Sarum: The Novel of England

Sarum: The Novel of England A Masterpiece That Is Breathtaking In Its Scope, SARUM Is An Epic Novel That Traces The Entire Turbulent Course Of English History This Rich Tapestry Weaves A Compelling Saga Of Five Families Who Preserve Their Own Particular Characteristics Over The Centuries, And Offer A Fascinating Glimpse Into The Future

Francis Edward Wintle, best known under his pen name Edward Rutherfurd, was born in the cathedral city of Salisbury Educated locally, and at the universities of Cambridge, and Stanford, California, he worked in political research, bookselling and publishing After numerous attempts to write books and plays, he finally abandoned his career in the book trade in 1983, and returned to his childhood home to write SARUM

[BOOKS] ⚣ Sarum: The Novel of England By Edward Rutherfurd –
  • Hardcover
  • 912 pages
  • Sarum: The Novel of England
  • Edward Rutherfurd
  • English
  • 03 April 2018
  • 9780517223543

10 thoughts on “Sarum: The Novel of England

  1. says:

    Quantity not quality I have to admit, I was than a little surprised when I came to this book on Goodreads to leave a review and saw all the glowing reviews I expected maybe a couple 4 stars and mostly 3 stars, but that is not what I found I found all 4 stars and 5 stars How can this be I enjoyed the first chapter of this book so much that I was excited that there would be 1400 pages of it By Chapter 2 however, my excitement was blown out of the water Rutherfurd s writing style has neither finesse nor elegance, both of which I had expected from a book and author that sells so many copies This book was written in such a simplistic manner that I only got halfway through before I had to give the book away The characters were one dimensional and without substance, and their stories were uninspiring For a book that started so awesome it sure did flatline I cannot remember the last time I didn t read a book all the way through Even if I don t like a book I usually still force myself to read to the end But I just couldn t have done that with Sarum It was so poorly written and the short stories were becoming so boring that I found myself choosing to not pick the book up before going to sleep at night and that is just unheard of for me I generally NEED to read for a while before I can get to sleep I will try and finish it, one day , but I cannot imagine how far away that day will be Far, far, FAR away I d say Maybe Rutherfurd should have concentrated on the quality of his writing and his stories instead of trying to simply write big books This was my first Rutherfurd, and definitely my last.For those who are fussy, like me I admit it I don t think this book is for you.

  2. says:

    Now this is a good Stonehenge book Along with anything else that ever happened in Great Britain This is one of those books that you have to say is sweeping in it s scope This book starts with neolithic man arriving in the Sarum area and follows certain bloodlines all the way to present day It s huge I learned about British history with this book than I have with any history text book I think its because its always presented from an individual as opposed to a national standpoint Its one thing to hear that the Saxons invaded at such and such a time, but a completely different thing to hear how it affected the people that were being invaded And what they wore, and how they talked and worshipped The man also knows a ton about how they have cultivated and changed the land throughout time The chapter on Stonehenge was great I came away thinking yeah, that makes sense Whats really amazing is how time changes culture throughout this book and yet in each era we are given a completely believable and sympathetic set of characters.

  3. says:

    Sarum is one of the most amazing books that I have ever read It was almost magical reading It was a book that just stuck with you so much that I actually dreamed about it It was one of the few books I wished would never end and I felt almost lost once it was finished It was like coming down off a high.

  4. says:

