The Wake: Paul Kingsnorth

The Wake

This book is not for the fainthearted! Entirely written in ‘shadow tongue’, a version of Old English, updated so as to be understandable for the modern reader, it takes some time to get used to the language. Think Chaucer and you get some sort of idea.  I nearly gave up after the first few pages. But persevere- you will get used to it. And once you begin to get into the story you will realise that the language is half the point- if it had been written in 21st century English it would have become a great deal more ordinary.

The story is set in 1066 and is about a small group of resistance fighters living in the Fens and led by ‘the Buccmaster’, a displaced landowner who has lost his wife and sons to the marauding Normans led by William the Conqueror. The Buccmaster is confused and perplexed at the way that not only has his homeland  been invaded and completely changed, but so has his own way of life. His desperate attempt to retain the past and to fight for freedom is told in a truly haunting way and the descriptions both of his inner life and his relationship with the countryside remain with you long after you have finished the book. And its good for brushing up on your history too- the descriptions of Norman Castles going up all over England is mindblowing.

Read it. I dare you!

Eleanor