The Westen Wind by Samantha Harvey
First things first. Thank you to FOW2 for taking the posh photo. I was too annoyed by the fact that they had brought my coffee in a water glass to make any meaningful contribution. HOH was also at this table but he was too busy regretting our decision to bring a stroppy Jack Russell into a posh coffee shop to do any posing.
Anyway back to the book. I thought this was excellent. It’s set in 1491 in a tiny village in Somerset. Poverty, disease and religion/ superstition rule people’s lives. The village is cut off by a river that has no bridge and the local monastery is looking greedily towards its grazing lands. Then the wealthiest man in the village dies in mysterious circumstances. A reason must be found – is it suicide, murder or an accident? These are issues, not just of justice and punishment but of the eternal resting place of an human soul. Suicide would mean damnation. The village’s priest is John Reve who feels a responsibility to the villagers to protect them from the outside world and those who might threaten them.
It’s a kind of whodunnit. The timeline is deliberately all over the place – well it’s written backwards actually which would usually make me run for the hills. Not here though. I read the last chapter and then read the first chapter again to see if I had understood it properly. It’s quite densely written. I think it’s what people call literary fiction. This doesn’t fall in your lap but I thought that this added to the sense of time and place. I felt that I could really sense the way people lived and looked – always a plus yes? I have read that people think that there are historical problems with it but, for me, ignorance was bliss so not bothered. Loved it