Finding Camlann

“In one sense [books] are the most fragile of creations, they may burn or crumble to dust, while in their essence, as arrangements of words and ideas, they are utterly imperishable.”

Sean Pidgeon

This is the reason why I am not allowed in bookshops. The other day, I went out to buy a pint of milk and came back with three new books. OK, two of them were sort of related to my degree, but this one, Sean Pidgeon’s debut novel Finding Camlann, is not. My thought process went, “A novel about Arthur? And libraries? And OXFORD?! I have to read this!!”

Finding Camlann follows archaeologist Donald Gladstone and Oxford English Dictionary employee Julia Llewellyn in a search for the origins of King Arthur in the rainy hills of Wales and the dusty libraries of Oxford. It’s a gentle, quiet, meditative novel, steeped in the sorrows of the Welsh in the face of English appropriation. It’s well written, with believable characters and lyrical description.

For some reason, though, I didn’t enjoy it all that much. Perhaps the plot was too slow to engage my attention; perhaps there was less magic and mystery in it than I thought there would be. Mainly, though, I think it was that I couldn’t really sympathise much with Julia’s adultery, because I’m old-fashioned like that. I don’t really like reading about broken marriages. But I think someone else might like this novel a lot more, because it is a nice story with a lovely bookish twist. Fans of The Historian will probably enjoy this.

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