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Sarum: The Novel of England | [Edward Rutherfurd]

Sarum: The Novel of England

In Sarum, Edward Rutherfurd weaves a compelling saga of five English families whose fates become intertwined over the course of centuries. While each family has its own distinct characteristics, the successive generations reflect the changing character of Britain. We become drawn not only into the fortunes of the individual family members, but also the larger destinies of each family line.
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Publisher's Summary

In Sarum, Edward Rutherfurd weaves a compelling saga of five English families whose fates become intertwined over the course of centuries. While each family has its own distinct characteristics, the successive generations reflect the changing character of Britain. We become drawn not only into the fortunes of the individual family members, but also the larger destinies of each family line.

Meticulously researched and epic in scope, Sarum covers the entire sweep of English civilization: from the early hunters and farmers, the creation of Stonehenge, the dawn of Christianity, and the Black Death; through the Reformation, the wars in America, the Industrial Age, and the Victorian social reforms; up through the World War II invasion of Normandy and the modern-day concerns of a once-preeminent empire.

©1987 Edward Rutherfurd (P)1994 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“Nadia May is ideal; her British accents fit the locale, and her pacing and characterizations are smooth, unobtrusive and compelling. The ease of her reading leads the listener to forget she is there, the sign of the perfect narrator.” (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (385 )
5 star
 (130)
4 star
 (131)
3 star
 (70)
2 star
 (33)
1 star
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Overall
3.9 (328 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.0 (332 )
5 star
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4 star
 (119)
3 star
 (57)
2 star
 (15)
1 star
 (15)
Performance
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  •  
    Pamela Baltimore, MD, United States 08-14-13
    Pamela Baltimore, MD, United States 08-14-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    "Tedious"
    Would you try another book from Edward Rutherfurd and/or Wanda McCaddon?

    Doubtful


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes, I like the narrator but the whole thing became "mechanical" due to the unrelenting assault of facts at the expensive of a good story. There was little a narrator could do but plow through it.


    Could you see Sarum being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No, it was big on historical facts, one after another, but minimal character development. Nothing to make a movie out of. I guess it could be done in documentary form for quite a history was presented.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simone St Laurent, Quebec, Canada 12-29-12
    Simone St Laurent, Quebec, Canada 12-29-12 Member Since 2006

    Join me on GoodReads too!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    369
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    294
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    "Loved the concept!"

    I love the concept of this book: the history of a place told by a family of its inhabitants down through the generations. That’s one of the reasons it’s on my Favourites List: Over and above an appealing story that I enjoy reading, it’s a clever concept.

    The story starts in prehistoric times, and continues over the ages during the building of Stonehenge, the arrival of the Romans and Vikings, The Plague, The Reformation etc… If you love historical fiction, you’ll enjoy the tales of how everyday ordinary people lived during those significant times in British History. In essence, because you can’t really cover 5000 years of detailed history in 1000 pages (or 45 hours on audio), the book is a collection of short stories. Interesting ones!! and that’s what makes the book so easy to read despite the length… then again, after reading (and loving) Ken Follett’s bricks, this one doesn’t seem so bad.

    I have to admit that I got a little lost along the way, and I am no longer sure how the families are interconnected, but it’s not a deterrent to keep going. I am three quarters of the way through, up to “The Unrest” in 1642 (Catholics versus Protestants in Ireland). I have another few days to go until I am done (or 350 years), but I know I will be riveted to the end (1980s).

    Clearly I am not alone in my admiration of this concept for a book, the formula was a hit and he’s written many more in the same style (for example: Russia, London, Ireland, and Dublin) but I think after Sarum I am done with Britain for this kind of book but I might try “London”. “Russia” doesn’t interest me that much, but I do have “New York” and I am looking forward to “Paris” due to come out in April 2013.

    The narrator was great, but I agree there were a few production glitches – not many, but enough to lose a star.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fiona Milton, PA, United States 12-28-12
    Fiona Milton, PA, United States 12-28-12 Member Since 2012

    Radio producer; storyteller; folk historian; and audio book addict...Audio books are the only way that I can fit in all the reading I need and want to do. ...Oh, and I am also British. (Anglo-Welsh).

