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.


  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!

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

  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

    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!