Read between: 31st August-16th September
Published: November 2nd 2017
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Synopsis: When the Black Death enters England through the port in Dorsetshire in June 1348, no one knows what manner of sickness it is—or how it spreads and kills so quickly. The Church cites God as the cause, and fear grips the people as they come to believe that the plague is a punishment for wickedness.
But Lady Anne of Develish has her own ideas. Educated by nuns, Anne is a rarity among women, being both literate and knowledgeable. With her brutal husband absent from the manor when news of this pestilence reaches her, she looks for more sensible ways to protect her people than daily confessions of sin. She decides to bring her serfs inside the safety of the moat that surrounds her manor house, then refuses entry to anyone else, even her husband.
Lady Anne makes an enemy of her daughter and her husband’s steward by doing so, but her resolve is strengthened by the support of her leading serfs…until food stocks run low. The nerves of all are tested by continued confinement and ignorance of what is happening in the world outside. The people of Develish are alive. But for how long? And what will they discover when the time comes for them to cross the moat again?
Compelling and suspenseful, The Last Hours is a riveting tale of human ingenuity and endurance set against the worst pandemic in history. In Lady Anne of Develish—leader, savior, heretic—Walters has created her most memorable heroine to date.
Firstly, thank you to Netgalley (yes I have a backlog!) for letting me read this book in exchange for a review. As a fan of historical fiction I was very interested in reading a novel based around the Black Death as I hadn’t read one before. However, although I enjoyed it for the most parts, I’m afraid it let me down.
The range of different characters was actually great, as everyone had their role in town which was to be expected, from the Lady of the Manor, to her daughter, and the people who serve them. Unfortunately, the daughter, Eleanor, was such an arrogant child that I had to force myself through the book because I just couldn’t stand her.
As soon as people start to die, the story begins to take a turn and it was good reading how the characters reacted to their situation, with some leaving to seek out food and water that wasn’t contaminated- although this was to draw us away from a subplot about Eleanor being promiscuous with local boys.
Everything about that subplot was unnecessary- we didn’t need it.
The writing is good, and the characters feel like real people, I just found myself getting lost in various places.
There has been a lot research done into the area of the time, and of the black death, by the author, and this definitely added to the story- it put the situation into the real world, and although we know the Black Death happened, its different when you can imagine it happening as if you were there.
I did enjoy this book once I started to get into the story, there were just certain characters and historical inaccuracies (like the language used) that made me give the rating I did.
It was a good book, but I don’t think I’ll be reading the sequel any time soon.
Spoilt heiresses just don’t work on me.
Thanks for reading!