Sunday 1 July 2012

John Saturnall's Feast by Lawrence Norfolk - Book Review

Title: John Saturnall's Feast
Author: Lawrence Norfolk
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 13th September 2012
Pages: 412
Format: E-Book - PDF
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

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1625. In the remote village of Buckland, a mob chants of witchcraft and John Sandall and his mother are running for their lives. Taking refuge among the trees of Buccla's Wood, John's mother opens her book and begins to tell her son of an ancient Feast kept in secret down the generations. But as the rich dishes rise from the pages, the ground beneath them freezes. That winter John's mother dies.

The Feast is John's legacy. Taken as an orphan to Buckland Manor, the ancestral seat of Sir William Fremantle, John is put to work in its vast subterranean kitchens, the domain of Richard Scovell. Under the Master Cook's guidance, John climbs from the squalor of the Scullery to the great house above. There Sir William's headstrong daughter Lucretia defies her father by refusing to eat.

John's task is to tempt the girl from her fast. But as a bond forms between them, greater conflicts loom. The Civil War will throw John and Lucretia together in a passionate struggle for survival against the New Order's fanatical soldiers. Ancient legacies will pull them apart. To keep all he holds most dear, John must realise his mother's vision. He must serve the Feast.
(Goodreads Synopsis)

This was a book that I received as a review copy via NetGalley. I requested it as the blurb really grabbed me and I figured it would be a good read.

On the whole, it lived up to my expectations as the story was interesting, the characters lively and memorable and the historical detail well researched and carefully worked into the prose. I found the start of the book a tad disjointed, but soon the threads pulled together and the story progressed at a better pace.

There were just a couple of occasions when I found the character's choices unbelievable (Lucretia in particular), but overall the novel was captivating in its descriptive prose and I found myself drawn into John's world.

This book is a literary feast that will appeal to lovers of historical drama.

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