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This is a thoroughly riveting story recreated fictionally in the author's imagination to enliven history using Chaucer's Canterbury Tales as a backdrop and using its characters.This is historical fiction at prime with full characters in new and surprising dilemmas. Each character has his/her own chapter with 23 in all. Political and religious intrigues in 14th century England abound and are on canvas here.
- Opponents and supporters of the monarch (King Richard II), the exiled Henry Bolingbroke, the Church, and other secular as well as non-secular interests are secretly moving through the darkly dangerous medieval streets of London. Strange alliances are embroiled against each other in a number of clandestine, mysterious conflicts (Quote)
- There is a profusion of cultural arcane details which an intelligent reader seeks an explanation for.
- History with a new twist-unforgettable.
The Clerkenwell Tales
Reviewed by Tim Davis
Peter Ackroyd, bestselling author of London: The
Biography and Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination (as well as dozens
of other fiction and nonfiction titles) has recently published an absolutely
wonderful new book, The Clerkenwell Tales. This mind-boggling mixture of fact
and fiction uses Chaucer's Canterbury Tales as the foundational framework for an
intellectual story of political and religious intrigues in medieval
fourteenth-century England. Using many of Chaucer's pilgrims as his characters
for this fascinating adventure, with quite a few others thrown in to make it all
even more interesting, Ackroyd cleverly creates a thoroughly riveting story.
Readers will become reacquainted with Chaucer's wonderful pilgrims. The Miller
is there. So is the Wife of Bath. And in addition to the Prioress, the Pardoner,
and the Nun's Priest, readers will encounter dozens of Chaucer's (and Ackroyd's)
fully realized characters in new and very surprising situations.As we are
introduced to each character in his or her own chapter (twenty-three, in all),
we gradually learn that conspiracies of unimaginable complexity and profound
implications abound in England. Opponents and supporters of the monarch (King
Richard II), the exiled Henry Bolingbroke, the Church, and other secular as well
as non-secular interests are secretly moving through the darkly dangerous
medieval streets of London. Strange alliances are embroiled against each other
in a number of clandestine, mysterious conflicts. They hope to wrest power from
each other and assert themselves and their causes as powers throughout
England.Full of wonderful imagery - pungent, disturbing, and staggering in its
scope and detail - The Clerkenwell Tales is a suspense-filled tale beautifully
enriched with an amazing plot and provocative themes. Paradoxically, while very
entertaining and informative, it is also rather demanding at times because of
the profusion of cultural and historical details, and readers - if at all like
me - will constantly (albeit enjoyably) get distracted by the urgent need to
seek out explanations for those arcane details from other research sources.Just
as readers, upon first encountering Chaucer, were most certainly entertained and
informed by his representation of medieval England, readers now - once they have
read The Clerkenwell Tales - will have a new perspective, and will never again
think of Chaucer or pre-Renaissance England in quite the same way. This book is
history with a wonderful twist. It is deliciously unforgettable.