Context: Finished off in the garden of my mum’s house in Portugal.
I’d read a bit of Ackroyd’s non-fiction as well before this and know that while he can start off pretty well, he can get bogged down into the minutae of stuff that surely fascinates him but leaves the average reader cold. Was I surprised?
Well, no I wasn’t at all really.
What did I like about this? I liked the way that Ackroyd, London-phile that he is, has recreated 18th century London in such a vivid way and brought to life not just the city but the characters and the language as well.
I also liked the way the story wove the past and the present so that events that happened in the past were mirrored in many ways in contemporary events.
So that I liked. What didn’t I like? The esoteric pointlessness of a lot of it. I confess, I skipped some pages of blabberings by characters who seemed trapped inside their own insanity. Not many but I did. It kind of reminded me of some of the mental ramblings of Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
And I couldn’t understand the point of linking the present and the past and having the novel in both periods of history. Mirroring events in both eras seemed, as far as the last third of the book to be leading somewhere. Then it kind of fizzled out as if Ackroyd had realised his dinner was getting cold and the novel needed finishing off.
There was some minor debate about reason versus the supernatural. There are also hints at the differences between the profane and the holy. But in a book of this length, neither of those massive issues are going to get much discussion. And they don’t.
So, it gets a simple okay from me and nothing more. Am I glad that Lambs of London has been taken off the 1001 books list? You bet.
And so let us beginne and, as the Fabrick takes its Shape in front of you, alwaies keep the Structure intirely in Mind as you inscribe it.
And then in my dream I looked down at myself and saw in what rags I stoodç and I am a child again, begging on the threshold of eternity.
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