The Binding - Bridget Collins; | Foyles Bookstore
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The Binding
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The Binding (Hardback)

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Foyles Notes

"For years it’s been my story, unfolding in the safety of my own head, but now it’ll meet the people who count. I really, really hope that you enjoy The Binding"

Read more from Bridget Collins on our blog


Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice - but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there's something you want to forget, he can help. If there's something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book and you will never remember your secret, however terrible. In a vault under his mentor's workshop, row upon row of books - and memories - are meticulously stored and recorded.

Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it.

The Binding is an unforgettable, magical novel: a boundary-defying love story and a unique literary event.

`I wish I had written it' - Erin Kelly 

Fiction & PoetryModern & contemporary fiction post c 1945 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication Date: 10/01/2019 ISBN-13: 9780008272111  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
Availability: Currently unavailable  

Bridget Collins trained as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art after reading English at King's College, Cambridge. She is the author of seven acclaimed books for young adults and has had two plays produced, one at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Binding, her first adult novel, was a no. 1 Sunday Times bestseller.

More books by Bridget Collins

Customer Reviews

The Binding is probably the most beautiful book I’ve ever seen, both outside and under the dust jacket, and probably one of the most spellbinding books I’ve ever read. I read this book over four flights I took over the last three days, and hated every minute that I couldn’t be reading The Binding in the middle. ALL THE THINGS I LOVED: 1. I loved almost every part of this book, despite its slow beginning. It took me a while to get into the story, especially before Seredith started explaining the art of binding, but there was a point where I looked up (probably in the middle of the first flight) and realized that I was invested in the story, waiting for the unraveling of secrets, hoping for the best possible ending and everyone to just be… happy. 2. I am OBSESSED with Bridget Collins’ writing style. I loved how she created her characters, her descriptions, and her world-building. I loved the chemistry between two certain characters (no spoilers though) and how she created their relationships. It was wonderful, immersive writing. 3. I loved the art of binding and the world that Bridget Collins’ created in The Binding. It’s very hard to describe what it all felt like without giving away spoilers but suffice it to say that reading this book was like reading magic on a page. 4. I loved that this wasn’t told in linear form, because it raised the ‘I’m intrigued and invested’ factor SO MUCH. THE ONE THING I WISHED WAS BETTER: 1. As Emmett moves from his farm to the marshes to the big city, The Binding touches upon the social implication of giving people the power to wipe someone else’s memory. It was especially interesting because I thought that Emmett and Lucian, as a binder and rich person whose family employs the services of a binder respectively, were going to take on the systemic abuse of power and money and exploitation that had come with binding for money which would have made this book unforgettable, but they didn’t. I LOVE THE STORY AS IS, but I also wish it had more in terms of a social crusade. Would I recommend this book? ABSOLUTELY. The Binding is magical, spellbinding and captivating with fluid, immersive writing and stunning worldbuilding. I loved it and I hope you will too.

- 22/03/2019
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I did enjoy this book – the central love story was very well done, as was the portrayal of class structure and social expectations – but I felt that the fantasy angle had not been fully thought through. The book is in three parts – the first two narrated by the main character, and the third by another central character. The fantasy aspect is generally confined to the first and last parts, with the middle section almost free to be a straightforward, but beautifully told love story. The fantasy revolves around books – and to my dismay – not in a positive way. In this world, books are regarded with suspicion and fear. This is because real books are the real memories sucked out of a person’s mind by a bookbinder and written on the pages, leaving the person with no ability to recall the extracted memories. The theory is that people can get rid of particular memories that are too painful to live with. Supposedly, a binder can only bind the memories of a willing person, but it is not clear whether this is a legal requirement, or an actual curb on the abilities of the binders. In the book, very few of the people who were bound, were bound of their own free will. They verbally had to agree to the binding, but was that permission freely given. Most were coerced – by an employer, husband, by threats to their loved ones … Or the binding was an act of desperation due to poverty, with a life-time of memories being the last thing for sale. When a witness or victim can no longer remember the crime, then the perpetrator goes free. And because the bound person cannot remember they have been bound, the crime can be committed over and over again: crime, binding, crime, binding, crime, …. Until there is nothing left of the bound person’s mind. An ethical binder keeps safe all the books they have bound, never to be read by another person. But there is a market for real books – desired for the vicarious thrill of witnessing a bound person’s worst nightmares, or simply for the secrets they contain. But the books are safe only so long as the ethical binder remains alive and in control. The binding made me very uneasy. It brought to mind the implications of consent and morality in euthanasia and rape. Your life, your maturity, your learning from experiences, your education, are all intimately connected to your memories – the good, the bad and the indifferent. If you lose even part of your memories you lose part of your soul, part of what makes you you. Suppressing a memory is quite different to binding. A suppressed memory might return one day, and is in the person’s subconscious control – a bound memory never should return, and is forever outside the person’s knowledge or command. I felt that most of the characters in the book gave only lip-service to the (im)morality involved with the binding – except when it directly affected them and their family. Books are burned, murders are committed and instigated, but after a moment’s regret, it is all ok, because the character needs it to be. So, an interesting, but essentially disconcerting, premise. Some excellent characterisation, and good story telling, but not an easy or comfortable read. I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

- 11/02/2019
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