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)
Well, I love all the audiobooks I've listened to - if I don't, I just return it using Audible.com's amazingly generous return policy. But this is my second book by Mr. Rutherford (first being about New York) and I love his writing and detail. Yes, some of the vignettes start and are not followed through to completion, but this is not a collection of short stories. It's historical fiction and the fact that he drops off in one year and picks up a century or two later is part of the fun to me. I especially love the way that he continues the thread of a few families through history and inserts little events that casually draw you back to the ancestors of the family.One of the odd pleasures, to me, of listening to a book that is rich with a lot of detail, like Sarum, is that I am prevented from paging back and trying to re-learn every detail of that person. I don't know about you, but I guess I'm OCDC enough that I can't quit looking back and forth in a written book because I have to visualize the whole history and don't want to "miss" a detail - which makes it take about twice as long for me to get through a long history. With the spoken word, I just listen carefully and back up a minute or two if I get distracted while I'm listening. Missing tiny details doesn't bother me so much because I'm soon engrossed in the current section and they become inconsequential.On the whole, I would highly recommend this book (especially Wanda McCaddon, who has her own section below).
New York: The Novel (also by Edward Rutherfurd)
Can't imagine a better reader - she was just wonderful.
Well, it would be impossible for me, but it is definitely hard to quit listening.
If you think you just don't like history, give one of Edward Rutherfurd's books a try. I intend to listen to more books by him and also more read by Ms. McFaddon.
Over the span of 10,000 years, the author tells the story of the development of civilization in what is now Salisbury, Engand from the time of the British Isle's continental drift from mainland Europe until 1985. Each time period focusses on the day to day life of a few main characters and their descendents as they appear in the centuries that follow. We see first through the eyes of hunters and gatherers, primitive farmers, ancient Celtic chiefs, craftsmen and druids. Then come occupying Roman soldiers, Saxons, Normans, Medieval stone masons, knights and priests. Next we get to know some Elizabethan lords and ladies, Redcoats for the British Empire, and Gentlefolk and farmers during the Industrial Revolution. Finally, the story leads us to military men and women serving during World Wars I and II, and at last to modern day descendents is 1985. All along the way, different characters, hunt, explore, farm, build better homes and devices to make their lives easier, seek meaning from gods and goddesses, express themselves through small works and giant monuments, fall in love, have sex, fight, kill, and make peace. I care more about the historical events as they unfold because I care about the people I have come to know who are a part of them. That is what makes historical fiction so enjoyable. Besides getting to know these characters, it is very intriguing to follow the author's imaginative accounts of the building of the two most enduring structures of the region, Stonehenge and the Salisbury Cathedral. Getting to know the people who built them, and seeing these structures used, abused, modified and revered over the centuries makes them seem like so much more than just a strange group of scattered giant stones or another old English church.
About two thirds into this story I was starting to get very annoyed with the author for portraying most of the women in the book as minor, oppressed characters. The women did start to become stronger as time went on, but I still grew inpatient. One of my favorite women characters was Margaret Shockley, an English lady who lived during the English Civil War of the 1640's. She was left in charge of the family farm estate after the death of her father, as well as in charge of her youngest brother. She also mediated between two of her other brothers who held positions on opposite sides of the war and another brother who was a Puritan. The two brothers who fought in the war die, and the Puritan brother wants to take over guardianship of the youngest brother from Margaret, but Margaret outsmarts him and finds a way to prevent this. The Puritan brother seeks revenge by framing Margaret as a witch, and almost succeeds in having her sent to trial. If she had burned, I would have quit reading the book. Fortunately, she doesn't, thanks to the wits and strength of character of her youngest brother, and the women characters even get stronger from this time period on. It's worth finishing the book.
I enjoyed the narrator's proper British accent, matter-of-fact tone, and mild characterizations. Nothing was too over the top, which could have gotten really annoying, considering the length of this story.
Audible make my long commute so enjoyable! I love historical fiction, Nora Roberts, and any science related audibles (not enough of those).
yes, it gives you the feeling of being there so many years back!
I love James Michener, and John Jakes which I wish I could find on Audible...but this at that level!
I like the beginning the best... I loved it!
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 . . .
NOTE: I'm NOT finished reading this book so a review isn't exactly fair, but I'm using my review to determine if I'm actually going to finish this book or not. Granted, I could probably just write down my thoughts in my own private journal, but A. I do not have a journal, I have Facebook, and B. Why not work out my own stuff for the whole world to see? That's just my twisted philosophy.
I want to love this book. I really do. I love all things Great Britain, and when I saw this book spanning 20,000 years of my favorite topic, SCORE, right? Well, maybe not so much. I came into this book knowing that I might fall in love with characters only to have my hopes dashed to the ground when moving on to the next era...I got that going in. And I also get that we are going to move pretty quickly from generation to generation. I prepared myself for that. We have a LOT of centuries to get through. Heh. All this said, I'm in the era of Portius, and honestly asking myself, can I really listen to Wanda McCaddon slog through this?
DETOUR--->I'm also listening to Wanda read A Distant Mirror--The Calamitous 14th Century, and I want to poke my own eyeballs out hearing her crazy-making voice. At the end of each sentence, I find myself leaning forward...are we at the end of a paragrap? Concluding a chapter? Is there a break between ideas? Alas, no. 'tis only Wanda swallowing before her next fricking sentence. Wanda McCaddon, I adore your accent and your enthusiasm, but I cannot abide your reading style. Continuity and fluidity are your friends. Get to know them.
BACK ON TRACK---> A the end of the day, I don't think my resistance to listening to Sarum is Wanda's voice...I can live with it. Look, I have raised step-kids for 17 years who have a mom crazier than a ___house rat, so I can put up with dang near anything. I just don't know if I have the stamina to hang with Rutherfurd through all the centuries. I'm falling in love with and getting invested in...well, I would write the names, but since I'm LISTENING to this story I have no idea how to spell any of them, but you get my point...we then jump the track and fall in love and/or hate a whole new batch of characters. Um, I should add that I just finished Pillars for the second time and have read World Without End, so there's my bias. See? There's a reason for everything. When Pillars was over I cried for a week. Yes. I am that unstable.
However...I am intrigued by Rutherfurd's take on the history of England. Yes, I get that it is fiction, I GET it, but still. I'm fascinated by how it might have all gone down, and I'm finding myself pretty excited about getting into the Tudor era, even though I know it will only last five minutes.
So, all this said, I will slog on. I do a lot of driving for my work and do a lot of walking for my sanity, so I believe I'm going to finish this book. I'm committed. But I'm not saying I'm going to be happy about it. And I don't know what the heck I'm going to do about A Distant Mirror. She's way worse listening to on that book. But that's a review for a different day.
This book was so long and boring it took me a while to listen to it. No real story here to bring it all together.
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