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First Light (Abacus Books) [Paperback]

Peter Ackroyd
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 April 1990 Abacus Books
Written by the author of "Hawksmoor", winner of the Whitbread Prize for Fiction, and "Chatterton", this is a pastoral novel of the late 20th century in which the author meditates on the nature of history, the problem of time and the true qualities of the English landscape.

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New edition edition (5 April 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349101329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349101323
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 752,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Ackroyd is the author of biographies of Dickens, Blake and Thomas More and of the acclaimed non-fiction bestsellers London: The Biography and Thames: Sacred River. Peter Ackroyd is an award-winning novelist, as well as a broadcaster, biographer, poet and historian. He has won the Whitbread Biography Award, the Royal Society of Literature's William Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award and the South Bank Prize for Literature. He holds a CBE for services to literature.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Immature light comedy 8 July 2010
I've long enjoyed Peter Ackroyd's work - he has a talent for well researched, atmospheric, intriguing historical novels. Not here. Ackroyd displays limited knowledge of the key themes of the work: for instance, in astronomy you can't declare a star was 'in the east 3000 years ago' when the world spins every 24 hours and there are other clumsy errors which an editor should have noted. Such technical niggles might be ignored if the rest was up to scratch, but there is instead a vaguely mystical message about time with a supporting cast of dubiously comic characters (two butch lesbians, a gay antique dealer, yokels, new age feminists). I persevered but it was an effort. Was this an juvenile work released on the back of his later reputation?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What on earth? 26 Feb 2009
This is the only one of Peter Ackroyd's novels that I have read and I found it disappointing. The characters are caricatures, from the farmer and his sagely simple son to the unconvincingly ignorant and unsympathetic Lesbian from The Ministry. The metaphysical aspects are vague and inconsistent, the relevance of the star Aldebaran (a name given to it by Arabic speakers, of whom there were precious few in Bronze Age Britain) to the "Old Barren One" forced beyond reason. If you want satirical bucolic lampoon, Stella Gibbons did it far better in "Cold Comfort Farm". The skeleton of a much better novel lies within these pages; a shame that Ackroyd perhaps did not have the time or the vision to produce it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Passes the time 18 July 2013
By Peasant TOP 500 REVIEWER
We expect a lot from the man who wrote 'Hawksmoor' and 'London, A Biography'. We expect, in fact, a lot better then this. If this were a first novel by an unknown writer, I suspect it would have sunk without a trace. It is reasonably entertaining in a pot-boiler sort of way, but it is severely below par for the master.

The characters vary, and some are caricatures; others fail to round out into real people. The research is lacking. If you are going to set a book in a particular expert field - a field in which there are a lot of very well-read and interested amateurs - you had better get it right. No-one knows better than Ackroyd how to bring a world to life, to pull us into the spell of time and place, but here he stumbles. Dorset is never conjured up in the smoky reality which London assumes beneath his pen (OK, word processor) and the description of Neolithic archaeology and archaeologists is embarassingly inept. One comes across so many howlers before one is far into the text that archaeology buffs had better leave this one severely alone. Probably astronomy buffs, too. Not a subject I know much about, but even I know that a light year is a measure of distance, not time.

Curiously enough, this isn't the first time I've seen an author come severely a cropper using archaeology as a setting. This is odd, because unlike some expert fields, there is an awful lot of popularised stuff out there, easily accessible. An author doesn't have to spend weeks in the British Museum library, they just have to turn on a television. Ackroyd should have known that many of his readers, lured to the book by a setting they were interested in, would be in a good position to know whether he'd got it right. Was this arrogance or just sloppiness?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very good 8 Oct 2007
By Didier TOP 500 REVIEWER
Contrary to many others books by Peter Ackroyd this one isn't set in London, but that doesn't diminish its merits in the least. If you've read and liked other books by Peter Ackroyd, or if you like intelligent historical novels in general you can't go wrong with this one.

Ackroyd is a master at creating a mood of suspense and untold secrets, the book is driven on by a very-well crafted plot, and peopled by captivating characters. Very very good!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The novel with everything 28 July 2005
This book has everything: comedy, drama, mystery, love, ghosts, madness, tragedy, brilliant characters, many separate but interwoven stories, plus a philosophical/emotional investigation into the beginning and end of the universe, time, death and the star dust we're all made of. Compassionate, funny, brilliant.
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