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mostly Brilliant"

    I listened with a sigh. oh blast! I thought; I'm now definitely going to maintain my reputation for fussiness over pronunciation.
    First, Wanda McCaddon aka Doneda Peters; is a well known reader to me. I've listened to many of her performances, and like her voice very much. She adds character without over doing it; and rarely lets one down.
    This performance is mostly brilliant.
    Only one tiny (but teeth grinding) problem. Nobody explained to her, the all important rules of Celtic pronunciation.
    No soft C's....F is pronounced like V, no soft G's.
    So when she said "Selt" rather than "Kelt" in virtually the first line, I was a little dismayed.
    When she went on to say "Affon" rather than "Avon" (at least she pronounced the "A" correctly) I actually chuckled, as the sentence read something like
    "The Roman's pronunciation sounded strange to the Celts' ears" Actually, the Roman pronounced Afon correctly, the Celtic way.
    I know, we've established that I am an irritating fusspot....but...in a reading of a book, these little things can make or mar the telling.
    Luckily, Wanda's overall performance is up to her usual star turn. I hold the researchers and producers responsible for these slips.
    The book itself is extraordinary. Rutherfurd brings us an history of a part of England; that is rich and compelling.
    If you happen to know the area well (as I am lucky to do) the story becomes even more fascinating, as you feel the development and changes over the centuries.
    I have read other Rutherfurd books, his "London" remains locked in my memory.
    I love the way that Rutherfurd gives his characters small identifiable physical characteristics, so that one may recognise the line of descendants over the story.
    Wonderful story for lovers of England, British history, and particularly Salisbury and Wiltshire.
    Overall brilliant....how does one describe an audio equivalent of a page turner?
    I couldn't bear to take out my earbuds......I worked happily on cleaning /sorting tasks for hours allowing the story to transport me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suze Victoria, BC, Canada 05-06-12
    Suze Victoria, BC, Canada 05-06-12 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    38
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    "Completely Engaging"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, for people who relish extremely, well-researched historical fiction.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Sarum?

    I am already quite familiar with the history of this area so I thoroughly enjoyed the author's description of particular events, battles, social changes etc. and how the effect on a diverse group of people. However, what made this book memorable for me was author's depiction of the ice age, migration south and early settlement of the area: this was simply delicious!


    What about Wanda McCaddon’s performance did you like?

    I think her consistency was particularly notable. Given this was such a long book, I was impressed that her narration brought the same tone from beginning to end. I had no idea which of the six parts I was listening to at any given sitting - other than the timeline itself. Like many of the good narrators, she did not emote and allowed the events and the characters to tell the story.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There were many...


    Any additional comments?

    I have read extensively about this area and how the political and social powers in the UK and Europe changed over time and I anticipated more of this. I was certainly not prepared for how skillfully the author wove a tapestry of family relationships over such a long period of time and such dramatic changes to society. At the end, I was thrilled the author introduced a descendant from one of the group who left for the New World just after the American Revolution. To connect with name recognition to a distant relative was a tad contrived, but I was pleased that loose end was tied up. I also appreciated the contrasting view points of both these characters (and likely the author himself)... i.e. Salisbury being like a museum (stagnant) and the perception of fighting for the past vs. acknowledging and celebrating the fluidity of change. The irony of these view points was not lost on me and it certainly cuts both ways.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Zimmerman Maryland, USA 08-23-13
    R. Zimmerman Maryland, USA 08-23-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Sexism, thy name is Rutherfurd"

    While the storyline was compelling over all, and the writing adequate, I returned Sarum because of Rutherfurd's one-dimentional and out-dated depiction of ancient women. It is obvious to me that he wrote his novel after having read the opinions of older male scholars. For example, when he writes about the creation of a goddess figurine, he minimizes the power of the sacred feminine in ancient societies, and reduces the figure to a personal fetish representing one woman in the life of its creator. Perhaps he should have read the work of Maria Gimbutas before writing Sarum. Of even greater concern are the accounts of the sexual debasement of women written with such apparent relish. There are enough stories about the degradation of women in the news that I will not pay to fill my head with the same. Perhaps Audible has a reading of a book on the life of the ancient warrior queen Boedicea . . .

