The Clerkenwell Tales

The Clerkenwell Tales

by Peter Ackroyd
4.1 6

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Clerkenwell Tales 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
It's tempting to award Ackroyd 5 stars for sheer inventiveness, but his erudition is a bit too instrusive. He borrows Chaucer's characters and narrative format to craft a tale of religious/political terrorism that is eerily like the stories making today's newspaper headlines -- a stroke of creative genius. But he is also determined to impress us with how much he knows about medieval history. Does your vocabulary include words such as manciple, Lollard, imposthume, coillons, ear-pickers, chantry, franklin, geomancer, voiders, rood, mercer, scabbadoes, and fistulas? If it does, congratulations, you are more the historian than most of us. Ackroyd could have included a glossary, but then this would have been more like a history textbook than the cerebral novel he wants it to be. This is not to say that his portrayal of London in 1399 is prissy. Bodily functions and colorful curses abound. In all likelihood this book is unlike anything you have read in long while. I recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first book I read by P.A. was the biography of Thomas More which I enjoyed very much. Since I am addicted to medieval mysteries, I decided to read some of his fiction. I read ELIZABETH CREE and then THE CLERKENWELL TALES. He certainly gives the reader much more than the mystery. His picture of England in the Middle Ages, particularly London, is so graphic and thorough one wonders if he's making it all up. One learns from this scholarly author all about history (kings in conflict with one another over the throne), the role of the Church, food and drink, clothing, punishment of criminals, medical practices, superstitions, sanitation (or the lack of it), etc. I can just imagine what his book,LONDON: THE BIOGRAPHY is like. I think my ambivalence stems, not from his skill as a writer, but from his depiction of place and time. Even though I like reading about the Middle Ages, I can't help feeling upset about the characters and situations. I'm glad I live now, but I know that what went on then is going on right here and now in our world. Maybe I'll just stick to the biographies (like CHAUCER) although I know I'll still encounter the difficulties and problems inherent in the times. THE CLERKENWELL TALES was unsettling because of the machinations of some of the characters in the Church (William Exmewe, for instance.) The Nun of Clerkenwell is a puzzling character, but she's typical of what the author does. He makes one wonder. I think I chose to read the TALES because I wanted to meet once again the pilgrims I encountered when I read THE CANTERBURY TALES. Not surprisingly, what Ackroyd does with them is very clever.