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The Man on a Donkey (1952)

af H. F. M. Prescott

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1741119,299 (4)17
The King¿s men are despoiling the monasteries and dividing church wealth among the royal favourites and a rebellion is brewing in the north. H.F.M. Prescott's novel tells the story of one of the most tumultuous events in British history. In 1536 Henry VIII was almost toppled from his throne when Northern England rose to oppose the Dissolution of the Monasteries. For a few weeks Robert Aske, the leader of the rebels, held the fate of the entire nation in his hand. THE MAN ON A DONKEY is an enthralling novel set in this difficult and complex period in history, when England¿s Catholic heritage was scattered to the four winds by a powerful and arrogant king. First published in 1952.… (mere)
  1. 00
    The Blanket of the Dark af John Buchan (gabriel)
    gabriel: Both are strongly written novels dealing with the events surrounding The Pilgrimage of Grace. Buchan's "Blanket of the Dark" is more action-oriented, while Prescott's "Man on a Donkey" is more literary and more closely tied to what is known historically.
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H. F. M. Prescott’s Man on a Donkey must surely be one of the finest historical novels ever written. Its subject is the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion (1536-1537) of England’s northern Catholics against the harshly imposed reforms of Henry VIII to the power structure and observances of the Church in England.

Prescott calls her story a chronicle, and she tells it in chronicle-like fashion. Historical figures people its pages, among them, Henry VIII and his first three queens, Princess Mary, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell, the Duke of Norfolk, and members of the Percy family. The story progresses by dated entries through the first three decades of the 16th century, keeping its focus on its main characters. They are the ordinary folk of their day trying to determine how best to respond to the deeply significant changes thrust upon them; “the Chronicle is mainly of five:—of Christabel Cowper, Prioress; Thomas, Lord Darcy; Julian Savage, Gentlewoman; Robert Aske, squire; Gilbert Dawe, Priest....There is also Malle, the Serving-woman.”

Told in beautiful language that skillfully evokes the spirit of a medieval chronicle, The Man on a Donkey is not a book to read quickly. It moves at a slow pace, though its central events are momentous. It absorbs the reader into its atmosphere of struggle, physical, mental, and spiritual. It raises for its characters (and for its readers!) such questions as how to live with integrity in a world filled with injustice. How to find within oneself the courage to follow one’s conscience, knowing the risk involved. How to maintain one’s faith in a time so filled with despair.

Violence, cruelty, betrayal, greed, tyranny are present everywhere in this novel; but so also are gentleness, compassion, loyalty, self-sacrifice, and love. I think anyone who enjoys historical fiction, especially fiction set in Tudor times, would enjoy it.
5 stars ( )
  dianelouise100 | Mar 28, 2021 |
The novel is written in the form of a chronicle of the five main characters, and leans heavily on the trial documents of the Pilgrimage of Grace, many of which are used verbatim. The result is a book in 16th-century English which takes 100 pages or so to get used to. It is a startling piece of work, which reads – miraculously – as though compiled just a few years after the events. The chronicle form – which is the opposite of history writing insofar as neither causes nor consequences are inquired into – feels a perfect vehicle for the slow unfolding of those times. Prescott knew what she was up to, explaining in an author’s note that she hoped “to introduce the reader into a world, rather than at first to present him with a narrative. In that world he must for a while move like a stranger, as in real life picking up, from seemingly trifling episodes, understanding of those about him, and learning to know them without knowing that he learns. Only later, when the characters should by this means have become familiar, does the theme of the whole book emerge.”
 
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Sir John Uvedale had business at Coverham Abbey in Wensleydale, lately suppressed, so he sent his people on before him to Marrick, to make ready for him, and to take over possession of the Priory of St Andrew from the Nuns, who should all be gone by noon or thereabouts.
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The King¿s men are despoiling the monasteries and dividing church wealth among the royal favourites and a rebellion is brewing in the north. H.F.M. Prescott's novel tells the story of one of the most tumultuous events in British history. In 1536 Henry VIII was almost toppled from his throne when Northern England rose to oppose the Dissolution of the Monasteries. For a few weeks Robert Aske, the leader of the rebels, held the fate of the entire nation in his hand. THE MAN ON A DONKEY is an enthralling novel set in this difficult and complex period in history, when England¿s Catholic heritage was scattered to the four winds by a powerful and arrogant king. First published in 1952.

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