In Chaucer's People, Liza Picard guides us through the tumultuous world of the late 14th century in an ingenious, informative and entertaining way.
Through the assorted cast of pilgrims Chaucer selected for The Canterbury Tales, Picard brings medieval social history to life and uncovers the detail behind Chaucer's poetic portraits. These are the lives lived beyond the court circles frequented by most of his well-heeled audience. Drawing on contemporary experiences of a vast range of subjects including war, trade, religion, plague and banking, Liza Picard recreates the medieval world in all its glorious detail.
Chaucer chose his pilgrims carefully. He sometimes raises a thought-provoking query in an apparently simple portrait. The Prioress was a sweet, pretty, well-mannered young nun; what was she doing on the road to Canterbury with a mixed band of men instead of staying in her convent to pray? The Knight was 'a very perfect gentle knight'; but why had his military service landed him in such distant places as Lithuania and Spain? By providing these characters with a three-dimensional framework - the times in which they lived - Liza Picard opens up the 14th century world to us.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
This wonderful book takes all of Chaucer's main characters lives as its main thread and then delves that little further into their daily interactions, decisions and thoughts. Picard places each of Chaucer's ubiqitous characters in the broader context of Medieval England and the Medieval world in general. This allows you to understand their motives, choices and get to grips with the nuances of their characteristics that little bit better... and with a real sense of their histories being brought to life. To add to this, Picard also sets their actions against their contemporaries so we see another side to them which perhaps Chaucer chose not to inform us about as it was too obvious or he decided wasn't worth telling. This adds yet another dimension to the book that makes you want to read Chaucer's work again. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys European Medieval History in general.
If you like a narrative history about the minutia of everyday life you'll love this book; indeed, it is a history which brings its subjects to life through the exploration of 'the normal daily goings-on' that all Medieval people experienced.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
A surprise in every paragraph, bringing history to life. This book taked you on a voyage through medieval times bringing the characters to life.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
The text... an interesting idea and fairly well researched, but the personal and contemporary references were rather indulgent and quite frankly irrelevant and annoying. They seemed petty given the breadth, longevity and gravity of the work to which they tried to relate the modern world (a time without substance and depth by comparison).
As with many things “mediaeval” the period covered is a few hundred years, but so much changes in that time and things apparent in one period do not necessarily apply 150 years later, so broad generalisations ensue which is vexing.
Reading - I am afraid it was breathless and ill prepared. The reader really should have a handle on how to pronounce some of those more unusual mediaeval terms. Pity.
All in all not terrible, but one of those generalised books about the Middle Ages that has some useful detail but treats an age of man as an homogenous period. Glad it was one of my free monthly credits as I’d have been rather unimpressed if I’d paid for it.
Any additional comments?
This book was okay, but there were several historical incidents that got used to illustrate multiple points about the period. I might expect this if the book was about a specific event that there were only a limited number of sources for, but for a broad social history it seemed like the author was recycling old material. I also found the long list of medieval recipes in the middle tedious. the author does say if it's not your interest you should skip it, but I imagine that relatively few readers are going to be so interested as to trawl through a long list of recipes. This seemed to serve the authors interest rather than the general readership. But perhaps I'm wrong. I've read better social histories about the era like A Time Travellers Guide to Medieval England.
Would you try another book written by Liza Picard or narrated by Emma Spurgin Hussey?
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
Less episodic and more tied together. There was no overarching commentary on how things come together in a bigger picture then or now. Some quotes and points were repeated multiple times over the book, verbatim.
Would you listen to another book narrated by Emma Spurgin Hussey?
Could you see Chaucer's People being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?
Any additional comments?
Read Jack Weatherford instead.