The makings of a good voice I wanted to be immersed than I was Another thing that impeded my pleasure was the over intrusive nature of some of the parallels Harvey would like to have us make with modern Britain Thinking about the British Isles elation with Europe meaning continental Europe not a usage anyone in this period would have Sisi: Empress on Her Own recognized Reve muses Only somebody with a mind like aock could go on with the idea that we on our little island are separate from those others Our little land is flecked with foreignness the Lord wants our colourful mingling It is bad
enough having to live with in Drina Dances in Italy reality without having toelive it having live with Brexit in The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity reality without having toelive it fifteenth century proxy formMy patience was already The Life of Samuel Johnson running thin because of this but Harvey s tricksy temporal structure we go backwards in time across four days finished this novel for me and perhaps for the author too As twist piles on twist and the novel defies us to look back to the beginning and try to make sense of its narrative logic I had a feeling that Harvey was flagging as much as I was aseader Even the writing was getting laxer by the end A village of scrags and outcasts Oakham Beastville Pigtown Nobridge The village that came to no good the only village for miles around that doesn t trade wool doesn t make cloth doesn t have the skill to build a bridge Here s the village we pass by with its singing milkmaids we call it Cheesechurn Milkpasture Cowudder It s Lord is as pudgy and spineless as the cheese he makes Its people are vagrants that were ousted form their own villages and are in most Statistical Inference respects desperate Itsichest man was whisked off down the A Wizard in Love river and drowned And here is its priest young John Reveoosting in the dark For all that he s overseen by Christ he s led h I did not like what the autor made me do Read a story backwards haltingly with uite a bit of effort trying to keep people and stories apart Trying to make sense of what happened trying to figure out a plot that was not unfolding itself before my eyes but had to be searched and dug for like a hidden core or nugget of wisdom Against the grain against the flow even against my will as it were albeit the story is finely executed alive with fully drawn characters especially its narrator and giving deep insights into medieval thinking The Western Wind simply did not do it for me I do not care for open endings and do not like that I have had me I do not care for open endings and do not like that I have had ead a whole book only to be left in the end ie beginning with a lot of unanswerable uestions of a mainly spiritual nature Samantha Harvey writes a fascinatingly complex intricate challenging and multilayered medieval historical mystery set in the 15th century in the tiny isolated and impoverished village of Oakham in Somerset It is 1491 and the prominent wealthy Thomas Newman a man of ideas is dead in the iver although it is not clear whether it is a case of accident murder or suicide John Reve is the local priest knew Newman well and is tasked by. Many secrets in his ole as confessor But will he be able to unravel what happened to the victim Thomas Newman the wealthiest most capable and industrious man in the village And what will happen if he can’tMoving back in time towards the moment of Thomas Newm. You know when you enjoy a book so much you want it to last as long as it can This is what I felt with The Western Wind Narrated by the wonderful Priest John Reve we follow a medieval hamlet and it s in habitants after the death of one of their Presidential Secrecy and the Law richest members of their community backwards Now this is a mystery but not a page turning one it s a look at the intricacies and uirks mainly through their confessions to John that makes you put the pieces of their lives and where they intersect and intertwine together showing many a subtle secret but could any of them be the cause of murder Subtle genius Thoughts soon Maybe 45 stars Ieally enjoyed this one a brilliant historical fiction with a Separated By Duty, United In Love really interesting structure it works backwards in time The explorations of morality andeligion were very well done as are each of the characters I would highly Hume on Religion recommend This was my first look at the novelist whom Gaby Wood the Booker Prize Foundation s literary director somewhatashly labeled this generation s Virginia Woolf I wasn t particularly convinced although Samantha Harvey s writing is certainly well crafted stylistically as one might hope from someone who earns her living as a writing tutor she teaches on an MA program in Creative Writing at Bath SpaAlthough The Western Wind is set in late fifteenth century Somerset Harvey isn t a habitu of historical fiction In an interview I Master Plots: Race and the Founding of an American Literature, 1787-1845 read she talks of having happened on her historical setting by accident led by the theme she wanted to explore that of confession The chief character of the book is the parish priest of the hapless village of Oakham about to be swallowed up for its pasture lands by a hungry