All things change…
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
When strangers arrive in Walter’s village, they herald the end of a way of life that has been unchanged since anyone in the village can remember. Mr Quill, the Chart-Maker, is mapping the land and the villagers are soon to learn that the new landowner has plans to enclose the land and change its use. Meanwhile a family of strangers has arrived in the village, driven here when their own land was lost to them in the same way. Although no date or location is given, it seems that we are in Tudor England.
The book begins strongly with a tale of two fires – one started maliciously, the other as a signal of new arrivals setting up home. The action takes place over the period of a week, during which we see the effects of change on this isolated group. The tone is elegiac – although the author tells us of some of the less pleasant aspects of village life, on the whole he paints a picture of a rural idyll where all work together for the common weal. But when the outsiders come and the villagers feel under threat, we see darker aspects of village life as the original inhabitants draw closer together and incomers suddenly find themselves on the outside, mistrusted, maltreated and betrayed.
The author’s use of language is evocative, often poetic, and his descriptive style gives us a beautifully drawn picture of village life. However, for me, there are a couple of problems that mean that in the end the book doesn’t quite live up to its early promise. Told in the first person, our chronicler is Walter Thirsk, previously a servant and now a farmhand, and yet Walter’s language is that of a poet and philosopher. As a result, lovely though the writing is, the narrative voice didn’t ring true. Also most of the story is told by halfway through the book and the second half feels very empty and unnecessarily dragged out. The plot device allowing the book to play out as it does felt contrived and unrealistic and for the last 70 pages or so, I was really longing for it to finish – I felt that the author had said everything necessary and that the book had lost any thrust or momentum.
Despite these criticisms, I enjoyed the early part of the book very much, the prose throughout is beautiful and the descriptions of village life, particularly the working of the land, are particularly well done; all of which makes this a book well worth reading.
NB This book was provided for review by Amazon Vine UK.