I can’t believe it’s been over five years since I last read this incredible novel. But thinking about it as I write this I’m not too surprised. I last read this while working on a paper for my MA and that paper didn’t go well, because I apparently didn’t “understand how to apply gender theory” and I was given the opportunity to completely re-write the paper.
I was incredibly pissed at the insult, because that’s how I took it, and I spent a lot of time rewriting the paper in such a way as to insult my professors and the program. In no uncertain terms I stated that gender theory does not preempt every other theory and that scholars needed to be incredibly careful of over-stepping their bounds. I did eventually receive a passing grade and they invited back to pursue a PhD (I declined), but it left a sour taste in my mouth.
I know I say this often, but what a fascinating read, but what’s most exciting is that this is a work of nonfiction. I don’t generally read a lot of nonfiction, but after reading about this on a site ages ago (at least a year ago) and having just finished A Burnable Book, I knew this was a great time to read it. Needless to say I absolutely plan on finding a full biography of Chaucer.
Who Murdered Chaucer? focuses on the last 20(ish) years of Chaucer’s life, but more so on the political climate, which is vital to interpreting Chaucer’s writings and why so few survived, I found. And come on, the man lived 150 years before and is considered the father of English poetry, why does Shakespeare get all the credit? I mean sure Shakespeare wrote A LOT, but just this next paragraph should make you want to learn more about Geoffrey Chaucer.
Whoa, talk about a fascinating novel. It opens with a murder and builds from there! I finished the book in just over three days (with severely limited time) and it is most definitely a page turner with realistic characters and enough actual history thrown in to make you wonder how much is real and what isn’t.
I heard about this book from Books on the Nightstand and I HAD to read it. Not only did the story sound fascinating, but I mean come on it’s about Geoffrey Chaucer. He was the first person, out of my family, that I can remember who had the same name and more importantly, the same spelling, as ME!
I remember having to memorize the prologue to The Canterbury Tales in high school and enjoying the tales, but as interested in Chaucer as I was because of his name, I’ve never looked into his life or any fictional accounts of his life. I’ve had Who Murdered Chaucer? on my shelf for almost a month and kept putting it off, but now I’ve read this fictional book about Chaucer, I’m going right into a speculative history about Chaucer!
After nearly a month of trekking through, I’ve FINALLY finished this book. Coming in at 748 pages, this is 250 pages longer than in other book I’ve read this year and it definitely felt like it was longer! I did take a bit of time out to read two additional book during the time I read this, but they were much-needed reprieves. I of course decided to read this after seeing a trailer for the film adaptation released this past February.
I can’t say this was a bad book, because it was excellently written, but I can say it was too damn long. Most striking, however, I chose the perfect winter to read it. This winter has definitely felt as if it was one of the epic endless winter’s Helprin wrote about throughout this novel: the constant snow, the frozen water and the plunging temperatures. The only thing missing from my winter was the romance and the magic!
Aside from the length of the novel, I struggled with the reality of the novel. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if this novel was a historical fiction novel or a fantasy novel and apparently it was both. I knew there were fantasy elements of it, but I wasn’t sure how much of it should have been fantastical or real and for some reason I found it incredibly challenging!
Stephen King is a sick-sick man, but clearly incredibly talented to write these books. After reading Cujo, I wasn’t sure I’d read another, but my books into movies book group once again selected one. As I’m writing this I haven’t seen the film yet, but I’m sure I’ll be terrified. I’m not sure if I’ll read more of King, other than 11/22/63, but if they’re all like this I’d definitely consider it, even if I do get nightmares!
I’m a little torn on this novel, as with most novels that are just outside the realm of (my) possibility I’m not sure how much to enjoy it. If it’s something I could see happening, even if it’s a super stretch, then I get a little freaked out by it, and this is definitely one of those instances. And let’s face it with the number of weirdos out there this book is totally feasible! I mean it could happen today, even with all of the technology in modern society I could easily see this happening.