On Hist Fic Saturday
Let's go back to ....Dorset, 1348
|Allen & Unwin|
2 November 2017
My thanks to the publishers for my review copy of this book
Sometimes, even before opening a book, I get the impression that it's going to be rather special. In the case of The Last Hours, I was excited long before I ever saw a finished copy, because the book is written by one of my favourite authors who, in this latest book, her first for ten years, has taken a completely different direction from the crime genre which is usually associated with her fine writing.
The Last Hours takes us back to the dark world of fourteenth century England. It’s the year of our Lord 1348, and for those souls who live and work on the estate of Develish in Dorset, life is about to change forever. When news of a deadly pestilence reaches the estate, the lady of the manor, Anne Develish, needs to take control of those whose lives are in her care. Lady Anne makes the momentous decision to quarantine the estate in the hope of quelling the speed of the infection. However, her choice to raise one of the serfs to the lofty position of her steward is met with mutterings of discontent amongst the rest of the community. The courageous decision to isolate the estate has far reaching consequences, not just for the two hundred bonded serfs who call Develish their home, but also on the wider community whose fate becomes intermingled with that of Develish.
What then follows is an atmospheric and skilfully told story, which brings to vibrant life the medieval world. The petty jealousies and suspicion shown by the serfs of Develish towards their new steward manifests itself in rumours of doubt and mistrust towards the Lady Anne who only wants to ensure their survival.
The book is quite stark in places and perhaps, at times feels a little bit slow, but I think this only adds to the overall feeling of impending doom. A sensation which is evoked with such realism that I felt like I was a privileged time traveller who was being allowed to sit quietly in the shadows, watching in fascinated horror as the drama unfolded. So convincing is the narrative that you really can see, feel, and hear everything that goes on and never for one moment do you doubt that you are witnessing at first hand the horror of a plague ridden land.
Beautifully recreating the medieval world with all its dark and dangerous corners, The Last Hours, is a story which, if the ending is anything to go by, is by no means finished, and I look forward, with great excitement, to the next instalment.
You can find out more about the author on her website