Writers take note: I chose the book based on its title and cover and a sense that there must be a story there. I was ready for a historical novel and enjoy most things British. All that made it an easy decision when Amazon invited me to read the book for free on my Kindle. But I was unsure of what to think. Most reviewers praised the book. High praise. A few, though, scoffed and said it was a poor attempt at writing the classic British novel. The history is all wrong, the characters are flat, and the plot? Outrageous and silly.
I don’t know if the history is right or wrong; it was close enough from my vantage. The plain fact is that I don’t read historical novels for fealty to events. In a novel of this sort, I enjoy the terroir and general feeling of the language and setting. It is, after all, a work of fiction. Doesn’t every writer toy with fact?
Beefs? The plot veers into the fantastic. Imagine the most outrageous thing that could happen next, and it does. And none of the characters change in any real sense from when they are first introduced. But I still turned each page to know what happened next.
And isn’t that how a reader judges a book?
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