Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Review - John Preston – “The Dig”

Publ: 2007
Pensby Library
ISBN: 978-0-3670-91491-3
Genre: General Fiction; ‘Historical’;
Pages: 230
Recommended by a blogger
Rating: ***** ***

What led you to pick up this book?
It was recommended by a fellow blogger. again I didn’t note who – I must try to do so in the future.

Describe the plot without giving anything away.
The idea of a novel set around an archaeological dig in the summer of 1939 might not seem to be the stuff of great novels but John Preston has made it such. He looks at the dig which led to the discovery of the internationally famous Sutton Hoo - one of Britain's most important and atmospheric archaeological sites; the burial ground of the Anglo-Saxon kings of East Anglia. The story is told through the eyes of three of the participants with a postscript from the land-owners son.

The story touches on the international background (a nation awaiting war); the local background (inter-museum rivalry); and the clash between those interested in the dig for its own sake and those interested in it for the glory they will achieve. In addition there are the personal circumstances and backgrounds of all the people to consider.

The book is an excellent reminder to us all that no historical event takes place in isolation from the outside world or from the inner turmoil of the characters concerned.

What did you think of the characters?
Wonderfully sympathetically drawn. There isn’t an unbelievable character in the whole book.

What did you think about the style?
Simply excellent and excellently simple.

What did you like most about the book?
The skill with which the thoughts of the characters was drawn.

Was there anything you didn't like about the book?
Yes – the lines of text were not justified and as a result one’s eyes at times had to almost check that there wasn’t word missing.

Thoughts on the book jacket / cover.
I loved the simple yet effective Clifford Harper picture and the overall simplicity of the cover.

Would I recommend it?
Yes, very highly.

He was a much larger man than I had expected. However, he carried his bulk, if not proudly, then with a considerable air of entitlement. By contrast, his bow tie was rather small, making him look like an inexpertly wrapped parcel.

JOHN PRESTON is the Television Critic of the Sunday Telegraph, and also works as a Book Critic and a Feature Writer on the paper. In 2002 he was shortlisted for Feature Writing of the Year, in 2003 for Interviewer of the year and in 2004 for Critic of the Year. His travel book, Touching the Moon - about the Mountains of the Moon in Uganda was shortlisted for the WH Smith Award. He lives in London.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh I have this to read and am looking forward to it - even more so since reading your review!


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