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Read The Lambs Of London (2006)

The Lambs of London (2006)

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3.14 of 5 Votes: 2
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0385514611 (ISBN13: 9780385514613)
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The Lambs Of London (2006) - Plot & Excerpts

Plot: This is the semi-biographical story of Charles and Mary Lamb, avid readers and fanatical in their love of Shakespeare, as they meet William Ireland an antiquarian book dealer who has made an unusual discovery. Since a lot of the events in this book are a matter of historical record, you may know some of the events of this book before you read it. I'm still going to be as vague plot wise as possible because I went in with very little knowledge and I enjoyed the surprises. All I knew of Charles and Mary Lamb was that they turned Shakespeare's plays into prose tales, I had an illustrated collection that I loved as a kid. What I liked: I thought this book evoked the time period well, the writing was very immersive but not overly descriptive.Favourite Quote: 'Holborn Passage itself was little more than alley, one of those dark threads woven into the city's fabric which accumulate soot and dust over the centuries. There was a pipe shop here as well as a carpenters workshop and a bookshop. All of them wore with resignation the faded patima of age and abondonment. The gowns were discoloured, the pipes on display would never be smoked and the workshop seemed untended.' I also really liked how the author wrote the characters of Charles and Mary and their incredibly strong sibling relationship. They are both fairly wealthy and educated the main passion of both of their lives literature. I tend to find that books about avid readers are usually lots of fun. In particular I thought Mary was written very well. I found it very easy to sympathise with her for many reasons. One being that she is obviously as intelligent as her brother, (perhaps even more), but because she is a woman she has to remain at home in domesticity. She also has a facial disfigurement, in that her face is severely scarred from Small Pox and it is clear that throughout the novel she is becoming more detached and her mental illness is controlling her more and more. I found Charles harder to relate to, probably because of how condescending he was to his sister. He is very selfish and doesn't try to relate to his family at all, he has a tendency to ignore problems like his deteriorating mental state. He likes to treat her like a fictional character: 'So she is Ophelia', he said, 'Wasting'.Why must you see everything as a drama, Charles? Mary is not a character in a play. She is suffering'.All of this is probably understandable in the historical context, but I found out it hard as a modern reader, (and a woman who has in the past struggled with her mental health) to just his behavior in this novel. As well as interestingly written sibling relationships, the parental relationships are all strained differently. William's Ireland's father always has to be the centre of attention. Charles and Mary's father is suffering from dementia. Although Mary and her mother have the most obviously fractured. I felt like these connections were written very well, and in a relateable way.What I didn't like: The pacing was my biggest problem with the novel. I actually found it quite hard to get into, which i don't think was to do with the writing or the subject, both of which I liked. It was because of how slow the initial set up in the first 100 pages were. The whole book was only 200 pages long and I felt like the most interesting events that happened in the book happened in the last 50 pages. This just left me with a disjointed reading experience. Rating: 3/5- The story and the writing did interest me, and if i was rating this book purely on the story it would be 4/5, but the pacing really stunted my enjoyment of this novel so I think 3/5 is a fair rating.

Hmmm, I'm not really sure what to think about this one. I picked it out of my reading list because I noticed it was a period drama based loosely on real historical figures, and I wanted to see an example of another modern author's attempt to write historical fiction. I think that I sort of enjoyed it, but I have a lot of complaints about the first half of the book.The book is written under the conceit that well-known Shakespeare forger from the late 18th century, William Ireland, gets to know Charles and Mary Lamb, authors of an illustrated children's book of Shakespeare stories. Mary is drawn into believing Ireland's forgeries and even falls in love with him, only to become mentally unstable once he is later revealed to be a forger.I read up on the principle characters afterwards to see just how many ways the story differed from history, and while I can say that I enjoyed the fantasy of two sets of historical figures becoming involved with each other for what it is, I think I really would have enjoyed seeing an Erik Larson-style novelized history where the two separate stories are explored in parallel.As for the writing, the author does a good job of making 18th century London a real sensory experience. He takes time to describe sights, sounds and smells on a consistent basis without overloading the novel with detailed description. I felt somewhat confident from what non-fiction I've been reading about the city around and after that period that he was writing as someone who was familiar with the daily lifestyle of the time and place. I also appreciate him taking the time to explain how the forgeries were conducted, because I was very curious how Ireland managed to fool a number of supposedly knowledgeable people.My biggest complaint is the first half of the novel, where his choice of scenes seemed a bit too disjointed to be creating a cohesive storyline. Some of them were unnecessary, and others which eventually did have relevance to later events interrupted a scene in a way which made it seem out of place.For instance:Early on in the story, a scene written from Charles' perspective in the bookstore talking with William, is suddenly interrupted for a back story scene in William's perspective about the first time he had sex, with a prostitute on top of a stagecoach. This has no relevance to anything else in the novel, and it comes up so suddenly that the switch is jarring.A conversation between the Lambs and William in their sitting room is suddenly interrupted by an incident William once witnessed of someone committing suicide off the London bridge. The scene is relevant later, but the placement in the middle of the conversation is a bit odd.A visit to the church by William and his father to get an opinion from the priests as to the authenticity of one of his documents suddenly veers off onto an entire scene telling the back story of a bit character, a small boy of African decent who was brought to the church as an orphan, and it is suddenly revealed at the end that he is being sexually molested by the priests. (Yikes!)The storytelling does get a bit tighter in the latter half, and he eventually stops doing the annoying scene interruptions for a bit of unrelated story, but the first half was rather unpleasant to get through up to a certain point. I can only guess he saw bit characters and interesting facts he really wanted to explore enough that he was not concerned about the potential impact on the plot.Anyway, I don't regret reading it, because it was a rather short novel and easy to read in one afternoon, but it definitely has its flaws.

What do You think about The Lambs Of London (2006)?

The Lambs of London, despite the title, is mostly about Ireland his foregery of Shakespeare's plays. It is not a boring book, but there is something lacking in it. At times the writer feels one step removed from some of the characters, in particular Mary Lamb who disappers for a section of the novel. The real focus of the novel is William Ireland and his relationship with his father. Ackroyd does an excellent job there showing how the family works. The title, however, is extremely misleading. Ackroyd does start out focusing on the Lamb family, making an excellent character of Mary and focusing on her thoughts and feelings. Later in the book, however, it seems that Ackroyd found Ireland far more interesting.

Surprisingly sweet and poignant. It wasn't as gripping as the book cover anecdotes would have you think but nonetheless it was a small shocker of an ending, not the way I thought it would go. Bear with the writing style, it's of its moment and whilst it takes some getting into it does get easier. You get engrossed in the story so just don't notice it as much. I'm not sure if you're supposed to like the characters and I won't say any more for fear of spoilers but I will say that I find it hard to believe William was only 17! He seemed so much older!All in all a lovely, quick read - try it!

This was quite entertaining. I read the book in German translation and for obvious reasons that is a disadvantage. Apparently Peter Ackroyd has written a Shakespeare biography, which seems poignant to me, given the subject of this book, which is about forgery. Since the Shakespeare authorship debate involves mutual accusations of imposture and fraud and forgery, it tickles me that someone who presumably believes that the writer Shakespeare was the same person as Shakspear from Stratford provides here a loving account of verification, authenticity, gullability, imposture and conspiracy. After all, this book is a historical novel which mixes fantasy and reality. It could be read as a self-parody. I am naturally curious to read Ackroyd's Shakeaspeare biography. This novel is a spur to more reading and re-reading on a subject which like an old mansion, has winding corridors, forgotten store rooms, hidden stairways and secret passages.

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