In the Blink of an Eye – Ali Bacon

In 1843, Edinburgh artist, David Octavius Hill, is commissioned to paint the portraits of 400 ministers who have broken away from the Church of Scotland.

It’s only a meeting with Robert Adamson, an early master of the new art of photography, that makes the task seem possible. It’s not long before their attempts to immortalise both people and places, means Hill and Adamson are feted by Edinburgh society.

Victorian Edinburgh, especially Newhaven, and the surrounding outdoors is wonderfully drawn backdrop for the story of the birth of photography and the characters who were involved. Bacon uses the voices of a selection of women to tell their stories – and in doing so, provide an insight into the lives and personalities of Hill and Adamson. The result is a lively, fitting ‘snapshot’ of the period, whether your interest is Victoriana, early photography or Edinburgh history – it all comes alive.

It’s also, quite simply, a well-told story that reads like a novel, through the multiple points of view and the carefully constructed dialogue.

In the Blink of an Eye is a merging of historical fact and fiction, a re-imagining of D.O Hill’s life by those who came to know him. Told with a balance of humour and sensitivity, it’s a story of art and science, of love and loss, friendship and photography.

Published by Linen Press, Edinburgh. Available in hard copy and as an eBook.


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