Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd




A few weeks ago, a cold sent me home for a few days. Feeling bad was bad enough until I realized I didn’t have anything to read. Quel horreur!

I rummaged around the house and finally found a 1000-page paperback of Edward Rutherfurd’s Sarum that I had picked up at a used book store years ago. I’m not sure, but I think I’d bought it to take on a trip. I never took the book, or maybe I never took the trip, because thankfully, I never read the book. A few weeks later, healthier now, I’m still engrossed in this wonderful imaginary trek across millennia. 

Beginning with the earliest Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, Sarum follows five families of Southern England around what is today Salisbury Plain and two of its most famous landmarks, Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge. Men and women eke out a living on the high chalk plain, develop agriculture, build towns and Roman roads, and later factories, drive cars and watch televisions.

It is the people’s near-mystical attraction to their fruitful land that weaves in and out of this 40,000 year-long narrative and it makes for compelling reading. The people and their stories come and go but their love of the land is a constant, tied nicely together by a few little literary conceits that I don’t want to give away.

I’m glad I’m feeling better. And I’m glad I discovered Edward Rutherfurd’s Sarum. You can reserve it here.

4 comments:

  1. I'm currently listening to Sarum; I downloaded it from Library2Go. I love how the history of England comes to life through the eyes of ordinary folk, generation after generation!

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    1. And how fortunes change, as the nobles loose their money and power, while the villeins become rich. And back again.

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  2. I just finished Sarum and really enjoyed it too. I live in Salisbury (actually on what was once called Mizmaze Hill - the Mizmaze is no longer here, but it features in the book), so it was a lot of fun marrying up the events and locations in the book with what I know of the place.

    You might or might not be interested to know that we've now got a passageway on the Market Place that's been named 'Rutherfurd Walk', after the writer

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    1. Thanks for you comment, Matt. I remember Mizmaze Hill well.
      I'm glad "Sarum" has recognized Mr. Rutherfurd in that way. I think he really made the history of your fair city come alive!

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