    Given that I, slow reader that I am and often in need of days long breaks from a narrative of any size was able to finish, without skimming, a 1,033 page novel, said novel must have had something going for it Sarum certainly does on several levels I will say, however, one should go into it completely aware of its nature, and should treat it as a marathon, not a sprint.Some books in the 800 page range can be treated like sprints The latter Harry Potter books for example While they by no means needed to be anywhere near that long, their fantasy and action oriented narratives make them rather fast, on the go reads in spite of their length Sarum is not such a book.That should be obvious right away, as even its subtitle, A Novel of England indicates the vast scope this tome will attempt to cover And when one takes this idea into account, that the novel is really about a country, or specifically an area of a country that has been populated for thousands of years , tackling its 1,033 pages at a leisurely pace becomes palatable.With that established in one s mind at the outset, several factors about the book itself also make its consumption easier For example, Rutherford s prose is usually easy and unassuming Descriptive without being adjective fodder, the descriptions he gives of places and people are enough to provide one with an image without putting one to sleep for much of the novel This is especially true for the first two thirds of the piece.It also helps that the book is broken down into what actually amounts to a collection of short stories with common characteristics It needs to be for obvious reasons if one s story spans over 10,000 years Any one person s life is but a blink of an eye during such a time span In fact, so is the existence of a whole family unit.So we have mostly accessible writing over the course of various short stories, all tied together by a common setting by interweaving the stories of five families and their descendants over the course of millenia, starting with just after the ice age It is with this formula that Sarum hooks the reader, and introduces them effortlessly to historic periods that are both known to us through documentation, and those about which we can only speculate From the period of hunter gatherers to about the time of Cromwell, o, two thirds of the book, the form continues to work much of the time, and I found myself getting through this percentage of the novel faster than I would have expected That first 600 or so pages are an educational, descriptive and adventurous epic that fires the imagination And there is even a delightful recurring device that appears throughout most of these pages which I enjoyed revisiting each time.Not that the first two thirds are without some faults The characters are sometimes presented with less depth because of the sheer amount of historical ground that needs to be covered Descriptions do tend to get a bit heavy and drag down the action at times And by the time we get to New Sarum, the connections between the families, and their respective places in the town region can become a bit confusing Treating each section as a totally separate story despite references to previous sections will help inoculate the reader against this There is also a family tree provided at the beginning to which the reader will refer frequently.Also, a bit too much time is spent in similar time frames.But in the final third of the book the author takes a bit of a turn Aspects of the book that had been engaging earlier on begin to wear down the proceedings Starting roughly around the time of the rising of Cromwell, pages long dissertations on the nature of the political and economic landscape begin to take precedence over the story of the people experiencing same What had been a book about people who lived through the changing fortunes of their world began to be of a vehicle for historical presentation that made a sometimes too occasional use of characters as cover.Further, the final third abandoned the previously mentioned delightful recurring device, and the reader feels cheated as it had been set up as a device that one expects to see again and again Most problematic for the final third however, is the pacing It is as though the author must now rush to cover history with less story in the final 400 pages, and so the amount of pages that would have covered about 70 years in the first half of the book sometimes cover close to two centuries in the second half And in the process we move somewhat into textbook territory, where we leave characters and plot for stretches that are far too long when compared with the first parts of the book In the final third, the slightly shallower character development, for which we can forgive the author earlier on, becomes a bit of a liability As a result, the final third of the book is in fact less intriguing, imaginative and easy to read than the first two thirds.Not that the latter parts lacked positive qualities Some of the episodes and scenes were interesting than others When he takes his time to tell the story, as opposed to telling the history , things still work in Sarum But one cannot escape the rushed feeling of the final sections, and it is a shame One would almost rather see all of the sections in the novel take on this rushed approach so they matched the latter parts in a consistent whole.Or perhaps the opposite, and desirable approach see the whole book move as leisurely as the first sections did, but have fewer sections As covering all of the years mentioned at the same pace as the Old Sarum chapters would have resulted in a book twice this size Or in a multi volume work I realize that this may have been intentional the author may have been alluding to the fact that life and history itself moved much slower in Pre Roman times, and hence, so does the novel But even if that were the intention of the author, the personal intrigues of the characters themselves need not have been sacrificed as much, nor did the detail of the historical political landscape have to be twice as meticulous in the latter chapters than it was in the earlier chapters.I also think that there was an ever so slight preoccupation with sex It seems that even in the shallower chapters Such as the highly rushed Encampment , the author dedicated an unneeded amount of detail to the bodies, orgasms, and lustful preoccupation of the sometimes otherwise flat characters than was needed It was at no time vulgar, but after a while one begins to wonder how different sex in 1944 could be from sex in 1480, or 1290, or Roman timesetc What I thought was going to be a visceral preoccupation with mating that the prehistoric times required turned out to be a thread throughout all of the ages that did not fade as much as I would have thought at first.Still, the love of the author for both his work, and for the area of Salisbury is obvious throughout the piece Taken in its entirety it truly is a neat concept executed with meticulous research, casual prose, and enviable passion It may have run out of gas near the end, but there were nonetheless enough fumes to get the book where it needed to be by the end even if some of the short cuts prevented as much sight seeing as I would have liked Due to its originality, the reader roots for Sarum, and that is what propelled me to finish it, and to have been happy in so doing.

