Welcome to the Historical Fiction Online forums: a friendly place to discuss, review and discover historical fiction.
If this is your first visit, please be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above.
You will have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.
To start viewing posts, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

"The Wordsmith's Tale" by Stephen Edden

Want to read a certain historical novel with other members and discuss it as you go along? Start a thread here!
stephen01
Scribbler
Posts: 5
Joined: June 2011
Location: Nottingham (UK)

Post by stephen01 » Fri July 15th, 2011, 7:40 am

Thanks for supportive comments, everyone. Yes, Kate, I was notified about the Times, thanks. Helped stir up a lot of interest. Breathless round of promotional events right now: hence delay in responding, sorry. I'm sure the authors out there could have warned me, but I hadn't realised how much more demanding than the writing itself the promotional stuff would be! Am at Waterstone's London Picadilly store, signing, all day this Sat (16 July) so pop in and say hello, any of you, if nearby.

User avatar
Ludmilla
Bibliophile
Posts: 1345
Joined: September 2008
Location: Georgia USA

Post by Ludmilla » Wed July 20th, 2011, 6:28 pm

Looks like the US Kindle is selling for the bargain price of $2.99 today. Can't resist that.

User avatar
Ludmilla
Bibliophile
Posts: 1345
Joined: September 2008
Location: Georgia USA

Post by Ludmilla » Fri December 9th, 2011, 2:07 pm

I just started reading this today. I bought the Kindle version at Amazon when it was $2.99, but now that I go to add it to my library db, I see the Kindle has completely disappeared from Amazon-US. Anyone know what's up with that?

User avatar
EC2
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3661
Joined: August 2008
Location: Nottingham UK
Contact:

Post by EC2 » Fri December 9th, 2011, 11:25 pm

I have it on my TBR - a hardback copy given to me by the author no less but without endorsement strings attached, just as a gift. I am looking forward to reading it when the mood strikes. :)
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

User avatar
parthianbow
Compulsive Reader
Posts: 856
Joined: April 2009
Location: Nr. Bristol, SW England
Contact:

Post by parthianbow » Sat December 10th, 2011, 1:40 pm

I've had this title recommended highly to me by an editor whose opinion I greatly value. Will now want to buy it even more... (esp. as I posted about wanting here already, and had forgotten about it... :o )
Ben Kane
Bestselling author of Roman military fiction.
Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

http://www.benkane.net
Twitter: @benkaneauthor

User avatar
Susan
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3746
Joined: August 2008
Location: New Jersey, USA

Post by Susan » Sat December 10th, 2011, 4:46 pm

I read The Wordsmith's Tale during the summer. I found it fascinating and loved the voice and the style of the novel.
~Susan~
~Unofficial Royalty~
Royal news updated daily, information and discussion about royalty past and present
http://www.unofficialroyalty.com/

annis
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4585
Joined: August 2008

Post by annis » Sat December 10th, 2011, 6:27 pm

I'm a bit embarrassed to say that it's still in my TBR pile (I bought it when this thread first started), but I have been struggling a bit lately to get through as much reading as usual. Everyone certainly seems to love it.

User avatar
Ludmilla
Bibliophile
Posts: 1345
Joined: September 2008
Location: Georgia USA

Post by Ludmilla » Tue December 13th, 2011, 2:38 pm

Kate, not sure if you’re still checking out the thread, but wanted to respond to some of your thoughts now that I’ve finished the book.

Re tone and accessibility:
In some novels - but emphatically not here - the use of such words can seem too "mannered" or a bit like reading the AV of the Bible: beautiful but archaic. My theory as to why that isn't so in "The Wordsmith's Tale" is that the author used the voice of the narrator, not the scribe, which makes the whole thing more "chatty", less formal, and gives it "modernity", for want of a better word. The other device is that the author pricks the bubble of any wordy comments with an immediate pithy witticism. I'd be interested in other opinions.

And further down...

