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Book Of Colours by Robyn Cadwallader

Book Of Colours (edition 2019)

by Robyn Cadwallader (Author)

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403449,292 (4.17)None
"London, 1321: in a small shop in Paternoster Row, three people are drawn together around the creation of a magnificent book, an illuminated manuscript of prayers, a book of hours. Even though the commission seems to answer the aspirations of each one of them, their own desires and ambitions threaten its completion. As each struggles to see the book come into being, it will change everything they have understood about their place in the world."--Provided by publisher.… (more)
Title:Book Of Colours
Authors:Robyn Cadwallader (Author)
Info:4th Estate (2019), Edition: Reprint, 400 pages
Collections:To read, Wishlist

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Book of Colours by Robyn Cadwallader



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I found this slow to get into - which was more to do with me than the book - but also, it is a slow story to be savoured. A woman limner (person who does the illuminations ie illustrations on illumintae dmanuscripts) Gemma is the character I found of most interest, and I would have enjoyed more focus on her. It's a brilliantly executed book of history and psychological insight. I'm reminded of the work of Minette Walters.
Enjoy! ( )
  ClareRhoden | Oct 22, 2018 |
I love all things to do with the art of illumination. I am the one in art galleries all over Europe and the UK giving the staff conniptions because I am up so close peering at the exquisite tiny paintings that decorate medieval Bibles and Books of Hours and other illuminated manuscripts. I was in heaven when the State Library of Victoria put on an exhibition called The Medieval Imagination and yes, I bought the book to appease my hankering to #InMyDreams own one of these illuminations of my very own.
I love this form of religious art because although the illuminations are focussed on biblical stories, the limners (the people who painted the illuminations) couldn’t help themselves… they also included all kinds of other weird and wonderful things as well. I share Robyn Cadwallader’s fascination with these strange juxtapositions, as she explains in her Author’s Note:
"Many of us will have seen photos, and perhaps even exhibitions, of sumptuously decorated books from the Middle Ages. My attention, though, has always been drawn to the margins of books of hours, as they are known, where birds, animals, funny and fantastical creatures and even scenes of sin and bawd are often depicted – all alongside prayers and illuminations of Christ and the Virgin Mary." (p.352)
This historical novel was everything I hoped it would be. It is structured around the life of the woman, Lady Mathilda Fitzjohn, who commissioned an illuminated book of hours at a time when all was going well for her privileged family, and also the trials and tribulations of the family of limners who work on the book for her. But the early years of the 14th century in England were a difficult time for both rich and poor, because in additional to unusually atrocious weather which caused The Great Famine of 1315-17, there was also political turmoil resulting in warfare between King Edward II and his opponents.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/06/13/book-of-colours-by-robyn-cadwallader-bookrev... ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jun 13, 2018 |
Book of Colours is an historical fiction novel by Australian author Robyn Cadwallader and is set in London's Paternoster Row in the 1320s. A noblewoman has commissioned the creation of a book of hours - a decorated medieval manuscript - and the novel is about the stationer's shop lucky enough to secure the valuable commission and the people who illuminate the pages.

This book was right up my alley as I've always been fascinated by illuminated manuscripts and amazed when precious documents like these survive the centuries and ravages of time.

Sometimes a book comes along at the right moment and at the time I was reading Book of Colours I was also undertaking an online course about England in the time of Richard III. I was completing a unit called Books, Literacy and Printing which included some amazing information on medieval scripts and illuminated manuscripts which greatly enhanced my enjoyment of this novel.

Some of you might remember I reviewed Robyn Cadwallader's first novel The Anchoress back in 2015 and her skill in bringing a period of history to life in vivid detail is repeated here. Art lovers will enjoy the intricacies of illuminating the manuscript, the myriad choices regarding decoration and borders and the processes involved to produce each of the colour pigments used in the delicate work.

The novel is also about the political turmoil of the time, and the importance of books like these to assist in prayer.

Book of Colours by Robyn Cadwallader satisfied my curiosity with regard to the creation of illuminated manuscripts and I highly recommend it.

* Copy courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers * ( )
  Carpe_Librum | May 28, 2018 |
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