  5. says:

    It took me a long time to read this one, it s huge but worth it It s a history lesson disguised as fiction, and it s gorgeous.The book follows five families from prehistoric to modern day, jumping through some of the most important moments in the history of Sarum and England The last two chapters were the most heart wrenching for me, but there are a lot of moments like that Rutherford doesn t try to make it happily ever after, it s real life and believeable.I can t wait to get started on his others, but I m going to pick a slightly less meaty volume to work on next

  6. says:

    This is another book that gets 5 stars for being a great big hunk of enjoyable cheese But it s historical cheese Sarum tells the entire history of England, from its ice age prehistory when the first men arrived on the island to the 1980s, by focusing the passing of ages on the city of Salisbury, once known as Sarum Located on the edge of Salisbury Plain, at the juncture of five rivers, archeological evidence tells us it s been a trading settlement since prehistoric times and of course, it is located only a few miles from Stonehenge Rutherfurd uses a mixture of archeology and recorded history to tell us the complete history of Sarum from the arrival of Hwll the Hunter, seeking high ground as the ice melts, to the last in the line of the Shockleys and Masons, who have entertained us with their family dramas for centuries, trying to restore Salisbury Cathedral in 1985.How historically accurate is this book It would take a historian to criticize that aspect of Rutherfurd s storytelling, though obviously everything involving the neolithic settlers, followed by the bronze age settlers, ancestors of the Celts, and pretty much everything up to Roman times, has to be speculation than known fact To this day, we don t know for sure exactly when Stonehenge was built or for what purpose, and I remember an Irish history professor in college telling me Don t believe anything anyone writes about druids crazy people write about druids So Rutherfurd s take on the bloodthirsty rites of these Bronze Age tribesmen is probably as likely as any other.This is not primarily a history book, though, but a multi generational many, many, many generations soap opera, through which history is told Of the many families living around Sarum, Rutherfurd invents several the Wilsons descended from Will s son though actually present as fisher folk living on Sarum s rivers since the Ice Age , the Masons descended from a medieval mason, who was himself descended from an old Celtic craftsman who learned architecture from the Romans, who was himself descended from the architect of Stonehenge , the Porters descended from a Roman officer named Porteus , the Godfreys descended from a Norman knight , the Shockleys, the Forests a branch of the Wilsons that renamed themselves something noble once they got money who frequently change names and reverse fortunes and have interwoven lives, feuds, and marriages with the passing of centuries The family that ruled Sarum in Roman times becomes in the 19th century the tenant farmers living on land owned by another family that were Anglo Saxon peasants in the 11th, and so on Naturally they don t know their ancient noble or common origins the way the reader does, other than as family tales passed down which they believe to be largely fictitious, like Doctor Barnagel, who laughs at his family s legend of being descended from a Danish invader known for crying Bairn nae gel Don t kill the children , not knowing that it s actually true.This is a historical epic told through the eyes of everyday people Rutherfurd has each of his families passing down physical and personality traits through the generations that are fanciful than genetic, but there is something pleasing and familiar in seeing what the scheming, spider like Wilsons are up to in each century, or what form the next generation s incarnation of a buxom, ish Shockley girl will take.It sprawls across all of history How are these families affected by the Roman invasion The Anglo Saxon invasion The Danish invasion The Norman invasion The Black Death The Reformation The English Civil War The New World The Napoleonic Wars All the way into the 20th century, where things became a bit rushed, covering the passing of time from World War I to 1985 in as many pages as earlier were spent on a single generation in the medieval era.Stylistically, Edward Rutherfurd is a plain and unembellished writer and he often relies on cliches and tropes, particularly all the women with their firm young bodies from paleolithic times onward, and the aforementioned repetition of family traits, from the Wilsons long toed feet, dating back to the Ice Age, to the precise fussiness of the Porters, dating back to their Roman ancestor Chapters begin with a lot of historical exposition explaining what s going on in this era, then zooming into what our families are up to and which side they re taking But none of this was a detriment to me it was a long, long listen and very satisfying The time spent to research and write an epic spanning over 10,000 years and yet get us personally invested in the lives of individual people made it well worth it So, maybe Sarum really only deserves 4 stars but I m giving it 5 because I liked it enough that I am pushing Rutherfurd s New York epic higher on my TBR list.

