Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Review:- C J SANSOM – “Dissolution”

Year Published: - 2003
Where the book was from:- My own copy
ISBN: - 978-0-330-45079-9
Pages: - 462pp
Genre: - Historical Fiction
Location:- Sussex, 1537
How I came across it: - Gift from Bryony
Rating: - ***** ***
One sentence summary:- Matthew Sheldrake, a commissioner to Thomas Cromwell, is sent to a monastery to establish the cause of death of a previous commissioner.


Describe the plot without giving anything away:-
In 1537 Henry VIII had recently proclaimed himself head of the church and was rooting out catholicism and endeavouring to dissolve the monasteries. The smaller monasteries are encouraged to dissolve voluntarily but when a commissioner is sent to the monastery at Scarnsea on the Sussex coast he is murdered. Matthew Shardlake is sent by Thomas Cromwell to investigate and gets snowed in there with a murderer on the loose and a posse of recalcitrant monks to cope with.

General comments:-
This is not my favourite period in history and I was not anticipating enjoying it as much as I did. Because it’s not my favourite I knew comparatively little about it and certainly learned a fair bit.
There are four other Matthew Shardlake novels –
Dark Fire,

One thing that really annoyed me (and probably lost it a whole asterisk) was the fact that the plan of the monastery in the front of the book did not translate into the text. (And I don’t just mean it failed to show hidden passages or whatever – it was inaccurate and obviously so from the start where Shardlake enters the gate and can see things which are actually around a corner. The cloister walk is also misplaced.)


“You are both the same, reformers and papists, you fashion beliefs which you force the people to follow on pain of death, while you struggle for power and lands and money, which are all any iof you truly want.”

AUTHOR Notes:- British born C J SANSOM earned a Ph.D. in history and, before becoming a full-time writer, was a lawyer.

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