Another Review at MyShelf.Com


by Alis Hawkins

      Damia Miller has been hired as marketing manager to boost the image (and empty coffers) of Kineton and Dacre College. Salster is proud to have its collection of colleges, all independent and never made into one university, but the college is all but bankrupt. A run of bad luck (rent strike, unethical backer for a sports day) is suddenly countered by the discovery of a cycle of unusual wall paintings during renovations. Damia is also keen to find out the whereabouts of a missing statue - whom did it represent? Meanwhile, back in 1385 master mason Simon of Kineton is looking forward to building his masterpiece, a controversial secular college. He is also pleased at the birth of a son after twenty years without children, but both son and college are to cause a lot of problems for a lot of people.

This is a big book, and to be fair it does contain quite a lot of story. Damia and Simon both yearn for children, but this yearning has not brought happiness. Present day Salster wants to hang on to its independent college without the meddling of businessmen or politicians, while medieval Lollards wish to break away from the church and found a secular institution. It is a book about the pros and cons of being an outsider, of standing up for what you believe in, whatever the cost. It is also highly readable, partly because of the way it is written and partly because of its timeless yet topical messages. Some of the events seem a little improbable (to mention them would spoil the plot) and some editing would not have been a bad plan as the story isnít that huge to merit nearly 600 pages. But it is an excellent first novel, and I look forward to reading more by this talented new writer.

The Book

Macmillan New Writing (Macmillan UK)
18 January 2008
General Fiction / Present Day and 1385 / London area (fictitious city)
More at US || UK

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008