May 24, 2015

London by Edward Rutherfurd

Rutherfurd has a distinctive style to his writing.  He'll take a setting, then proceed to take you through time and follow a few families through the generations of a place.  This particular time, he chose London.

We start at the beginning of time.  And then quickly proceed to where people inhabit London, most noticeably the Ducket family, with their webbed fingers and patch of white hair.  As the generations move, the plight and fortunes of the Ducket family change and intermingle with others (Like the Barnikel family and the Penny family) and they lose and win fortune several times over.  The landscape of London changes as it goes from rural to more urban and the great London Bridge is built. 

There are a lot of characters and it's hard to keep up as you go along.  But it's almost like a series of short stories so if you don't remember the family lineage, it's really ok, you can still get caught up in another set of characters story.  My favorite is probably the story of Jenny and Percy, the maid and the man who loved her and their difficult relationship.  They were later in the history and more familiar in how they lived, so maybe that's why it was easier to relate to them.  Not that the other characters are uninteresting, there's so many different professions and issues that each story is unique.

I really do like the format of how the history is told.  Following the families through generations it makes it easier to understand the history of the area and it definitely isn't as dull as a history textbook would be.  This is a great way to learn history!  Although I can't speak as to how factual everything is.  Obviously the characters aren't real, but the way the landscape and city changed is probably pretty spot on.  There are a few stories that are a little rougher (brothels, kidnapping, etc.)  but the majority are pretty tame and non-violent.

Another good one by Rutherfurd.  I look forward to reading more of his books.

Copyright 1997
1124 pages

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