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.
“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)
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.
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.
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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.
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).
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.
Yes, for people who relish extremely, well-researched historical fiction.
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!
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.
There were many...
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.
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 . . .
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! .
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.
What can I say? It seemed long at times, but I enjoyed thoroughly many of the time periods. Others have spoken of the sounds from the narrator, which could be distracting. There's nothing quite like an Edward Rutherfurd book to give you a window into a different time period.
I loved New York by Rutherfurd and this book fell well short of that for me. Perhaps it's because as an American I identified more with New York and had a deeper interest in the history. However, I do think this was a harder "read" in that the story spans such a long time and so many families and characters. It's still a very interesting book that shed light on a lot of England's long and fascinating history for me. You may want to have another book that you listen to, as I did, during this one so that you can step back and take a breather.
Not recommended reading for entertainment. Not bad if you want a history lesson - 30 hours on the history of one city in England. No charactor developement. McCaddon may do better with some material to work with.
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