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Archive: Other Books > A Burnable Book - Holsinger - 3.5 stars

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message 1: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 3065 comments A Burnable Book (John Gower, #1) by Bruce Holsinger
A Burnable Book - Holsinger
Audio performance by Simon Vance
3.5 stars

This was an ambitious, convoluted, medieval mystery. It’s a story of a seditious book and the spies and spymasters of Richard’s London court in 1385. Among the gentry of the court are Geoffrey Chaucer and his fellow poet John Gower. Naturally, poetry does not provide a sustainable income. Chaucer is employed in the King’s custom house; a convenient cover for other activities. John Gower deals in information and secrets. Gower is tasked with finding the missing treasonous book.

Early in the story, the book falls into the hands of a London prostitute. A large part of the plot centers on the lives of the hardworking inhabitants of Gropecunt Lane. Three whores, two sisters and a transvestite, are trapped in the treasonous plans of the book’s original owners. They know too much. Their lives are in danger. But, is it possible that they might still make a profit from the sale of the book? They are likable characters and the fact that they are constantly in danger creates suspense and keeps the pages turning.

Holsinger paints a picture of great political corruption. And, given the occupation of several main characters, the story is raunchy, to say the least. This is not a Brother Cadfael story. I did not feel that the descriptions of the lives of London’s medieval prostitutes was gratuitous, but I did find it tedious and unpleasant. Edgar/Eleanor Rykener was possibly the most likable character of the story, but the number of times he/she stole clothing to change his/her appearance and gender was distracting. Once would have been enough to make a point of his precarious position in life. I do appreciate that Holsinger allowed at least some of his most desperately vulnerable characters a moderately happy ending.


message 2: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6684 comments I had fun reading this but it didn't stay with me.


message 3: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 3065 comments It wasn't badly written, but you're right, I don't think it will stay with me. The book was too short for the number of complications in the plot. However, I'm not sure I would have been interested if it was longer. It's a series, I think. There's at least one more book.


message 4: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6684 comments Jgrace wrote: "It's a series, I think. There's at least one more book. ."

So far only one more which I have also read and remember little about.


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