Few places in England are more resonant, more mysterious yet more friendly than the huge forest that lies by England's southern coast, that provided hunting for England's Saxon and Norman kings, and whose ancient oaks were used to build Nelson's navy.Today, the area is one of the most visited beauty spots in Britain, but the forest has always been ...
Few places in England are more resonant, more mysterious yet more friendly than the huge forest that lies by England's southern coast, that provided hunting for England's Saxon and Norman kings, and whose ancient oaks were used to build Nelson's navy.Today, the area is one of the most visited beauty spots in Britain, but the forest has always been busy. In medieval days, the religious houses of Christchurch and Beaulieu were important places; after the Reformation numerous gentry built houses and parks in the forest; the shipbuilding industry turned Lymington into a popular home for naval officers and an eighteenth century spa to rival Bath (Jane Austen lived only twenty-five miles north of the forest).But the character of the forest has always remained ancient and mysterious. Deer, even wild pigs, still roam there as they have since time immemorial. Its place names are Saxon and evocative - Brockenhurst, Hatchet Moor, Godwinescroft. Witchcraft is still, without the slightest question, prevalent within the forest. And the oaks, the great oaks of England, are everywhere to be seen. Forest and sea: there is no more perfect English heartland.
Publishers Weekly, 2000-02-21 Charting an entire millennium in his newest saga, Rutherfurd continues to pursue?in meandering prose and at tedious length?his fascination with nugatory events in English history, picking up loose threads from his sprawling bestselling novels London and Sarum. In this volume he expands his Chaucerian tapestry to include the chivalrous past of the storied New Forest bordering the south coast near the Isle of Wight. Beginning in 1099, the story is divided into seven uneven parts: "The Hunt," "Beaulieu," "Lymington," "The Armada Tree," "Alice," "Albion Park" and "Pride of the Forest." Intermingling real and fictional characters, the narrative traces the lineage of several families, mostly unknown outside rarified circles of Anglophiliacs. A segment that opens with a romantic version of the death of Rufus, son of William the Conqueror, in which he is shot by a wayward hunting arrow from the bow of Walter Tyrrell, introduces a Druid-like presence in the character of Puckle, a gnarled old man who darkly personifies the Forest. The introduction of other characters is similarly quixotic. Following a droll chapter on the ill-fated Spanish Armada, the next segment dramatizes the beheading of Alice Lisle for her role in the 1685 Monmouth uprising, and there is a mention of Leonard Hoar, an infamous early president of Harvard. Though the geographic landscape is rich, Rutherfurd rarely generates enough focus and excitement to sustain interest in the mundane anecdotes he strings together, and longwinded passages of exposition and description overwhelm his ambitious narrative. $300,000 ad/promo. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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