Set in Oxford in the 1660s – a time and place of great intellectual, scientific, religious and political ferment – this remarkable novel centres around a young woman, Sarah Blundy, who stands accused of the murder of Robert Grove, a fellow of New College. Four witnesses describe the events surrounding his death: Marco da Cola, a Venetian Catholic intent on claiming credit for the invention of blood transfusion; Jack Prescott, the son of a supposed traitor to the Royalist cause, determined to vindicate his father; John Wallis, chief cryptographer to both Cromwell and Charles 1l a mathematician, theologican and inveterate plotter; and Anthony Wood, the famous Oxford antiquary. Each one tells their version of what happened but only one reveals the extraordinary truth.
©1997 Iain Pears (P)2011 Isis Publishing Ltd
The book is structured as four contemporaneous accounts. With each account you discover a little more of the full story. Brilliantly crafted and full of interesting historical references, solid performances transport the listener. Well-worth persevering despite the length.
"A gripping tale!"
Though long, the story was told through different voices which is a novel approach. The author holds your attention until the very end and provides a totally expected conclusion. Highly recommended and I will want to listen to more from this author.
"Strange but quite compelling"
This was not what I was expecting at all - although I was mildly disappointed at first, it grew on me! My history is far from good so I do not know if the historical facts were indeed accurate, but as the story progressed there were several twists and turns that I did not see coming - and that does not happen very often!
A good storyline that became more appealing as it progressed - worth reading especially if you want something a little different from the normal murder mystery.
"An instance of the fingerpost"
There is very rarely an historic novel that grabs. This is mine. From start to finish. All either real or feasible for the time in history and brilliantly narrated. There are some books I love but can't listen to the narrator, this was perfect! I would recommend to anyone because there is something from all the characters that would appeal.
"Rich in historic detail"
A great story, well told, one f my favourite audiobooks.
There's a wealth of characters, all really well depicted.
This is a long book, but it's fascinating. Strong sense of period with a lot of historic detail. It took a while to finish, but I really enjoyed it.
My mother recommended this book to me for years, and now I see why. The 1660s Oxford setting and smattering of familiar names create a convincing world where the four narrators tell their tales. Layer upon layer of detail, mystery and intrigue build as each account of events helps you put together the 'truth'. Using four readers in the audio recording completes the experience. Well worth my time!
"Nice twists in the story."
Enjoyed the story. Good narration and liked the sneaky twists and turns . . .
"Clever but untimately unsatisfying"
A clever and well written mystery centered on a series of connected events as seen through the very differing persepctives of a handful of eye witnesses. Each of the witnesses turn out to be rather unattractive, self serving liars who whinge constantly and twist the tale to their own ends, at great length. Before long I tired of the narrators and their stories and as a result of the book itself. The solving of the mystery, when it finally arrived, was something of a damp squib at the end of a very long and slow burning fuse.
I read this book over 10 years ago and loved it and decided that it was worth a listen. I wasn't dissappointed. If you like historical fiction and crime thrillers then this is a must-"read". The events are narrated from 4 different characters' points of view, which allows you piece together the big picture by the end. Definitely recommend it and will definitely enjoy a second listen myself.
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