monastery nearby Shortly before Lent in 1491 the wealthiest man in the village vanishes overnight presumed drowned and the local dean sent in to investigate the possible murder incentivizes every parishioner to confessI am probably not the idealeader for this kind of uncommitted historical novel which wanders into its historical setting novel which wanders into its historical setting the spirit of a tourist takes a few selfies and gets out There are many historical solecisms Harvey has her priest protagonist John Reve City Schools: Lessons from New York relish his modish new confessional box on the Italian model disregarding the fact that confessional boxes weren t introduced for another seventy years and Italy as a unified entity barely existed outside the pages of Ptolemy at this time We also hear of people being avid for sugar in their tea in the 1490s when tea is firstecorded in England in around 1650 More problematically Harvey portrays a priest who seems unaware of the theological status of suicide in this period
As A Mortal Sin a mortal sin lapses grated on me as did the similarly anachronistic feel of some of the language feisty indeed I found myself constantly propelled out of the narrative as a esult into some tetchy pedantic place outside it That was a shame since Reve is an engaging and nuanced character initially and he has many of. 15th century Oakham in Somerset; a tiny village cut off by a big iver with no bridge When a man is swept away by the iver in the early hours of Shrove Saturday an explanation has to be found accident suicide or murder The village priest John Reve is privy to. ,
His superior the Dean to find and punish who murdered Newman whose death must be explained The Dean is a man who has his own agenda and Reve is an overburdened self eflective and self doubting man a mass of compellingly contradictory human ualities compassion intelligence selfish empathetic and yet unreliable and The narrative circles back in time in structure BEGINNING IN THE PRESENT AND GOING BACK THROUGH THE in the present and going back through the days Reve investigates through the form of the confession from his villagers at the confession boxIt is chillingly cold both in terms of weather and the economic challenges that Oakham s people face they hope for a bridge to offer them a way out of the fear insecurity and frustrations they face Nearby monks are eyeing the place for takeover with plans for a abbey and the flourishing sugar and wool trade is bypassing the village Reve is a man they believe in a man of eligion and influence which might seem strange as Reve is poor and barely able to
help himself as he asks them to pray for a western wind Hehimself as he asks them to pray for a western wind He the mystery by listening to the confessions presented with a host of suspects that include a local landowner and a woman who just might be seeking a way out of her suffering Superstitions and the pagan still have a hold on the villagers along with their seasonal ituals as the narrative delivers its twists and evealsHarvey excels in her characterisation particularly that of Reve and in evoking the primal atmosphere and flavour of this historical period her descriptions are ich in Reve and in evoking the primal atmosphere and flavour of this historical period her descriptions are Elephant Slaves and Pampered Parrots: Exotic Animals in Eighteenth-Century Paris rich in and her vibrant prose is often so beautifully lyrical in her portrayal of everyday life It must be noted many of the historical details are not accurate but for me this didn t affect my enjoyment of this wonderfully enticingead that I found an immersive and thought provoking experience Readers who love historical fiction or who have a love of the medieval period will enjoy The American Academic Profession: Transformation in Contemporary Higher Education reading this Many thanks to Random House Vintage for an ARC I thought I had the measure of this book early on but it kept getting better More intricate and profound A strange omission from prize lists for me A uiet serious story set in 1491 the year Henry VIII was born of conscience guilt desire and the struggles betweeneligion and superstition the body and flesh Harvey sets her tale in the The Rise and Fall of the Biopsychosocial Model: Reconciling Art and Science in Psychiatry run up to Lent and tells it through the voice of a village priest and confessor privy to the secrets of his congregation but keeping his own to the last With the machinations of church men and the shade of the nearby monastery foreshadowing events we know will come in the next 40 or so years this is aware of history in a subtle way Controlled careful writing keeps thisestrained and internally focused Thanks to Random HouseVintage for an ARC via NetGalley An amazing 15th century whodunnit that is so atmospheric that you can t put it down Beautiful language intrigue and unusual chronology all these kept me The Arena: An Offering to Contemporary Monasticism reading nearly non stop. An’s death the story iselated by Reve – an extraordinary creation a patient shepherd to his wayward flock and a man with secrets of his own to keep Through his eyes and his indelible voice Harvey creates a medieval world entirely tangible in its immediacy.