Monday, August 22, 2016

Sarum

When we were in England last year a number of people on tour with us, because of my interest in history, arecommended that I should read Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd. I thank them for this recommendation.

When we visited Hobart in November for the Seniors Cricket National Championships I purchased a copy of Sarum in Dymocks Bookshop. Since then my copy of Sarum attended most of the local over 60s games that I watched last season, travelled to Launceston and Adelaide when we visited for cricket matches, and more recently has been to Port Douglas. A well travelled book.  Although this book obviously took me a while to finish this was due to a shortage of reading time and had nothing to do with the impact of the novel. In a way the structure of the book allowed me to take a periodic break from the novel as each chapter covers a succint period in English history from the time when the area around Sarum (Salisbury) was first settled until after the Second World War.

Sarum, Rutherfurd's first novel, was published in 1987. The story unfolds through the lives of the members of five families - the Wilsons, the Shockleys, the Masons, the Porters and the Godfreys, although there are variations in some family names over time. Each chapter looks at how events occuring in England at a particular period of time may have impacted upon the lives of ordinary people. However the changes in the use of landscape over time is also an important feature of the book as is the cathedral in Salisbury.

In August 2011 we visited the area of England where the book is set including Stonehenge and Old Sarum and the Cathedral in Salisbury. It was therefore, for me, especially interesting to read this novel. My blog posts (above) noted the remnants of the castle at Old Sarum built in Norman times, the foundations of the first cathedral in the region plus the deep ditches around the site including a note that this had originally been a Neolithic site before being used in the Bronze Age, Iron Age, during Roman occupation and by the Saxons. All of these time periods are covered in the novel.

My paperback edition of Sarum comprises 1344 pages so it is quite a long book however it is one that I would certainly recommend to anyone interested in reading a novel about the history of England.

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