Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lambs of London

I'm working my way through the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, and I try to come up with some innovative ways to get through it. This includes one book from every decade, ten books from ten different countries, books starting with different letters of the alphabet, etc. One of those ways is to read the first five books on the list by authors whose last name starts with A. Hence, Lambs of London by Peter Ackroyd. For those of you who might be wondering, this is the 145th book I've read on the list.

Lambs of London is a fun romp through late 18th-century London in search of lost Shakespeare notes, papers, poems, seals, and plays. The Lambs of the title are Charles and Mary Lamb, famous for Tales from Shakespeare. They meet William Ireland, who lures Charles into his father's antiquarian book shop with a book that was once owned by Shakespeare. William has found a secret stash of Shakespeare curiosities, including some deeds, a will, a love letter, and eventually a lost poem and play. Or did he really "find" them?

Ackroyd, in his disclaimer, is clear that he has taken liberty with the Lamb family story. Mary really did kill her mother with a kitchen knife, but Charles died before she did (it is depicted in the novel that she died first).

This book was a light-hearted, easy read - and very enjoyable. I don't typically read this type of novel - I'm much more interested in the dark stuff, and when I do venture out of my "comfort zone," I am usually disappointed. So, I crawl back into my hole of melancholy literature. But this one was well written and just plain fun to read. I good break from Nostromo. Definately recommended.


Anonymous said...

My introduction to Peter Ackroyd was through his novella "The Plato Papers". I was so pleasantly amazed that I sought other books by him. That's when I found that he is best known as a Historian and his fiction has done done quite well in the market. However, I still attempted some of them, but nothing compared to Plato Papers and i could not finish any other.

I cannot recommend Plato Papers urgently enough. It is a masterpiece lying there with no takers. You will love it.

Kristin said...

I will have to look into The Plato Papers. The description on amazon looks really interesting. I enjoyed "Lambs of London." It wasn't anything deep or difficult to get through, but it was really good reading.