this poignant and provocative journey, past is pitted against future, a mesmerizing tale of the utter futility of resistance in the face of discovery.