  7. says:

    The story of the small portion of humanity that settled in and developed Salisbury Sarum being an abbreviated rendering of the Roman name Sorbiodunum from the stone age to the 1980s Following the struggles, fortunes, tribulations, and remade fortunes of five lineages, the novel details how waves of invaders Cro Magnons, Normans, Romans, Vikings changed the landscape, economy, and culture, from Stonehenge to livestock breeding to Cathedral building, but then were in turn changed by it and became part of its fabric.I had some mixed feelings while reading this book At 897 pages, it s a hugely ambitious project indeed sometimes Rutherfurd casts his net far wider than Sarum itself, following some of Salisbury s sons in the American Revolution or at D Day But high ambition alone does not ensure quality Certainly it is an achievement in itself simply to tell such an epic tale But the proof is in the telling itself And here the prose is, at times, purple at best and clunky and awkward at worst Some sentences are as in danger of toppling as Salisbury Cathedral s spire, so packed are they with meandering clauses Further, the book is astonishingly riddled with comma misuse I found one egregious comma error literally at least every four pages, which raises the question of whether the book was proofread at all Finally, there is Rutherfurd s authorial style, which is preachy and intrusive, especially in the early chapters, where he feels the need to step into his fictional world and explain in sometimes lengthy paragraphs the science or geography behind what a character was doing, as if to assure the readers that he d done his research before popping back behind the curtain again Or he might begin a section under the rubric with, for example, 1244, only to state a few paragraphs in that in order to really pick up at that point, we must first go back a little Then why did he begin in 1244 Why not just tell the thread of the story from that earlier point, or have the characters refer to the slow changes that came before These anachronistic authorial intrusions would have worked better, if he really had to have them, as endnotes to each chapter, rather than breaking the narrative so jarringly On the positive side, the way he charts the evolution of Sarum s economy, for example, is astounding and commendable But what really makes the book work is the human adventure each time he dips into a past era, there is a poignant or dramatic or thrilling vignette, a short story involving one of his five families, that underscores the vicissitudes of fate and the indomitable spark that keeps humanity going through the fortunes and failures that time brings With a heavy handed, level headed editor, this could have been a brilliant book As it is, it s an impressive curiosity It was a chore to read at times, but I m not sorry I read it all.

  8. says:

    Rutherfurd writes amazing family sagas over long time frames, concentrating on one geographical area e.g Paris, New York, Russia In this book he focuses on one area Sarum which is site of the earliest settlement of Salisbury in England Starting in pre historic times right through to modern day, this book reads as a series of novellas, but still focusing on the same 5 families through the generations.It took me two months to read this, not just because it is so HUGE but also because the style made it difficult to engage Once a chapter was done, the next chapter would jump forward in time with little continuity so that is why it felt like a set of novellas and made it difficult to keep reading rather than being distracted with other books This wasn t my favourite of his, but I m glad to have read it and would recommend it to any history buffs.

  9. says:

    Oddest thing it is the best and most compelling book that I did not like reading at all Don t get me wrong I am duly impressed by Rutherford s undertaking and his research although sometimes flawed or biased Further, the idea is spectacular The problem was that I did not enjoy it I felt I went from story to story, from generation to generation, as of an obligation as opposed to an interest I frankly did not care at all about any of these people My feeling at the last page was thank God it is over In saying this, I am truly glad that I read it.

  10. says:

    I took my dear sweet time reading this novel, and cherished every second Historical fiction works, and works well, when it can be lingered over, savored when it can be read, then re read, as the author s glowing accounts of historical events come to life right off the page James Michener was a master of this craft Edward Rutherfurd aptly keeps him company, as evidenced by his sweeping novel, SARUM Set in the author s hometown of Salisbury, England, this is a novel that tells the rich history of the valley where five rivers meet As seen through the eyes of members of five prominent families over thousands of years, the reader witnesses an astounding array of historical abundance from the wondrous building of ancient stonehenge to the meticulous construction of the world renowned Salisbury Cathedral from the influence of the Romans to the bloody invasion of the Vikings from feudal oppression to the horrific Black Death from civil war to Renaissance from industry to empire Over and over, Rutherfurd tells a rich, compelling, absorbing account of the history of the Avon Valley the history of England Unlike other readers, I was not particularly bothered by each family having its own inherent propensity for a certain skill, or behaviour For example, the Porters had an eye for detail and numbers the Masons were inherently skilled craftsmen This device enables the author to maintain consistency My only caveat is that, after a virtually breathless examination of countless centuries of events, the titanic happenings of the 20th Century are glossed over in only a handful of pages But this, however, did not take away from my supreme enjoyment of this novel SARUM THE NOVEL OF ENGLAND does what historical fiction is supposed to do entertain and enlighten I learned, and I learned a lot, having read this book Highly recommended.

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