Edward Rutherfurd belongs to the James Michener school: he writes big, sprawling history-by- the-pound. His novel, London
, stretches two millennia all the way from Roman times to the present. The author places his vignettes at the most dramatic moments of that city's history, leaping from Caesar's invasion to the Norman Conquest to the Great Fire to (of course) the Blitz, with many stops in between. London
is ambitious, and students of English history will eat it up. The author doesn't skimp on historical detail, and that's a signal pleasure of the book. Ultimately, though, the structure of the novel determines the lion's share of its success. Rutherfurd is a good storyteller and each vignette makes for a good story; however, he has given himself the inevitable task of beginning what amounts to a new book every 40 pages or so. Just as one begins to warm to the characters, they are hurried off the stage. You can't read London
without a scorecardbut that's part of the fun.
From School Library Journal
YA. Certainly not for the fainthearted, this 800+ page novel on the history of London is true to the author's form. Rutherford so skillfully weaves detailed fiction and fact that YAs may have to head for the reference books to verify which is which. Basically, the story is London's evolution from a trading post to the seat of an Empire and the families who lived that history. Through the adventures and everyday lives of these characters, one can go to Shakespeare's Globe Theater, tend the plague patients with Dr. Richard Meredith, attend hangings at Newgate Prison, weep at the loss of life and limb due to "God's fire," visit the taverns with Chaucer and his pilgrims, and have other experiences in this exciting city. A special book for readers who have a burning interest in history and the stick-to-itiveness to finish and reflect on it. A perfect choice for the summer hiatus or winter holidays.?Carol Clark, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
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