This Thing Of Darkness Paperback – 16 Jan 2006
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'Adventure, discovery and a heaped spoonful of learning are all here in this highly enjoyable and rewarding read' -- David Roche, Product Director, Waterstones
Perhaps the best historical novel I have read A stunning achievement of imagination and story-telling. A masterpiece. -- Bernard Cornwell, author of The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, and the Richard Sharpe series
Packed full of action, vivid characters, ideas and explorations of science and religion, this brilliant historical novel was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2005See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It's not a dry, boring biography but completely fascinating. I was enthralled from start to finish.
This is not just a novel of ideas, but also one of action in which the narrative is driven forward by the extraordinary events experienced by the crew of the HMS Beagle. My favourite aspect of this novel is the wonderful sense of place. Apparently Harry Thompson travelled to all of the places described in this novel and it shows. His descriptions of the desolate landscape of Tierra del Fuego are incredibly evocative.
This is a wonderful novel, but don't just take my word for it. I've met several people who have read this book and they all loved it.
Altogether a great read. I could not put the book down on holiday. Friends who have also bought the book have been similarly enthused.
It was longlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize but didn’t make it to the short list. I can’t understand why. True, there’s the occasional lapse of authorial concentration. At one point a character “nearly jumps out of his skin” and elsewhere two dishevelled sailors in an elegant street “stick out like a sore thumb”. On page 110 there’s a jarring, juddering, shuddering anachronism that nearly shook me off my chair and there’s a similar one on page 580. So the blemishes I found in 610 pages can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
These isolated infelicities are far outweighed by writing which will excite and stimulate your intelligence, throw you into the middle of terrifying storms at sea, move your heart and, at times amuse you, the description of a pompous prig on page 459 is a demolition job of Austenesque wit. And if, like me, it was an interest in Darwin that brought you to the book, there’s the self-satisfaction of witnessing the early signs of features that you know already will characterise his later life and work. How, for example, youthful, athletic vigour drained into reclusive valetudinarianism and how, although convinced that “any species was re-shaped to an extraordinary degree”, it was years before he published because “how he did not know”, there seemed “no mechanism to explain it”. We are smugly aware that he is to spend the next twenty years developing the theory of natural selection to explain it.Read more ›
This is a fantastic read from start to finish. Even though the book was a long read I didn't want it to end. I learnt so much about Darwin and Captain Fitzroy and Britain at that time. The characters are so well drawn that I felt like I knew them. I experienced every joy with them and felt moved to tears by each of their tragedies.
It has also taught me a lot about the British 'discoveries' of countries around the world and what is was like for those people living there. I was fascinated to learn about peoples ideas about creation at the time. I am now going to read 'Origin of the Species' by Darwin and also try to learn more about Fitzroy - who seems to epitomise the word gentleman (from his description in the book anyway).
The biggest tragedy of all is that Harry Thompson died this year. It is such a shame as he was clearly a very talented man. I will be recommending this to everyone I know!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing Story - this book will always teach more about Darwin than any 'text book'. I loved it & thoroughly recommend it.Published 29 days ago by Elizabeth Knight
Probably the most moving and best novel I've ever read. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I have even bought copies to give to friends just because I feel so strongly... Read morePublished 1 month ago by simonthebfg
Well written and totally engaging, this tale of Darwin and Cap'n Fitzroy comes alive on every page. I can thoroughly recommend this.Published 1 month ago by lawrence_of_london
This is a very interesting read. I am only mid way through but happy to read a chapter or two before bed which gives me lots of things to think about. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dorset Lady
This was a really good adventure story and made all the more interesting because it is based on the true story of Captain FitzRoy, HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin. Read morePublished 5 months ago by fee