'A Plague on Both Your Houses: The First Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew' was not a book I would have chosen to read. My wife downloaded the book onto my Kindle as a Christmas present thinking that I would like it. At first, I wasn't so sure. While she is a big fan of historical mysteries, I am more a fan of historical non-fiction. I'd rather read about the facts as they are known than someone's made up story set in against a historical backdrop; still after some reluctance I gave the book a try.
Getting into the book was the hardest part. Chapter One introduced you to Mathew Bartholomew and his world, setting the stage for the rest of the story. Unfortunately, I found that this chapter wasn't very gripping and to me, it felt drawn out and ponderous. One of the problems with the book is the chapter format. Each chapter feels more like a large section that is broken up into sub-chapters. Each subsection is filled with detail and is important to the overall story, however I thought the author could have had written the book with shorter, more succinct chapters that would have moved the story along at a better pace.
It was only as I got into Chapter Two and beyond that I started to get interested in the story. Even with the long, drawn out chapters the plot was interesting and the characters were engaging. I soon found myself drawn into the tale and anxious to finish it.
Without getting into details, I will say that Mathew Bartholomew is no Cadfael, however he is an interesting character. He is portrayed as a caring, concerned, intelligent scholar living in a time where common sense was in short supply and where superstition and conformity were commonplace. He is not a detective and he is not portrayed as one. In fact, sometimes he comes across as not being the sharpest quill in the college, especially when it is obvious to the reader that he should be doing something other than sleeping when he should be acting. Still, his positive characteristics out way the negative, and the reader finds themselves liking Mathew Bartholomew.
The story takes place during the Black Death and this event takes up a good portion of the book, and at times the `mystery' aspect of the book takes a back seat to the historical events. It is nice to see that the author has not made Bartholomew cleverer than the historical norm.
Overall, I feel that 'A Plague on Both Your Houses: The First Chronicle Of Matthew Bartholomew' is a good read and I recommend it. As you read it, you will find that the protagonist, Mathew Bartholomew grows on you. In the end, I think you will enjoy this book.
- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group; 1 edition (27 October 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0751568023
- ISBN-13: 978-0751568028
- Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 3.2 x 19.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 281 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)