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Wordsmith's Tale, The: Special Edition Hardcover – 10 Jun 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Beautiful Books; First Edition edition (10 Jun. 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1908238526
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908238528
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,497,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Surging, powerful and highly readable. It's ambitious, often witty, earthy and even meaty, rich in detail. Above all, I'd say, Stephen Edden has a fine ear for the cadences of speech. The whole book is exceptionally well-written.' --Kevin-Crossley Holland, author of The Seeing Stone and translator of Beowulf

The Wordsmith's Tale... is about the origins of our collective imagination. It's an eccentric and highly entertaining history lesson, and also a compelling attempt to show the crucible of the British collective unconscious; the origins of stories that have lasted more than 1000 years. -- The Times

About the Author

Stephen Edden carefully researched the background for his first novel, The Wordsmith's Tale, to ensure the authenticity of the setting. James Campbell, editor of The Anglo Saxons (Penguin History), has said: 'I have never read a novel quite like this. A remarkable, unusual, imaginative creation.' Stephen lives in Nottingham.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Firstly, this doesn't fit the usual definition of "Historical Fiction". How do I describe it? The writing intrigues you from the beginning and then soon tightens its grip on you, so that after about fifty pages, you can't bear to put it down. As you progress, it just gets better and better. It brings to life the awful realities of Anglo Saxon serfdom and Norman oppression, but it does it in a frequently witty way(increasingly so as the book progresses), mainly through the banter between the characters. The novel is shot through with humanity. So much so that some of the most unseemly characters are also strangely appealing (eg Gross the cook, the Reeve and Mule).
Within the first page we get a taste of what's to come: a whistle that can conjure memories, a foray into Old English and a gag about Old Mother Hubbard and her dog. That playfulness with words, history, fairy tales, etc runs through the whole, but NEVER intrudes on the story. Not to my mind, anyway. I don't want to put readers off by intellectualising, because Stephen Edden has an easy, readable style, but it's a thought-provoking novel. It's a novel about Anglo-Saxon life OR it's a novel about the importance of stories and language OR it's a novel about the triumph of love over hardship OR it's a celebration of the Old English language and its alliterative poetry. Maybe it's all of those. I don't know. But I do know that I loved it!
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Format: Paperback
If you like historical novels, you'll love The Wordsmith's Tale. If you don't, then this is the novel that will change your mind. While it's meticulously researched, the real delight is in the sheer quality of the writing and of the unexpected twists of the story. It's the kind of book that makes you almost desperate to find out what the next page will bring. The book brings alive the intensely troubled, harsh and cruel period around the time of the Conquest: you feel as if you're living the day-to-day existence that must have been the lot of the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of that era. The writing encompasses a range that is by turn heartbreaking, hilarious, earthy, tender, while at all times being wonderfully readable. This is one of those books that makes you feel richer for having read it. I, for one, am really glad I bought this book.
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Format: Paperback
I wouldn't consider myself a very big reader, let alone a fan of historical novels, however I found The Wordsmith's Tale compelling. If you're browsing the reviews having read few or not any historical books, don't think this is just factual and unapproachable: Stephen Edden mixes fiction with real events, as well as myths, making this quite reachable, whilst including lots of well-researched historical references at the same time. The story is written from the point of view of Thomas The Piper, who recounts how his family have lived, died, loved, laughed and fought through difficult times. Furthermore, by telling the story in this way, I was left with a very personal feel!
I enjoyed how much the author familiarised me with the characters and the era, despite how long ago the events took place. For example in the author's note, Stephen Edden states he wanted to use Old English Phraseology wherever possible. I found this very interesting and I think without realising, you are taken back to Anglo-Saxon England and become strangely fond of the characters despite their frank bad habits and hygiene etc, demonstrating how well the author has researched this period of history.
In my opinion the worst kind of book is one that leaves you feeling very little afterwards - The Wordsmith's Tale certainly is not one of these. I would definitely agree with feeling 'richer' for having read it; for me it appeals to everyone's secret ideals - living life to the fullest with every twist and turn whilst appreciating life's simple but important pleasures: family, love and nature.
I have thoroughly enjoyed Stephen Edden's novel and would recommend it to anyone, even if you aren't familiar with this period of history or have never read a historical book!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully crafted novel which is just astonishing for a first book. From the very first paragraph, which is so wonderfully written that it makes you want to read it out loud, it draws you in to share the lives of the characters and to become one with them. The book takes you in a circular fashion through 100 years in the lives of a family. My knowledge of history this ancient is inadequate to comment on its authenticity but it feels very realistic and must have been very well researched. I, for one, can't wait for the publication of the next book by Stephen Edden.Wordsmith's Tale, The
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has been a great pleasure to read - written by a true Wordsmith! It is beautifully written and a real page-turner, set in late Anglo-Saxon England, covering the events surrounding a family over a period of one hundred years. Their stories are told in a fast-paced and easy-to-read style where not a word is wasted. Lives, both long and sometimes very brief, are painted in a colourful and often witty style with aside comments from Thomas the Piper who is the storyteller throughout. Even the less appealing characters are engaging. The main protagonists of the different periods and their interlinking narratives with their dramas of survival, love and loss stayed with me well after I finished this book. The only regret I had was finishing the book. The hope that I have is that there will be a sequel or a series!
CM
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