Despite his enormous success with inventions like the light bulb and phonograph, by the late 1800's Thomas Edison's constant desire to discover has left him broke. Thankfully, banker J.P. Morgan sees potential in Edison and offers him huge sums of money to create a company that will light up America. But before their vision can become a reality, Edison will wind up caught in a battle of currents with George Westinghouse, leading him to weigh power against morality in one of American history's greatest stories.
“The inventor poured himself a glass of milk and listened for the twentieth century.”
I read the first sentence of Brilliance over and over again. It's a perfect example of the subtle, incredibly beautiful writing that fills the pages of McCarten's novel. In someone else's hands the battle of the currents could have been dull or overcomplicated, but McCarten does more than rewrite Edison's biography, he gives him a voice. Readers are given a glimpse into Edison's thoughts as he weighs supporting the creation of the electric chair in hopes of crushing his competition and the eventual fallout resulting from its use.
McCarten honors the work of Edison in bringing him to life in a novel both well researched and infused with originality; Brilliance is exactly what fans of historical fiction love to read.