Berg's Book Club

Brief History Candle Making P. Wonning|Berg’s Book Club

Picture of A Brief History of Candle Making book cover by paul wonning. Candle is in the centre.

Book Title:  A Brief History of Candle Making
Author:  Paul R. Wonning
Genre: Non-Fiction
Published:  June 2014
Star Rating: ★★★


Hello and welcome to Berg’s Book Club. Today’s book is an unusual one. It is a non-fiction book on candle making. A Brief History of Candle Making by Paul R. Wonning.

Brief History Candle Making
Book Review

Ok, this is a hard book to review because it’s very short. I mean, it ends on the kindle location, 291. I don’t know what that converts to page-wise but as the average seems to be a few thousand kindle locations for a 300page book, it takes a few minutes to read. So roughly 10 pages?

I tell you why I read this book, I’m writing a screenplay set in the industrial revolution, the protagonist’s dad, Kenneth, is a chandler and I wanted to make sure the imagery was correct on screen.

Was it helpful? A little.

I did manage to write a beautiful scene between the father and the son using this book and cross-referencing with others. Kenneth teaches Benjamin how to create candles. However, Benjamin is a bit of a cluts and manages to mess it up. So it was useful for that scene.

It was also useful in setting up the shop details. There’s specific types of wax that would or would not be used during that time. The most commonly used one would be sperm whale wax, so it was useful for me to add that to the script too.

I also learned that the 1800s candles didn’t have an odour because they discarded tallow. I wasn’t expecting that!

There was a paragraph or two on each candle, where it came from, when it was used and how it improved lightning, so it has helped me identify in my screenplay that the candles need to look like they’re made from sperm whales.

But I was expecting a bit more. I want to know how they processed the wax, the details of how they handmade candles. Just so I could visualise making a candle and then transfer that vision to my screenplay.

Overall thoughts

I’m going to give three stars to this book. It’s not a bad book, because it does what it says on the tin. It gives a brief history of candle making. I think it’s just perhaps a little too brief.

There are some interesting facts on there though. There’s a machine that was invented to create mass production of candles in the late 19th century. Not useful for my story, but interesting nonetheless.

I think it did help me with my imagery in my script, at least in the first few scenes anyway. However, I would say that it’s worth the £1.99 only if you want a book on the basics of candle making.

About the Film

As part of my dissertation, I am writing a script. It’s about a young boy born into an upper-class family who loses everything when the candle business is ruined by the industrial revolution. His father is thrown into debt prison, leaving him to look after his newly born baby brother.

So here’s something for you guys. What do you think of the draft premise for this film? Does it make you want to watch it?

Here’s the premise:

At the peak of the industrial revolution a boy faces challenges as his home and baby brother are put at risk.

Please let me know in comments, you don’t have to be a WordPress user to comment. Also, does anyone have any good books about the chandlery business that you’d recommend?

Before you go

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have, why not read some other book reviews. There are plenty on here: Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and The Colour of Magic by Terry Prattchet just to name a few. And please do follow me on here, Facebook or Twitter.

And don’t forget to comment!



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