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London: The Novel
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About the Author

Edward Rutherfurd was born in Salisbury, England, and was educated in Wiltshire and at Cambridge. He has since lived on both sides of the Atlantic, in Dublin and New York, but he returned to his roots to write his first novel, the best-selling Sarum, a history of Salisbury. This was followed by the best-selling Russka, a sweeping history of Russia from the cossack horsemen to the Bolshevik revolution.

Until the 1980s, Edward Rutherfurd pursued a business career -- he attended Stanford Business School, worked for W.H. Smith, and was employed by Tory Party Central Office. As a child, he had been fascinated by the novels of C.S. Forester, Henty, and the historical romances of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His grandmother, Evelyn Winch, was a well-known romantic novelist of the 1930s. Rutherfurd was also influenced by the novels of James Michener, such as Covenant and Texas, and saw that no one had attempted a similar approach in the United Kingdom.

Rutherfurd gave up his secure day job and spent two years researching and writing Sarum. When it was half-finished, and funds were running low, he realized he needed to find an agent. He approached agent Gill Coleridge with a few chapters and a synopsis. Within a month, Century bought the book in England, and the novel was auctioned in the United States. Ten years later, Sarum is still selling all over the world.

Edward Rutherfurd currently lives outside Dublin, Ireland.

From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews

Having already visited Sarum (LJ 9/1/87) and Russka (LJ 9/1/91), English-born novelist Rutherfurd returns with this saga of seven families spanning two millennia.

Like his aesthetic mentor, James Michener, Rutherfurd (Russka; Sarum) takes readers from primordial days to the present; here he focuses on the last 2000 years of humanity on the island kingdom as manifested through the fortunes of seven families and one ancient, ever-evolving city. Such chapter headings as "The Tower," "Hampton Court" and "The Globe" reveal Rutherfurd's primary technique‘to create verbal dioramas that, alas, too often feel as static and didactic as museum displays. Rutherfurd lavishes his greatest attention on the minor figures in English history rather than the greats. Instead of Shakespeare there is Edmund Meredith, playwright of the middling The Blackamoor; instead of Christopher Wren, there is a cowardly, anti-papist woodcarver; and there is Isaac Fleming, creator of the wedding cake. Due to the sheer scope of Rutherfurd's vision, many signal events, such as the Black Death, are afforded only a glancing nod, while the first and final chapters read more like a mannerly BBC documentary than a proper setup for a legend on a grand scale. Rutherfurd's workmanlike narrative ultimately buckles under the weight of its own vast scale, yet readers will savor individual tidbits like the snapshot of young Geoffrey Chaucer saving an abandoned baby. Readers with imagination may even come away with the sense that great cities aren't just places but living beings with hearts and souls. Major ad/promo; BOMC main selection; simultaneous Random House audio; author tour. (June)

YA‘Certainly not for the fainthearted, this 800+ page novel on the history of London is true to the author's form. Rutherford so skillfully weaves detailed fiction and fact that YAs may have to head for the reference books to verify which is which. Basically, the story is London's evolution from a trading post to the seat of an Empire and the families who lived that history. Through the adventures and everyday lives of these characters, one can go to Shakespeare's Globe Theater, tend the plague patients with Dr. Richard Meredith, attend hangings at Newgate Prison, weep at the loss of life and limb due to "God's fire," visit the taverns with Chaucer and his pilgrims, and have other experiences in this exciting city. A special book for readers who have a burning interest in history and the stick-to-itiveness to finish and reflect on it. A perfect choice for the summer hiatus or winter holidays.‘Carol Clark, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA

"A TOUR DE FORCE . . . London tracks the history of the English capital from the days of the Celts until the present time. . . . Breathtaking."--The Orlando Sentinel

"Remarkable . . . The invasion by Julius Caesar's legions in 54 B.C. . . . The rise of chivalry and the Crusades . . . The building of the Globe theatre . . . and the coming of the Industrial Revolution. . . . What a delightful way to get the feel of London and of English history. . . . We witness first-hand the lust of Henry VIII. We overhear Geoffrey Chaucer deciding to write The Canterbury Tales. . . . Each episode is a punchy tale made up of bite-size chunks ending in tiny cliffhangers."--The New York Times

"Hold-your-breath suspense, buccaneering adventure, and passionate tales of love and war."--The Times (London)

"Fascinating . . . A sprawling epic."--San Francisco Chronicle

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