Edward Rutherfurd lives and writes in New York City. He was born in Salisbury, England, and educated in Cambridge.
As evidenced by his previous historical novels, Russka (LJ 9/1/91) and Sarum (LJ 9/15/87), Rutherfurd does not flinch at a challenge. Wrap up 2000 years in an 800-page book? No problem. This all-encompassing fictional history of London is told through the experiences of a group of diverse families who, over the generations, meet, mingle, intermarry, and feud. Beginning with prehistory and continuing to the present, Rutherfurd combines geological details, historical events, real people, and his fictional characters to bring London to life. The writing veers from the mundane to the didactic, and readers would be well advised to list the characters as they encounter them. Rutherfurd's whirlwind historical tour is an appropriate purchase for all collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/97.]‘Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle
Like his aesthetic mentor, James Michener, Rutherfurd (Russka; Sarum) takes readers from primordial days to the present; here he focuses on the last 2000 years of humanity on the island kingdom as manifested through the fortunes of seven families and one ancient, ever-evolving city. Such chapter headings as "The Tower," "Hampton Court" and "The Globe" reveal Rutherfurd's primary technique‘to create verbal dioramas that, alas, too often feel as static and didactic as museum displays. Rutherfurd lavishes his greatest attention on the minor figures in English history rather than the greats. Instead of Shakespeare there is Edmund Meredith, playwright of the middling The Blackamoor; instead of Christopher Wren, there is a cowardly, anti-papist woodcarver; and there is Isaac Fleming, creator of the wedding cake. Due to the sheer scope of Rutherfurd's vision, many signal events, such as the Black Death, are afforded only a glancing nod, while the first and final chapters read more like a mannerly BBC documentary than a proper setup for a legend on a grand scale. Rutherfurd's workmanlike narrative ultimately buckles under the weight of its own vast scale, yet readers will savor individual tidbits like the snapshot of young Geoffrey Chaucer saving an abandoned baby. Readers with imagination may even come away with the sense that great cities aren't just places but living beings with hearts and souls. Major ad/promo; BOMC main selection; simultaneous Random House audio; author tour. (June)
YA‘Certainly not for the fainthearted, this 800+ page novel on the history of London is true to the author's form. Rutherford so skillfully weaves detailed fiction and fact that YAs may have to head for the reference books to verify which is which. Basically, the story is London's evolution from a trading post to the seat of an Empire and the families who lived that history. Through the adventures and everyday lives of these characters, one can go to Shakespeare's Globe Theater, tend the plague patients with Dr. Richard Meredith, attend hangings at Newgate Prison, weep at the loss of life and limb due to "God's fire," visit the taverns with Chaucer and his pilgrims, and have other experiences in this exciting city. A special book for readers who have a burning interest in history and the stick-to-itiveness to finish and reflect on it. A perfect choice for the summer hiatus or winter holidays.‘Carol Clark, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
"A TOUR DE FORCE . . . London tracks the history of the English capital from the days of the Celts until the present time. . . . Breathtaking."--The Orlando Sentinel
"Remarkable . . . The invasion by Julius Caesar's legions in 54 B.C. . . . The rise of chivalry and the Crusades . . . The building of the Globe theatre . . . and the coming of the Industrial Revolution. . . . What a delightful way to get the feel of London and of English history. . . . We witness first-hand the lust of Henry VIII. We overhear Geoffrey Chaucer deciding to write The Canterbury Tales. . . . Each episode is a punchy tale made up of bite-size chunks ending in tiny cliffhangers."--The New York Times "Hold-your-breath suspense, buccaneering adventure, and passionate tales of love and war."--The Times (London) "Fascinating . . . A sprawling epic."--San Francisco Chronicle