by Adam Thorpe
At the heart of this novel lies the fictional village of Ulverton.
It is the fixed point in a book that spans three hundred years.
Different voices tell the story of Ulverton: one of Cromwell's soldiers staggers home to find his wife remarried and promptly disappears, an eighteenth century farmer carries on an affair with a maid under his wife's nose, a mother writes letters to her imprisoned son, a 1980s real estate company discover a soldier's skeleton, dated to the time of Cromell...Told through diaries, sermons, letters, drunken pub conversations and film scripts this is a masterful novel that reconstructs the unrecorded history of England. "Sometimes you forget that it is a novel, and believe for a moment that you are really hearing the voice of the dead". (Hilary Mantel).
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 432 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 06/12/2012
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099573449
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Review by AdonisGuilfoyle
Sometimes a book just calls to you, through cover or blurb, and <I>Ulverton</I> is a prime example. Great concept - the history of a small country village told through various first-hand accounts, from letters to a documentary - but not the easiest book to read. The semi-illiterate letters from a mother to her jailbird son and a stream-of-consciousness ramble from a broadly spoken farmer nearly defeated me (I'm still not sure what was said, and had to wait for a 'translation' of events in the following chapters), yet I persevered, such is the amazing skill of the author. He has the reader <I>believing</I> in these characters, and in the equally fictional Ulverton itself, by the distinctive narrative style and humour of each 'voice'. I don't regret plucking this somewhat experimental novel off the library shelf, but be warned: some of the chapters will leave you with a frown and a headache, like trying to read small text or decipher bad handwriting!