I hope you caught the review in the Times. I imagine your agent, your publisher or you picked it up. If not, you should know that your book is a 'highly entertaining history lesson, and also a compelling attempt to show the crucible of the British collective unconscious; the origins of stories that have lasted more than 1,000 years.'! The review was glowing, but I thought it could have made more of the novel's readability/accessibility, too!!
I agree about the novel’s readability and accessibility. The tone is appropriate for storytelling and the language easy to follow. It reminds me of the way you sit around the kitchen table telling your stories to family members. I read the ebook, so I don’t know if there was something like a change of font or extra spacing to set off the transitions from past to present in the print edition, but there were a few instances where I had to think for a minute where we were in the story as it went back and forth. I think how one receives the tone of the novel itself is going to depend on a lot of things: an appreciation for puns and play on words (some of which are so sly you might miss them while others are very blunt), your sense of humor, and how you relate to the characters themselves. I never quite warmed up it the characters the way I had hoped because the story hops around and the characters are too sketchy. On one hand the tone feels light and breezy, very jocular in nature despite moments of tragedy for a good portion of the novel, but then we have moments of bawdy humor that feels very British to my American sensibilities (and I wonder if you have to be an Anglophile to fully appreciate some of it). I did enjoy the play on words and irony involved with regard to the character Wulfie who is attributed with the gift of sight because he’s so short-sighted he’s thought to see into the mist. Overall, I felt the story meandered all over the place. I didn't spend enough time with any one character to stay fully engaged in it, but it had some nice moments and I'm glad I read it.
Last edited by Ludmilla on Wed December 14th, 2011, 2:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Kate139
Scribbler
Posts: 22
Joined: April 2011

Post by Kate139 » Mon December 19th, 2011, 10:14 am

Hi Ludmilla,
Yes, I'm still alive and kicking. Visiting this thread is a nice break from all things Christmassy! I'm relieved you're glad to have read "The Wordsmith's Tale", albeit with caveats. Yes, I think I understand that comment about different sensibilities in different cultures. I also don't know if all the fairy tale references translate. Do you have the same canon of fairy tales and nursery rhymes in the USA as we do here?? I'd love to know.
We "did" this book, on my recommendation, at our Reading Group and there was a split between the "adored it" crowd and "didn't get along with it". All bar one liked the mix of chatty and use of "old" words. The first group loved all the wordplay etc, and the meditations on love and language, the latter wanted more fast-paced action directly linked to known events.
I liken it to a tapestry where the picture gradually unfolds into something beautiful with the final stiches. I read it a further time for the group discussion and found new depths to it and jokes I'd missed, including the delicious fairy tale irony of how Gross the cook gets his comeuppance (I'll say no more,here, for risk of revealing things). Another of our group made a telling comment. They said it's not like a typical historical novel where sketchy events are embellished or enriched by the author, but it uses history like a time line from which hundreds of intimately linked fairy tales and stories are hung. I loved that image of a timeline as a washing line! I may be wrong, but I think anyone expecting a typical historical novel will be in either for a shock or a pleasant surprise!!

annis
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4585
Joined: August 2008

Post by annis » Fri December 23rd, 2011, 10:53 pm

I’ve just finished this moving novel, which I found appealing on both an intellectual and emotional level. Although it is a history of England and Angelcynn (Englishness), it also calls to my Kiwi heritage. In Maori culture whakapapa, the record of a family genealogy, is of great significance. A whakapapa (originally an oral tradition) includes not just a genealogy, but the many spiritual, mythological and human stories that flesh out the genealogical backbone. A whakapapa is invariably entwined with the stories of the whenua, the land, so the concept Stephen Edden is working with here is one very familar to me.

The Anglo-Saxons loved a riddle, a pun, a double-entendre and a turn of phrase which encompassed more than one meaning. It’s typical of Edden’s masterful use of language and understanding of Englisc, that the very title of this book can be read in two ways, both as the story of Thomas the Piper and as the author’s own work.

I’ve always been a sucker for authors who do wonderful things with language. Although The Wordsmith’s Tale is written in an unaffected, straightforward style, it has great depth. Edden’s lingustic brilliance illuminates but never overwhelms this multi-generational story that follows the history of England from the late 10th century to 20 years after the Norman Conquest, through the humble lives of a peasant family bound to each other and the land through the story-weaver’s art that is in their gift.

Wordsmith’s Tale makes for hard reading at times. The lives of Tom Thumb and Elfleda and their descendents are frequently blighted by random cruelty and suffering. Sometimes you cringe, waiting with bated breath for the next disaster to fall, yet the central theme is of continuity through transition, of hopeful, stoic endurance and love that is never wasted. Always Thomas the Piper’s haunting word-music recalls the past while leading the reader dancing forward toward a new beginning. Impressive and highly original.
Last edited by annis on Tue December 27th, 2011, 6:28 pm, edited 26 times in total.

Locked

Return to “Book Buddies”