Crow Court - Andy Charman; | Foyles Bookstore
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Crow Court
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Crow Court (Hardback)

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Spring, 1840. In the Dorset market town of Wimborne Minster, a young choirboy drowns himself. Soon after, the choirmaster-a belligerent man with a vicious reputation-is found murdered, in a discovery tainted as much by relief as it is by suspicion. The gaze of the magistrates falls on four local men, whose decisions will reverberate through the community for years to come.

So begins the chronicle of Crow Court, unravelling over fourteen delicately interwoven episodes, the town of Wimborne their backdrop: a young gentleman and his groom run off to join the army; a sleepwalking cordwainer wakes on his wife's grave; desperate farmhands emigrate. We meet the composer with writer's block; the smuggler; a troupe of actors down from London; and old Art Pugh, whose impoverished life has made him hard to amuse.

Meanwhile, justice waits...

Fiction & PoetryHistorical FictionFiction & PoetryModern & contemporary fiction post c 1945 Publisher: Unbound Publication Date: 21/01/2021 ISBN-13: 9781783529100  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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Andy Charman has a BA in Philosophy and Literature from the University of Warwick and works as a business analyst and consultant. He is also a certified coach, working with other authors on their writing practice. His short stories have appeared in Every Day Fiction, The Battered Suitcase, Cadenza, Ballista and other periodicals and websites. Born and raised in Dorset, he now lives in Surrey with his wife and daughter.

More books by Andy Charman

Customer Reviews

A historical novel with a different theme, Crow Court begins in the Spring of 1840, yet the effects of events at that time will have results for many years afterwards. This is a book of people who spend some time in and around Wimborne Minster in Dorset, who are aware of the lives of others, and who are also aware of some of the supernatural forces that seem to be present just under the surface. It is a collection of fourteen episodes, character studies, decisions and experiences that have subtle but important differences. Set in well described countryside, full of the plants, animals and birds that power the stories in many ways, this is a brilliant collection of insights into members of the community. An overarching theme of a mystery pervades the novel which holds together the individual chapters, three of which have been already published as separate short stories. It means that the stories have various styles; a piece with short, establishing statements, a lyrical story of birds observed, a chapter which gives three different versions of the same dinner party. There are sad stories, cheerful tales, a stirring tale of seafaring and another one of smuggling. This is a special book of deep observations, and I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review it. The book opens with the buzz of activity surrounding the wedding of Louisa and Samuel, but soon comes down to a question that is to be posed to Charles, the best man. The couple want Henry, a choir boy, to sing a solo, but he seems unwilling and unhappy. When Charles makes enquiry, he is horrified to discover that the Choirmaster, Matthew is actively cruel to the boys of the choir and worse, assaults them. The burden of this knowledge weighs him down and we are witness to others who are also appalled. When Henry drowns himself on the day of the wedding, there are those who think that action should be taken. The subsequent events mark the end of one life and a blight on the lives of others. Not that the stories that follow are bleak or depressing; each of the stories have their own power and significance, small joys and sorrows. A widower sleepwalks to his wife’s grave, a boy persuades a young horse to carry him in complete darkness, a man spots a woman who he has been searching for at a dinner party. The author has succeeded in this novel in constructing a sophisticated story from smaller tales. Each chapter revels in details and presents insights into the members of the community linked by a common mystery, a common bafflement with what has happened. They still write music, discover small details of life, and in one case, make an old man laugh. One of the most touching elements is one of faith, in semi magical cures and other forces. The bird motif is very strong, as they guide in the darkness, represent bad fortune in a house, and most memorably appear to gather with a purpose. The various situations in the book must have required a large amount of research, yet the book is never slowed by extra information. Some stories are amusing, such as the confronting of a farm hand with progress, and some sad. This is a stylistically impressive book written with real skill and represents a successful attempt to give a range of views of a significant story.

- 31/01/2021
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