Sunday, 19 October 2008

Book of the Month

My book of the month is The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer.

This book covers just about every imaginable aspect of life in fourteenth century England, and indeed some that are pretty unimaginable. To quote from the blurb: 'How do you greet people in the street? What should you use for toilet paper? How fast - and how safely - can you travel? Why might a physician want to taste your blood? And how do you test to see if you are going down with the plague?' It's all this and a lot, lot more.

For anyone newly aspiring to write novels about late medieval England it's an invaluable source that will save you days and weeks of research. For those of us who thought we had done that research, it's a reminder that we didn't know everything, and a useful insurance against future bloops. Sharon K. Penman would never have put that famous grey squirrel in Sunne In Splendour if she had had this book.

Don't mess about - just buy it!

3 comments:

Susan Higginbotham said...

I got this in the mail a few days ago and am finding it fascinating.

Brian said...

Hi Susan,

From a novelist's POV I think it's arguably the single most useful book ever published for this era of English history. I can question the odd interpretation, but it's simply invaluable to have all this stuff written down in one place. It's going to be a first port of call for many aspects of research and I just hope it doesn't make me too lazy.

John Foelster said...

I suppose the Penman squirrel might have been a space-time traveling member of the class of 500 odd American Gray Squirrels captured by my father in my obscure corner of Southeastern Pennsylvania and transported to the far side of the (Schuykill) river, where "They won't have to pay wage tax."

A fairly amusing book could be written about a team of crack squirrel physicists attempting to break the time barrier in order to save their tribe from what I lovingly and incredibly distastefully termed "The Final Solution to the Squirrel Problem in Whitemarsh Township".