The Lambs Of London Paperback – 4 Aug 2005
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"As always, Ackroyd brings the bustle, stench and hazards of nineteenth-century London vividly to life and keeps readers on their toes until the final page" (Daily Mail)
"A marvellously adroit tale" (Penelope Lively Independent)
"Energetic and clever... The Lambs of London ingeniously combines two fact-based narratives and transforms them into a detective-cum-love story" (Daily Telegraph)
"Historically animated and emotionally fervent. Ackroyd turns the past into a private phantasmagoria of loving fakes and pungent terrors" (Observer)
"Clever, subtle and touching, often funny and always highly intelligent. A modern novel that requires a second reading - one which will be even more enjoyable and rewarding than the first" (Scotsman)
'A delicious entertainment... Ackroyd's latest foray into bygone London finds him at the top of his form' Sunday TelegraphSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Not only these three principal characters but also the novel's minor characters (Charles' and Mary's parents, William's father, ...) are all beautifully depicted, with their (secret) dreams, hopes and desires leading them on until there's no turning back...
I loved it from the first page to the last.
Taking two great writers seems an assured way to achieve success but to add another guarantees a good tale. Two Lambs and a Shakespeare.
In a world he knows so well, he tells a very enjoyable and interesting story in the understated style he uses so well.
The Lambs of London is a well-crafted novel, interweaving fiction and literary history deftly. It concerns the infamous 'discovery' of Vortigern, one of Shakespeare's lost plays, by William Ireland, a precocious teenage forger, and Ireland's relationship with siblings Charles and Mary Lamb, two amateur Shakespeare scholars. It evokes London at the beginnings of the Romantic period with accuracy and feeling, and, crucially, it sends us back to Shakespeare with rekindled enthusiasm. By no means a two-star novel.
In a note at the beginning Peter Ackroyd gives fair warning that `This is not a biography but a work of fiction. I have invented characters, and changed the life of the Lamb family for the sake of the larger narrative.' I do not myself object to fictionalized biography so long as it credibly fills in details of speech or incident, does not depart too far from what is known, and does not deliberately contradict what actually happened. Ackroyd credibly invents speech and the incidents of daily life; but in the depiction of the relationship between Mary Lamb (whose life is well documented) and William Henry Ireland (ditto) he invents a connection for which there is no historical warrant; and in the case of the Shakespearian scholar Edmond Malone and in the dates he gives he runs directly counter to the known facts. This may not trouble most readers; but it irritated me and considerably reduced my appreciation of what is a well-told tale, with the atmosphere and the literary scene of late 18th century London being knowledgeably conveyed with Ackroyd's usual skill and light touch.
The novel gives us a good picture of the principal characters: of Mary Lamb and her brother Charles; of their parents; and of William Ireland and his father Samuel, a bookseller and collector of historical memorabilia. Mary is very close to Charles; she is at times mentally disturbed, and is driven mad by having to attend on her old father, who has lost his mind and whose talk is completely inconsequential, and on her controlling old mother.Read more ›
Although the Lambs and Ireland never actually had any dealings with one another, this makes for a great read that really transports you back to London of that era.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Peter Ackroyd is a most wonderful storyteller. So far, I've just loved every one of his books which I've read! Read morePublished on 20 Aug. 2013 by missusjazz
Have not read it yet, for book group in Autumn. But, as always, received promptly and in good condition, as usual.Published on 18 July 2013 by Book Club/General Gifts
Very interesting book set in old London. Enjoyed it, got book club chatting about lots of interesting facts of London generally.Published on 9 Dec. 2012 by Pixie
I must say I was rather disappointed by this book! I adored Ackroyd's book 'Chatterton', and see it as one of the best books I've ever read, so I was excited to see that there were... Read morePublished on 22 May 2010 by Larewen Evenstar
A wonderfully colourful story based around a famous forgery of alleged works by Shakespeare. Ackroyd describes London scenes and characters as only he can and this is an absolute... Read morePublished on 12 Feb. 2009 by John Hopper