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I usually wait until I have finished a novel before I blog about it, but am going to make an exception with this one.
The story is a detective one, but this is not obvious at first, plus there is no actual detective. It is set in early restoration England. The plot revolves around the death of a Robert Grove, found dead in his chambers at Oxford. The story is related by four different people who were around at the time, and as is typical when four different people are asked to relate events leading up to something like this, each person has different priorities. It becomes obvious that Robert Grove has not died a natural death, although the Warden at his Oxford college tries to have him buried before any investigation starts.

I am currently about halfway through the second account, and it is very different from the first one. Iain Pears has shown ingenuity and adaptability in telling the story from different viewpoints. This book has been one of those that I'd bought but never got around to reading, and now I'm deeply into it, am asking myself why it has taken me so long to get around to reading it. It is not a book for those who like a quick read though as it is almost 700 pages long.

Ah! and here's a link to some more information about the book.

29th March 2009.
Now I have finished the third section of the novel, and what is becoming glaringly obvious to me is the fact that all three narrators to date are possibly unreliable narrators. All three have their own agenda to follow. However, this does not distract from the novel, but enhances it. Especially as the time the novel covers must have been one of uncertainty, so it echoes the thoughts of the time.
I am still enjoying the novel, and have just started the fourth account of events. I have never read a novel in this format before, it is very intriguing, and I am guessing it is meant to leave the reader guessing which is the true account of events when they have finished reading.

4th April 2009
I finished this on Thursday. The fourth section was the same story, but also different. Told by a historian from the time, [based on an actual historical figure from the time.] If I say too much about this account it WILL spoil the book, for those of you who want to read it.
On reflection I think the book worked very well, and in my eyes it has 3 unreliable records of the events at the time and one reliable one. As I read the fourth version I saw places where the others had misconstrued the information they had. You also have to bear in mind that the fourth account is written with knowledge that two of the others do not have, and the third one of them wishes to conceal for his own purposes.
Not a quick read, as it took me around 2 and 1/2 weeks to read, and when the narrator changes it is necessary to remind yourself that you are reading an account by a different narrator. The third account did irritate me at first, as it from the viewpoint of a doctor of divinity, and in helping establish this Pears uses quite a few bible quotes, to remind the reader that this account is by a member of the clergy. Luckily once this is established the bible quotes lessen.


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