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Sarum Kindle Edition
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The author's real name is stated to be Francis Edward Wintle (year of birth 1948). The novel has a short chapter, The Spire, subtitled April 1985, an account of money-raising for the spire. Possibly this suggested the project. Or perhaps a book, Endless Street, published in 1983, by Dr John Chandler, which Wintle says was his 'constant companion'. Incidentally, Wintle is listed in an online Jewish surname index.
Sarum has about 20 chapters; an average of about two weeks per chapter, if the author's claim to have spent over three years on writing it is true. All the acknowledgements are to museum curators and other specialists in English and ecclesiastical history. There are no historical, aristocratic, or military sources credited. The history in fact is entirely official history, and therefore of course biased by Jewish outlooks. I only became aware of this on plodding through the book, picking up clues for example when reading about Edward's expulsion of Jews, and Cromwell's payment to infiltrate them back.
Sarum was a New York Times fast seller, and certainly it passes the Jew filter tests. The acknowledgements include an agent, and two editors ('Rosie Cheetham of Century Hutchinson and Betty Praksher of Crown Publishers').
The entire novel is embedded in world affairs, generally Europe, but only in a shallow manner, as in a newspaper aimed at simpletons, or a light history book, with events strung out like beads along time's string--Roman province; Alfred in a walk-on part; war between Britain and the the USA after its declaration, then the Reform Bills. Most chapters are structured around a principal event, fleshed out with generally accepted backdrops, such as new printed books. This often leads to odd disproportions: the Black Death (half the population dead?) followed by excitement over for cloth output. (I suspect Wintle/Rutherfurd may have studied the wool industry--fruit and veg, salt, horses and transport, buildings and water, inventions and science, are samples of very much under-represented activities). The chapters have a feel resembling the BBC series Blackadder, with a set of similar characters reappearing in different times: maybe it reflects a Jewish attitude to 'goyim'--Curtis, Robinson, Fry, Elton and no doubt others thinking they are Jews. Each chapter may have been assembled in isolation. Or for that matter by a set of authors working to instruction, just as soap operas are assembled from a plot-line issued by a producer or writer, then fleshed out as from card index notes by a number of hacks. This is a convincing idea, but there is evidence against this: Rutherfurd is dealing with the 'English Civil War' more than three-quarters through the book, suggesting an enthusiast who was reined in--the final chapters being skeletal with almost nothing on both the First and Second World Wars. My copy appears to be a first edition; subsequent versions may have incorporated more material.
The repetitive simple descriptions in each of the chapters certainly feel like production-line jobs. Characters with blue eyes, red hair, and a fiery disposition repeatedly pop up. Others with deformities, prehensile toes, a creepy and secretive types, recur, as do characters with a large round head, pointed nose, craft skills, a small body, and stubby fingers. Mostly it's written in standardised interchangeable simple English, plus some technical terms. There is some concession to eras, but not much; I'm tempted to compare it with Star Wars simple dialogue. So I seriously suspect this is a group writing effort, written to order. Each chapter perhaps following period feature insertions (clothes, famous writers, new inventions, changes in religion, alleged Jewish misfortunes) and passage-of-time landmarks, such as weathered buildings, disused sites, evidence of buried ruins such as a Roman road or remains of a villa. Scene-setting includes topographical descriptions, all of which seem to be taken from maps. Even from high British hilltops it is difficult to identify remote features with any reliability, such is the foreshortening. The 'five rivers' meme seems inaccurate to me.
The jacket blurb provides an authoritative summary of the 'families': Tep is the prehistoric outcast, with prehensile toes, and narrow face 'like a rat' who becomes the Wilsons. (This seems to be an often-adopted surname by Jews). Nooma, the architect of stonehenge (the format dictates single experts, not groups of them) later emerges as Osmund, sculptor of much of the Cathedral interior, with a large round head, stumpy fingers, and inelegant small body. Porteus is a 'Roman in exile': the emphasis on the Sarum area inevitably forces a theme of failed ambition and life in a backwater. The Shockleys descend from Saxon thanes (or thegns): red hair, gold hair, carroty hair, blond and blonde hair, plus blue or violet eyes, and an unruly temperament, are the handy markers. And we have Godfreys, who came with with William the Conqueror from Normandy. The latter three don't seem to need a prehistoric background.
On the positive site, the book gives a potted history of a part of England. The negative side is all the misleading material: Charles Kingsley, on Cardinal Newman, inclined to suspect Newman of inserting 'one single passing hint ... one little barbed arrow which, as he swept magnificently past on the stream of his calm eloquence, seemingly unconscious of all presences, save those unseen, he delivered unheeded, as with his finger-tip, to the very heart of an initiated hearer, never to be withdrawn again.' Rutherfurd's Sarum delivers quivers of such arrows. The view of Englishmen, saturated with Jewish corruption, a view held by many Europeans and white south Africans, is completely absent here.
