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Tapestry Paperback – 21 May 2013

3.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Reality Street (21 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1874400628
  • ISBN-13: 978-1874400622
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 491,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone with the vaguest interest in the Norman Conquest will love this imaginative 'take' on the events of the second half of the eleventh century. It isn't a reference work, it is a work of fiction, but it is so easy to weave these short stories, into the accepted facts of the actual events. The Conquest is woven through with half truths, and opinion, some things we will never know, and Philip Terry trades on this. The three possible stories of the disappearance of Harold, after the Battle of Hastings, are a case in point. I am not an historian, though I do have an amateur passion for the subject of 'The Normans'. There is, I would guess, no proof positive, whatsoever, of Harold's fate, let alone the manner of his death, so to read Gunnrid the Grinder's (I'll leave it to you to find out how a nun gained that nickname) account of his life, 'incognito', after the battle is entertaining, and imaginative, rather than educational. The language of the book is mystical, and, initially, difficult to read fluently. Once you recognise the rhythms, and cadences, it becomes easier, and is a successful way to transport the ordinary reader back into Anglo-Saxon England.
Anyone fortunate enough to get to Bayeux on a quiet day, with this book, will never look at the tapestry, particularly the fantastical creatures, and allusions, in the same light again. A good read"
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Format: Paperback
To use the style of English this book offers us, I pytched itte across the room for the seycond tyme at p. 28, for I was sore enragd and my five-fingeres would not holde it for oon moore minute. I don’t think I have ever lost patience with a novel with quite such alacrity.

The story – about the women who stitched the Bayeux Tapestry – sounded as if it should be a good one. It’s clearly a bolde experyment, hence the faux-Middle English in which it is written. This grated a little, but I could have overlooked it had it not been intercut, on just about every page, by jarring modern idiom (sprung a leak… go about thyr business… did the penny finally drop). I’m sure it was being done on purpose, as part of the bolde experyment, because the author was quite clearly too skilled to do it by mistake, but I didn’t last long enough to work out what that purpose was.

I gritted my teeth when a city’s worth of people took to the forest to live up in the trees and jumped from bough to bough like monkeys: I don’t read books which advertise their magical realism for the very good reason that I can’t stand magical realism. In that jarring modern idiom, it does my head in. If you are going to write fantasy, write fantasy: that’s fine. Magical realism falls with a mighty crash between two stools, and I don’t like falling down there with it.

Our magical realist narrator was living in the trees, and discovering the joys of birdsong. We were clearly supposed to be impressed by her (I think it was) knowledge of the greenewoode, wherein woodpeckers bark. Um, no, they don’t. They cackle, or they drum. Also in the greenewoode sang the skylark.
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Format: Paperback
This fictional account of the nuns who embroidered the Bayeux Tapestry is annoyingly written in some pseudo Anglo-Saxon which also encapsulates a twenty first century idiom. Once you get past that, though calling hands five-fingers all through is very irritating and unlikely, the stories are quite inventive. It's no page turner, but quietly holds your attention.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this for a friend for Christmas (from her wish list) and she was really happy with it. It is written in a modern/mock form of old English which makes it a little more interesting than other books.
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Format: Paperback
I have to explain something before I jump in to things – I score my ratings based on how readable a book is, and this one was damn near impossible to get through. That’s not because it’s badly-written – in fact, it’s incredibly well-written, but the language is tough because it’s written according to the dialect of a time when a bunch of nuns were working on the Bayeux Tapestry.

Confused? Let me give you an example of the writing: “Sche arrives during the niht, between the hours of matins and lauds… and quickly the rumour spreads from lit to lit lyk wild-fyr: Aelfgyva has come home!” It’s a bit like reading Trainspotting, you have to use your brain to understand what’s happening – that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you should prepare yourself and bear this in mind before you start.

Once you get past the language, which is deliberate and one of the delights of Terry’s work once you get in to it, it’s actually quite an enjoyable read – another great example of Reality Street publishing innovative work. But the problem with being innovative is that it’s not always guaranteed to make you appealing to everyone – if you get a copy of this and you really love books then stick at it, it’s a long old read but it’s well worth it in the end.
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