Heartstone - C. J. Sansom

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Heartstone - C. J. Sansom

Summer, 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Chan...

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Review of "Heartstone - C. J. Sansom"

published 18/04/2014 | LiveMusicLoverLyn
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Excellent
Pro Quality prose, interesting concept and good characters
Cons none
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"Heartstone - No Stone is Left Unturned by C J Sansom"

Heartstone
C J Sansom
An almost no spoiler review.
I do divulge something about one of the characters pertaining to an earlier book.

Heartstone is the fifth in the series of novels featuring hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake. All the books in the series are set in the 16th Century at the time of Henry VIII each book is a stand-alone story whilst following on from the previous books and bring the time and places to life.

Brief Synopsis:

Heartstone features the most complicated storyline to date and once again has the added interest for me of featuring places I know well. This time the tale is based largly in Hampshire as well as London. Shardlake is appointed by a servant of Henry's sixth wife Catherine Parr, to act on behalf of two young orphans who have been adopted by a landowner suspected of aiming to benefit greatly and make money from their ward-ship. There is evidence to suspect that he is abusing his powerful position. Whilst taking on this case Shardlake is also looking into the history of a young lady that he believes is wrongly incarcerated in the notorious lunatic asylum the Bedlam. As usual his investigations lead to some dark secrets and murky pasts of some powerful people that prove to be dangerous. But just who is out to get Shardlake and why? Once again our protagonist is drawn into the politics of the time, has to face his conscience and his desire to get to the bottom of the events played out before him. Shardlake is an idealist and must have the truth at whatever cost. Although this novel has a complicated story line Sansom's easy to read writing style and the believable aspects of the tale immerses you in the time and once again a famous historical event is incorporated into the tale, this time an horrendous sea battle against the French off the coast of Portsmouth is featured and incorporates a slightly humorous moment or three? That reminds me of a clip from Pirates of the Caribbean!

My Opinion:

Deaths, lies and danger as always lie at the heart of this page turning novel. Barak is once again featured and it is touching how the relationship between the two main characters is building and there is obvious mutual respect and admiration. The now married "Gofor" is realistically losing his bad boy image and becoming a softer character under the influence of the care of a good woman (my tongue was firmly in my cheek as I wrote that comment!). Once again Sansom allows the reader to see some of the darker aspects of Shardlake's character which adds to the believability of the tale that unfolds. As I read this book I would often find myself wondering about it as I drove to work or tidied the garden, where did Sansom get his inspiration from? what made him decide on these two particular cases to run in tandem? Where did he start the novel? The last question I ask because sometimes I had the feeling that the end or near end was written first, leaving Sansom the task of building a story to reach that conclusion. Of course I could be wrong? However, I do like a book that keeps me interested even when I am not actually reading it. Heartstone certainly did that, as usual Sansom brought the Tudor times to life and you really felt like you were in the Hampshire village or approaching Portsmouth. The industries of the day are brought to life as well as the hardship of the lower classes and the arrogance of those higher up in the echelons of society. Of course the real strength of this novel and indeed the whole Shardlake series the realistic characters and realistic portrayal of Tudor England.

Shardlake begins the novel slowly and it peaks and ebbs in a satisfying way that leaves the reader in no doubt that Sansom is in charge here. There is a reason why he is such a popular historical fiction author. That is because he takes the story by the scruff of its neck and wrings everything out of it giving the reader a satisfying journey back in time where we can smell the woods and the roses and puzzle over the events on the page knowing that no stone is left unturned.

In conclusion, Tudor Britain was a fascinating time and there is so much material to draw from and Sansom with this series of books has drawn on most of it in order to create an interesting and fascinating trip into Tudor times in each novel. Sansom is well placed to write these novels as he has a PhD in history and is also a qualified solicitor, thus he has plenty of background to draw on. Like the rest of the books in the series whilst Heartstone is a standalone novel, but there is definite benefit in reading these books in order to enjoy how Sansom builds the main characters. Whether you prefer the historical genre of book or crime, mystery or even a good fictionalised legal story Heartstone is a fascinating story built around interesting characters.

Stars 5/5

Price & Availability: From all good book sellers. Paperback £6.29 and Hardback £14.29 from Amazon at the time of writing.

Thank you for reading and rating - this review is also on Dooyoo

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Comments on this review

  • danielclark691 published 01/09/2017
    good work
  • wazza115 published 14/12/2015
    vh
  • Coloneljohn published 20/04/2014
    This does sound very interesting. John
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Product Information : Heartstone - C. J. Sansom

Manufacturer's product description

Summer, 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel. As the English fleet gathers at Portsmouth, the country raises the largest militia army it has ever seen. The King has debased the currency to pay for the war, and England is in the grip of soaring inflation and economic crisis. Meanwhile Matthew Shardlake is given an intriguing legal case by an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr. Asked to investigate claims of "monstrous wrongs" committed against a young ward of the court, which have already involved one mysterious death, Shardlake and his assistant Barak journey to Portsmouth. Once arrived, Shardlake and Barak find themselves in a city preparing to become a war zone; and Shardlake takes the opportunity to also investigate the mysterious past of Ellen Fettipace, a young woman incarcerated in the Bedlam. The emerging mysteries around the young ward, and the events that destroyed Ellen's family nineteen years before, involve Shardlake in reunions both with an old friend and an old enemy close to the throne. Events will converge on board one of the King's great warships, primed for battle in Portsmouth harbour.

Product Details

EAN: 9781405092739

Type: Fiction

Genre: Historical Fiction

Title: Heartstone

Author: C. J. Sansom

Release Date: 40424

ISBN: 1405092734

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