The series of books is worth reading only by people trying to unpick Jewish infiltration, and looking for a comprehensive series of Jewish-assembled views of the world.
- My favourite thing about the book was the way the families lives interweaved, and how their fortunes rose and fell. Also the little mentions of character or physical traits, passed down the generations were, although slightly implausible after thousands of years, a nice reminder back to the first chapter and how everyone in the area is descended from the three characters that first appear. It made me wonder if all my great-great whoevers had hair that was impossible to control too...
- I enjoyed the realism. In fact hardly anyone lives happily ever after, and even if they do its only after overcoming serious problems! This is what real life was like unfortunately and it's refreshing to find a historical novel that doesn't shy away from the non-glamourous, unsexy reality.
- I'm a heritage student so I'm much more interested in how people lived rather then learning dates and politics, so this book was enjoyable in that sense as I loved following how events that I knew about from history affected the fictitious (and no doubt real) people of Sarum. I'm also obviously keen on preserving the past, so I felt a real (albeit slightly odd and embarrassing) tug of the heartstrings when things that were so important to people were forgotten about by their descendants, such as old Godfroi's mizmaze in this book. The bittersweet similarities between past and future are also surprisingly moving.
However this is as far as it goes when it comes to the book moving me as a reader. The characters and some of the chapters were rather uninspiring, which brings me on to the negatives.
- Ok so I'm very impressed that someone even thought of attempting to cover so great a timescale in one novel, but it does have it's drawbacks. By the end, the male members of the families (as there aren't many female protagonists) have all sort of blended into each other - the descriptions are simple, 'he had blonde hair and blue eyes' for example. Not helpful when the previous two male characters from this family also had 'blonde hair and blue eyes' and seemingly nothing else. This made it hard to come up with clear images of individuals and I was often left trying to remember who belonged to which time. The personalities aren't exactly thrilling either - Rutherfurd has clearly sacrificed human empathy for historical accuracy. Sure it's nice to learn about history but sometimes you feel like you're being lectured at and actually reading a non-fiction historical account. Surprisingly the chapters concerning the periods of history I knew least about and was less interested in I ended up enjoying more as these periods are less documented factually so Rutherfurd could concentrate on characters and description more. I admit I skim-read quite a few sections of the later chapters so I could get back to the people. Leading me on to my next point...
- By the time you get back to the people, the chapter ends - just as their story was starting to get interesting. You're then whizzed on a few generations with no explanation or conclusion - annoying! The chapters are basically short stories concerning one generation each, which doesn't make for a smooth read. The writing style is... varied for want of a better word. It's basic and not exactly sparkling but does the job. Some chapters are great and contain truly epic moments. But at the very end, where you'd expect the most moving, memorable, EPIC moment/image that will stay with you forever, of all, you get... well I won't ruin it for you but it's naff. The whole story has built up to this final moment, all 10,000 years of the areas history, and it really is a cop out. I don't know whether Rutherford was going for 'subtle' but he ended up with 'oh is that it?'
- I'm not exactly an ardent feminist, but you can really tell that this book was written by a man. I know, I know, for thousands of years women were viewed as inferior to men, but the constant references to men 'taking their women,' thinking of their 'hard young bodies'... yeah yeah we get it. It gets slightly better when we move forward in time, but even then the female characters are either pointless and boring or seemingly only described as how good they'd be in bed. The only female character that has a happy ending is, tellingly, a prostitute!
- Finally a tip for Kindle users. Do not, repeat, DO NOT BUY THIS AS A KINDLE EDITION. At the front of the book are maps of the area and family trees (which I found crucial to keep up with the story sometimes as there are so many characters and you forget who hates who and who is the grandfather of so and so etc. etc.) which if you had the paperback would be easier to flick to if you wanted, and not interrupt your reading much at all. However on the Kindle you need to go through all this faff - press menu, press go to, press contents, highlight maps or family tree, have a look to remind yourself (trust me you'll need to), go back to the page you were on - oh but wait, due to the formatting the page number you had to remember and type in to return to it has changed and you've gone 'back' to a completely different part of the book! Plus when you get to the family tree you can't zoom in so unless you hold the thing up to your eye and look like a complete numpty on the train like I did you can't see a thing. Part of it is cut off too. This is on the old 3G Kindle, so I can imagine on the new model without the keyboard its even more fiddly to get to. I do love my Kindle as it's a great space-saver, but for this book I wish I'd just got a nice shiny traditional paperback!
So that's it - a well-intentioned book with some great moments, but far too many flaws to make it the classic or masterpiece which I'd heard it was. I will read it again, but not anytime soon - I'm a fast reader, but this took me a month, and it really does require your attention, it's not a 'light' read. I think those of us that make it to the end should get some sort of prize to make up for the truly disappointing ending after all our effort!!
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