Monday, September 06, 2010

Book Review: "The Clerkenwell Tales"

I find that I'm working my way through the Peter Ackroyd corpus this year, and the latest to find its way to the top of the pile is The Clerkenwell Tales (Anchor, 2004). In the form of a send-up to Chaucer, Ackroyd has appropriated the well-known characters from the Canterbury Tales, given them identities and backstories, and put them to use here (one chapter is told from the perspective of each character).

The plot here is something like a political thriller set in London at the very end of the fourteenth century, during the turmoils at the end of the reign of Richard II. Secret societies, obscure religious sects, raving nuns, and the intrigues of London life are the stuff of Ackroyd's story, which is well-padded with fascinating historical details. But for all that, the book never quite managed to get off the ground for me. I liked it just fine, but I don't think it's going to be a book that sticks with me.

No comments: