Book Reviews

The Last Hours: A sweeping, utterly gripping historical novel for fans of Kate Mosse and Julian Fellowes by Minette Walters

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List Price: £20.00


Hardcover: 560 Pages.

Published: 02 November 2017 by Allen & Unwin

Edition: Main

ISBN: 1760632139

EAN: 9781760632137

June, 1348: the Black Death enters England through the port of Melcombe in the county of Dorsetshire. Unprepared for the virulence of the disease, and the speed with which it spreads, the people of the county start to die in their thousands.

In the estate of Develish, Lady Anne takes control of her people's future - including the lives of two hundred bonded serfs. Strong, compassionate and resourceful, Lady Anne chooses a bastard slave, Thaddeus Thurkell, to act as her steward. Together, they decide to quarantine Develish by bringing the serfs inside the walls. With this sudden overturning of the accepted social order, where serfs exist only to serve their lords, conflicts soon arise. Ignorant of what is happening in the world outside, they wrestle with themselves, with God and with the terrible uncertainty of their futures.

Lady Anne's people fear starvation but they fear the pestilence more. Who amongst them has the courage to leave the security of the walls?

And how safe is anyone in Develish when a dreadful event threatens the uneasy status quo...?


4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Debra Found

Excellent Background

I do like a decent historical novel. I like it to have excellent research, plenty of historical detail, good characterisations & a solid plot. That is quite a big ask but I do feel that this book ticked the boxes. Okay maybe it wasn't perfect in places but it was a good read.

The black death comes to Dorseteshire. The small demense of Develish is as unprepared as every other place in England. However, the Lady of the Manor, Lady Anne, takes action whilst her husband is away & settles the demense into a state of quarantine.

I very much enjoyed this book, particularly the first half. I felt that it started to slow down & loose its way a little in the second half of the book which could have done with some editing to keep it on track. However, this wasn't enough to prevent me reading the second half & enjoying it very much. This is clearly leading into a sequel which I shall look forward to.

The setting of the book is excellent. I did feel as if we were in the era with the struggles and ignorance of the time. Would Lady Anne have acted in the way she did towards her serfs? Who knows but it certainly worked well within the book. Lady Eleanor, her daughter, certainly presents the picture that one imagines of the minor gentry of the period with her demands for rights and spoilt tantrums. Her Father, Sir Richard, who appears in little of the book also shows this picture quite clearly and I have no problem believing that many Lords did behave in this manner.

I am a great fan of Karen Maitland's work and would have no hesitation in recommending this book to fans of her work. It is well constructed with an excellent setting. The plot works well despite its slowing as the book progressed. I look forward to the next in the series.

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.

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