Welcome to my monthly post on all things historical fiction. For the last few months, I have been looking at the work of some of my favourite historical fiction authors; having previously featured Elizabeth Chadwick and Anya Seton, this month it’s the turn of a very different author: Edward Rutherfurd.
Edward Rutherfurd is the pseudonym of Francis Edward Wintle, born in Salisbury, England in 1948. His first novel, Sarum, was published in 1987, and since then he has written seven others, with a new one expected in 2019. Rutherfurd’s novels all follow a very similar format; they each tell the story of several families who live in one particular country, city or region over a period of many years. Sarum, for example, is set in and around the city of Salisbury; it begins in prehistoric times, then moves forward a few generations with each chapter, bringing us right up to the 1980s, and in this way, we watch the entire history of the city (and of England) unfold. His most recent book, Paris, is slightly different from the others as instead of moving forward chronologically in time, the narrative jumps backwards and forwards from one century to another, and although I didn’t find this as effective it did make a change!
As you can imagine, covering so much history means Rutherfurd’s novels are very long – most of them have around 1,000 pages, which I’m sure will put a lot of people off reading them. However, the way in which they are structured makes each novel feel almost like a collection of interrelated short stories, so once you start to read they are not quite as daunting as they seem! I have read all of his novels and own all of them apart from New York, which I borrowed from the library and didn’t like enough to want to buy my own copy.
Of these, my favourites are Sarum, Russka and the two books set in Ireland. His new book, which I think should be coming next year, is apparently going to be about the history of China and I’m sure it will be another fascinating read.
You can find out more about Edward Rutherfurd and his work at his official website.
I will be looking at another historical fiction author in next month’s post, but for now:
Have you read any of Edward Rutherfurd’s novels? Which are your favourites?