Sunday, 20 December 2009

Book Review #1 - A R Dance - Narrow Marsh - Arundel, Nott`m, 2008

Narrow Marsh is an excellent historical novel that tells the story of it`s two main protagonists whilst also telling the story of the Industrial Revolution and it`s effect on the people of Nottingham.

Too harsh a critic might easily find fault with this remarkable book. Certainly, the plot is not especially ground-breaking, there is no great depth of characterisation and on occasion the dialogue is a little unconvincing.

Such criticisms would miss the point entirely. The story of the book`s star- crossed lovers serves as a `hook` on which the author hangs the major events of the day - the Luddites, the development of the `back to back` slums of Nottingham, the  Pentrich revolution and  more. The story is not only about the characters Mr Dance has created, but about a particular time and place. It works as a piece of fiction, but also it works as a piece of  social history, telling us abut the impact of the dawn of industrialisation and it`s effect  on  local people as they are faced with decisions which may change their lives for ever. 

Having played devil`s advocate briefly, I should also point out that, had the author portrayed the characters as a collection of introverts, forever musing on their own motivations, then the story would have been ruined and probably completely unrealistic. It should also be said that any overly authentic rendering of dialogue would have been well-nigh incomprehensible to the modern reader and would have required copious footnotes to render it intelligible. 

Leaving aside the specifics of the Midlands in the 1800s,  as the author has commented, the book is "about the spirit of human resilience and hope", adding "that is always with us, wherever we may choose to look". Couldn`t have put it better myself ! I very much recommend this book and look forward to more from this writer.

NOTE - As is well known, we do stock a selection of books relating to Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, plus many titles from small publishers etc on a variety of topics (see our shop at . We do not stock the works of A R Dance for purely practical reasons -   experience has shown us that  anyone looking to buy books of this sort either deals with the publisher direct through their web site or buys it from a shop. With that in mind, I shall be selfless and tell you A R Dance`s books Narrow Marsh and The Chilwell Ghost : A New Investigation are available from I gather the site may be down for maintenace for a short time during December 2009, but should be back online again without too much delay. 

AFTERTHOUGHT - If anyone`s misguided enough to want to read more book reviews by me, I`ve recently reviewed 2 books, In Battle for Peace by W E B Du Bois and Agents Of Peace by Albert E Kahn at

No comments:

Post a Comment