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The Maid of Buttermere Paperback – 1 Jan 1993
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Melvyn Bragg's highly-acclaimed bestselling historical novel, the story behind one of the 19th century's greatest scandals.
About the Author
Melvyn Bragg is a writer and broadcaster. His novels include The Hired Man, for which he won the Time/Life Silver Pen Award, Without a City Wall, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, The Soldier's Return, winner of the WHSmith Literary Award, A Son of War and Crossing the Lines, both of which were longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, A Place in England, which was longlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize, and most recently Grace and Mary. He has also written several works of non-fiction, including The Book of Books about the King James Bible. He lives in London and Cumbria.
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Top customer reviews
Lord Bragg weaves a sensative and absorbing novel arround the events of the late 18th century concerning a publicans daughter and shepherdess of such renowned beauty that she became a tourist attraction. A con-man sets eyes on her and instantly drops his plans, in an advance stage of preparation, to marry a rich heiress, and bigamously weds the fair maid of Buttermere.
The con-man is later hanged for his crimes.
Lord Bragg creates a facinating schizophrenic character for the villain of the book for whome, in spite of his many sins, one end up with feeling of sympathy.
I was recommended to read this by my mother and I'm very glad I did. I just wish I was on holiday in the Lake District whilst I was reading it - but that's no reason to put the book to one side until you do go to the Lakes. I'm sure that a physical link to the land would benefit the reader substantially but it isn't essential.
I don't want to give anything about the story away except that it's a love story based in the 19th Century located in the Lake District.
I suggest you forget what you read on the dust jacket if you can and don't read any other reviews until you've read the book.
It is slightly difficult to read because Melvyn only let us have the back-story on a "need to know" basis but that kept me guessing and I enjoyed it in a perverse kind of way. If you've already read all the reviews and the dust jacket the mystery is lessened as is the experience.
I found it an excellent book in that the character of the protagonist was complex and multi-dimensional. He was a product of his life - neither fully good nor fully bad. A real person, in fact.
Gradually revealing more about Hatfield through the course of the story gives a great sense of mystery and leads us to an emotional, tragic ending. There are some good plot twists along the way and the novel is peopled by great characters who are vivid and give a great sense of the time and place.
As well as using the Lake District as its backdrop the novel also uses it for social comment, giving the piece a great richness. Observations on the area as an industrial one provides an interesting flip side to the image of the Lake District (both at that time and now) as a place of tranquillity and natural beauty unspoilt by human hands.
A pretty substantial read but defintely worth it.
The story is an adventure with an added romance, which is slow to unfold. Mr Bragg cleverly introduces characters into the melting pot, whose importance in the tale only becomes apparent near the conclusion.
A perfect draw for tourists to the beautiful tranquility of Buttermere, where the Fish Hotel which centres in the story still exists.
The book also includes action set in the Morecambe Bay Sands, Keswick, Carlisle and Gretna Green, and jumps to more southern cities too.
It was my introduction to Bragg, and led me to read more of his work.
An admirable Cumbrian certainly, and a memorable book.