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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

"The fall of Troy" by Peter Ackroyd

Ackroyd is a prolific and talented writer of many works of fiction and many non-fiction books. Here are some that I have read, with links if they have been reviewed on this blog.

  • Hawksmoor: stunningly brilliant; spooky; dark
  • The Last testament of Oscar Wilde
  • Chatterton: flitting in between London 1770 and London 1856 this is a thoroughly enjoyable read about reality and forgery, plagiarism and originality, truth and lies
  • The House of Doctor Dee: a timeshifting novel that didn't quite work for me
  • Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem
  • The Lambs of London: very enjoyable with some beautifully subtle dialogue
  • The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein: an interesting conceit but rather heavy going though with a nice twist at the end.
  • Milton in America: a strange but fun account of the great man travelling.

Non fiction:
  • Thames: an immense tome: great as reference but not to read (there are several pages just listing all the St Mary's churches on the banks of the Thames!)
  • Dickens: a superb biography
  • Blake: an immensely thorough yet at the same time readable and indeed enjoyable biography
  • Chaucer
  • Wilkie Collins: a brilliant bijou biography
  • Newton

The central character of this novel.is Herr Oberman, a famous archaeologist who has made a fortune as a merchant and now is spending it on his passion, trying to prove that the site he is excavating is Homeric Troy. But his methods allow for no alternative interpretations of the evidence and if you doubt his word, even when it is evident that he is lying, things happen. Thus, when an American archaeologist disputes his dating and attacks his methods the man sickens and dies and his body is disposed of without investigation. And when an English paleographer discovers inscriptions that prove that the inhabitants of this city wrote in a pre-Greek script the young man is in peril.

A bit of a slow burner. The character of Oberman, a compelling and dangerous fantasist, drives the story. As it progresses he dominates more and more. He even browbeats the authorities into accepting as unfortunate a suspicious death. Soon we are convinced that anyone who stands in the way of his monomaniacal vision of the truth will be destroyed. And so by the end of this book I was hooked by the incredibly exciting question of whether Oberman's young wife, the protagonist, would be killed by this man who was being revealed as a psychopath. Intrigue at the start turned into unputdownability.

Some great lines:

  • "What is truth?
    • I can't answer that. But I do know what is false." (p 84)
  • "The universe is a chameleon?" (p 135)

Brilliant and, by the end, a real page-turner. January 2018; 215 pages

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