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The Walled Orchard Paperback – 5 Apr 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (5 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349114528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349114521
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 536,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Read THE WALLED ORCHARD so you can tell your descendants, "I was there when the historical novel started holding its head up with the rest of literature" (THE WASHINGTON POST)

Witty, ironic... and achieved a deeply felt authenticity. (THE NEW YORK TIMES)

This book is a hilarious yet well-researached historical novel. (HISTORICAL NOVEL REVIEW)

** 'Out of his own playful erudition, Tom Holt creates an unforgettable narrator, a wise and caustic commentator on the golden age of Athens (WATERSTONES BOOKS QUARTERLY)

Book Description

Witty, ironic ... and achieves a deeply felt authenticity' NEW YORK TIMES

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
Holt seems to have a very real talent as an historical novelist - his academic background makes it seem likely that he will continue to set his works in Greece, but he certainly does its people and its civilization justice. Rather than the noble, upstanding ideal worshipped by the early Victorians, Holt paints a picture of what it was probably really like, especially for a struggling comic poet trying to make a name against rivals like the ubiquitous Aristophanes.
Holt makes the men of the moment, like Pericles and Socrates, really come alive, complete with all their flaws and idiosyncracies. The political corruption and self-serving nature of the Athenian polis really jumps out at the reader. The comic wit of the narrator, Eupolis, keeps the plot motoring along, to the extent that the reader wants to know less about the great drama of the Peloponnesian War being waged outside the protection of the Long Walls, and more about the gossip and scandals of the Athens Eupolis and Aristophanes write about in their plays.
The great tragedy of the war, and the foolishness of an imperial power that fails to recognise its own limitations, are handled admirably, including the confusion and herd mentality still seen in international politics today.
With writers like Holt around, Ancient Greece can rest assured that it will continue to be well-represented in the historical fiction market for some time to come.
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Format: Paperback
I have read a lot of Tom Holt, and this book is a departure from his usual style. His normal comedic works are quirky, and full of strange ideas that sometimes work, and sometimes don't.
The Walled Orchard is another beast altogether. It starts out as a interesting dialogue with the principal character, and turns into one of the most personal narratives I have ever read. The main character, Eupolis, narrates his life and times to you without pretensions. He rambles at some points, jokes at others, but at all times has you enthralled at his description of Athenian life.
I feel that in reading this book, I came to make a friend of Eupolis. His life has not been a happy one, but as one of the great comic playwrights, he has the ability to the humout in the deepest tragedies a person could endure. If you want to see a weekend fly by as you live through the eyes of one of Athens' greatest comics, this is the book for you.
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Format: Paperback
When one thinks of the glories of Ancient Greece - the sculpture, the architecture, the plays, the philosophers, the beginnings of democracy - one is really thinking of Athens in the middle third of the fifth century BC. For that brief period it had it all. It also had an urge to build an overseas empire and a degree of self confidence that led it into a long conflict, the Peloponnesian War, with its chief rival, the militaristic state of Sparta. After more than two decades of struggle Athens, despite its glory and confidence, went down to defeat. Greece would never be the same again.
There have been books about the long tragedy of the Peloponnesian War before - one thinks particularly of Mary Renault's moving "The Last of the Wine", but none quite like this. Tom Holt combines knowledge, imagination, and wit in the story of Eupolis, a lad who lives through the tragedies to become famous as a writer of comedies. To call his life eventful is an understatement, and just as the war provides the backdrop, so his ongoing rivalry with the even more noted playwright Aristophanes provides a thread running through the story and the occasion for much of the humour. Holt manages to handle the balance between the funny and the tragic very well, and he brings Eupolis and his times to life. "The Walled Orchard" is one of the best books on this key period in history that I have read.
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Format: Paperback
There are many ways to understand in detail the history and everyday life in classical ancient Athens. Tom Holt provides one of the best , through wit, sarcasm and intrigue . Classical history of the 5th century becomes alive and easily understood through the life and adventures of Evpolis, a historical figure of a successful comedy writer, whose plays unfortunately are lost - much the delight , one can assume, of Aristophanes, his bitter theatrical rival .Highly recommended not only to anyone interested in that period, but anyone curious on how our strange and wondrous political system of Democracy worked in its birthplace of Athens and in our modern societies. A description not idealized as we were taught about it in school, but complete with all of its disastrous shortcomings that plague Democracy to our days and contributed to the fall of Athens.
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Format: Paperback
If you like Tom Holt's comic fantasies you'll probably buy this book, but if you don't, then buy it anyway. This isn't the flip, clever but often rather puerile Holt of "Odds and Gods" or even "Expecting Someone Taller"; this is something else. Sure, it's funny - but there's a darkness in the humour that makes the transition into the starkest tragedy almost unnoticeable. Maybe Holt's greatest achievement is to make you laugh at jokes that I can well believe an Athenian living in 400 BC might have appreciated, even though by our lights they should seem downright callous - and on the next page make you want to weep. I don't know of another historical novelist who can manage to make his character's sensibilities at once so accessible and so convincingly alien to the way modern people are supposed to feel. The real Eupolis (and there was a real Eupolis, incidentally) might or might not not have found himself in this book, but I don't find it hard to believe he would have found his fellow Athenians here, and had a good laugh at them (especially Aristophanes the son of Phillip).
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