Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Blogger playing tricks

Although I can post this post, for some reason Blogger is not allowing me to comment on my own posts. No idea why not, but presumably a bug.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Novels about the Middle Ages you should read - number 1

I have decided to write up a short series of recommendations for medieval novels. The qualification to get in is hard - first, they must pass all my personal tests of acceptability (and I am Mr. Picky), second they must be relatively obscure, which means that the works of people like Sharon K. Penman, Elizabeth Chadwick and Anya Seton do not qualify. Not because of any disrespect for these authors - the absolute converse is true - but because if you don't already know about their works then you jolly well should.

First in the series is In a Dark Wood Wandering by Hella Haasse.

The novel is about Charles, Duke of Orleans, and starts with his birth in the late 14th Century and continues to his death in the middle 15th. It's a long book, and the reader needs stamina, but the effort is worth it. You should be aware that Charles spends 25 years as a prisoner in England, so if you're looking for lots of battle action, or even lots of romantic action you may well be disappointed. It's not that sort of novel. However there's tons of politics, tons of intrigue. You may also find Charles, as a person, rather cold and emotionally detached. I'd submit that with the kind of life he had to endure, this is probably a realistic appraisal of his character.

Not a book to cheer you up or set you laughing, but a wonderful tale of human endurance.

(Yes, I know I've reviewed this book before, but it was a 'must' for this series.)