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Abramson MA United States 06-17-12
    C. Abramson MA United States 06-17-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    95
    11
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    "I wanted to like this series--got bogged in Pt 1"

    A friend recommended this series, knowing I loved Frank Delaney's IRELAND - A NOVEL.

    But two things have me bogged down in Part 1: (1) the narrator, whose voice is fine for other things, plods along without much variety in tone, (2) the fictional assumptions and trite story of pre-historical England just don't work for me. The characters aren't alive for me--or interesting. No new material is presented. Not that I expected surprises, just that I thought there would be more than I've gotten from a zillion other sources before, like: could there would be more archeological information to it than the surface assumptions about those early inhabitants that are already all over popular media? Is there really no more to learn about those early people? Are they really so simple as to be "not like us?"
    For me, good historical fiction bridges that particular gap--relating to real people we could know.

    My friend says to stick with it, that following the genetic group that the "prehistory" part begins with becomes more interesting later on. I might just skip ahead, as I just can't plod along with the pre-Arthurian Brits!

    The narrator is, IMHO, the wrong one for this series. Perhaps the series itself is why she didn't put the early part over so far as I was concerned, though.

    If you buy this series, prepare yourself to slog through it until it gets interesting along the way in this LONG series--and like I will, hope that happens! .

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julia Fairmont, NE, United States 09-28-11
    Julia Fairmont, NE, United States 09-28-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    "Can't finish this book!"

    This was a book I looked forward to eagerly and was dissappointed in the plodding nature of the story. When just getting to know a character and liking or hating them, you are thrown hundreds of years into the future. This goes on again and again. I won't even bother to download the remainder of the story as I have given up on it entirely.

    6 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Billie P. Sessions California 04-30-14
    Billie P. Sessions California 04-30-14 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
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    13
    4
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    "Hoping for more . . ."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I loved Rutherford's New York: The Novel, so I thought this would be as good. Not so much. I did enjoy the history aspect, but he bit off WAY too much. I only slightly exaggerate, that he started at the 'beginning of time' and worked forward. Obviously, the story had to make jumps, in his effort to leave a thread in the genealogy - but too big o'jumps and keeping track of how a surname would change through eons of time was tough. I applaud his efforts, but unless you LOVE history, which I do - you will not make it through this HUGE book. I did make it - and . . . . glad I did, but . . . wouldn't especially recommend it.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Edward Rutherfurd again?

    Yes - I own Paris and I am hoping it is better. I will take it on after I let a few more books float under my bridge. Need a break from the history and need to get rid of some Sarum cobwebs.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    It was okay. About right I guess. But . . . wow - what a looooooooong recording session. This guy deserves a longevity award!


    Did Sarum inspire you to do anything?

    Ha! It has not taken away my desire for a long trip to Great Britain!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cindy Charlotte, NC, United States 04-24-14
    Cindy Charlotte, NC, United States 04-24-14 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    176
    5
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    0
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    "couldn't finish it."

    This book was neither purely historical or purely novel, with neither having enough "umph" to keep me interested. I stuck with it until the middle of part 3, sure that it would get better, but, just more of the same.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joan Rice, VA, United States 04-21-14
    Joan Rice, VA, United States 04-21-14 Member Since 2001

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
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    43
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    3
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    "Had to quit on the 4th download"

    Why I listened as long as I did is my fault!! I should have thrown in the towel on the first download and saved myself a lot of aggravation. There are so many characters in this book and such a long span of time that it became nearly impossible to keep track of the details. And the details I did retain we meaningless. There little of any emotion in this book - a little misery, a little self-satisfaction but very little else. None of the characters stood out from the others. This is a long, dreary, dull book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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