Monday, 18 April 2016

The Village when Death Comes to Call

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to review a book.
It's a children's book by Eleanor Watkins - she's a local author who lives at Wernwilk Farmhouse just outside Hay. This isn't her first book - the biography at the back of the books says she has written around forty books, mainly for children, and particularly likes writing historical fiction.
So this one is about three children in a village during the Black Death. It's a fictional village, though the nearest city is named as Hereford, and the lord of the manor is a member of the de Breos family. It's interesting that each of the main characters is an outsider in some way - Ellen is a tinker's daughter, returning with her father to the village of his childhood, William is the lord of the manor's son, so set apart from all the other children in the village, and Sam has some sort of mental disorder which includes obsessive behaviour. It's not often that a writer "gets inside the head" of a child like that.
As I read, I was reminded of books like A Parcel of Patterns by Jill Paton Walsh, which also deals with a village dealing with the Plague, except this one is based on a true story, about the village of Eyam in 1665. Sure enough, it was mentioned in the bibliography at the back of the book, along with the magnificent Domesday Book, by Connie Willis, which involves time travel gone wrong - the time traveller was supposed to arrive years before the outbreak of plague in the village.
I do have one quibble, though - I'm pretty sure that the association of the Black Death with rat fleas was not known in the fourteenth century.
The Village is published by Books to Treasure, at

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