Adam's Reviews > Sarum: The Novel of England

Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd
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bookshelves: historical-fiction

This was recommended to me by another Goodreads member who read my review on Fall of Giants and suggested I should check out Sarum since I like historical fiction. All in all, it is an enjoyable read, even for all 1000+ pages. The book tells the history of Salisbury-and by extension England in general. It starts at the beginning, I mean the very very beginning and goes up through 1985. The book attempts to follow several families and their descendancy from the first nomadic settlers who wandered in to the spot where the five rivers meet in Old Sarum (Salisbury).

The one place this book definitely suffers is that it feels a little bit like reading Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Edward Rutherford keeps dropping the reader in at various critical points in history for 20-40 pages before moving on to the next phone booth stop. Since there are so many critical points in the history of England, it takes 1000 pages in 40 page increments to tell the story. However, the result can often leave you wondering just who is related to whom. I recommend if you read this one, to just ignore the family ties that the book tries to create as a vehicle for the story, and just concentrate on reading it for each individual time period. Kind of like a miniseries. Without as much detail. Still, if you liked Pillars of the Earth or similar stories, you'll probably stick with this one too.
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Reading Progress

April 24, 2011 – Shelved
Started Reading
May 19, 2011 – Finished Reading
September 19, 2011 – Shelved as: historical-fiction

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Tom (new)

Tom I read Sarum a long time ago but remember thinking similarly. Good read and interesting stuff about Stonehenge (albeit mostly guesswork) and Salisbury cathedral which really is a fantastic place. However I did find it overly contrived in the way the plot tried to maintain a character thread through all the different time periods. Apparently his book on London where he does a similar thing is meant to be good but I haven't read it yet.


Jason I totally agree Tom. I believe that the determined continuation of the character thread and the lack of interaction between fictional and historical characters was Sarum's downfall. I would have easily given it 4 stars if not for those two issues. It was still quite enjoyable at times, but not consistently enough to warrant over 3 stars for me...


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