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In a novel of extraordinary richness the whole sweep of British civilisation unfolds through the story of one place, Salisbury, from beyond recorded time to the present day. The landscape - as old as time itself - shapes the destinies of the five families. The Wilsons and the Shockleys, locked in a cycle of revenge and rivalry for more than 400 years. The Masons, who pour their inspired love of stone into the creation of Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral. The Porters, descended from a young Roman soldier in exile. And the aristocratic Norman Godefrois, who will fall to the very bottom of the social ladder before their fortunes revive.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099527305
ISBN-10: 0099527308
Format: Paperback
(178mm x 110mm x 58mm)
Pages: 1376
Imprint: Arrow Books Ltd
Publisher: Cornerstone
Publish Date: 4-Jun-1992
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


UK Kirkus Review » Mammoth, sweeping (7500 BC to World War II) story of the English city of Salisbury, its environs and its people, told through the experiences of five rival families. From the ice-age to the present day, Rutherford's scope is vast. Both historical novel and adventure epic, this is a work of universal appeal. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A first novel and 10,000-year history of England from Ice Age to present, tracing five fictional families from caveman antecedents to their present incarnations, and set in Sarum (an old name for Salisbury). Hwll the caveman, in search of the better life, leaves his polar icecap with wife and family for warmer climes and ends up in Sarum, where he competes well and flourishes. His descendants become the Porters and Wilsons, while those of his bested rival, Tep, become the Forests. Another line, founded by Nooma the mason (architect of Stonehenge), becomes the Masons, who marry descendants of Aelfwald the Dane (Shockleys), who in turn marry into the final, Godfrey, family (descended from medieval knight Richard de Godefroi). Moving quickly along to King Arthur's court, to the plague years, to the machinations of the Tudors, to the exploration of the New World, to the Revolutionary, First and Second World Wars. . . A little bust carved by Hwll is found by Nooma; the sword used by a Celtic chieftain is inherited by a Roman governor; and implements such as these, rife with portent, hold this vast fabric together as we move on to a modern Shockley (an Aelfwald descendant), in love with a modern Godfrey (a Godefroi descandant), who is robbed by a youthfully prankish Tep-descendant named John Wilson while the city of Salisbury celebrates its glorious past. The writing has an elegant simplicity that moves this bulky narrative along without too much artifice: its pace is somewhat slowed by the constant switches in scene-and-century, but, all in all, a fulsome and entertaining saga. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Edward Rutherfurd

Edward Rutherfurd was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and educated at Cambridge University and Stanford University in California. His first book, Sarum was based on the history of Salisbury. London, Russka and The Forest, all draw on finely researched details of social history. Edward Rutherford previously lived in London and New York City but has had a home in Dublin for more than twelve years. He has two children. Edward Rutherfurd is available for interview.

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