One of the bullet points written about this latest novel by Robert Harris indicates that it is unlike anything he has done before. That statement is very much true. Harris always gives us a well-written book, a plot second to none, and of course characters that are painted in the most mesmerizing manner with portraits of them that allow each to live for the reader. The plot is a very pleasant surprise and not what the reader expects. But assuredly the change in the novel’s direction is one that will be well received and quite satisfying.
Christopher Fairfax, a young priest arrives in a remote village in the hinterland of England in the year of the book 1468. He was sent there in order to hold services for the village’s previous priest who had just passed away. The area around the town is overrunning with ancient artifacts such as glass, human bones, paintings and other miscellaneous memorabilia stemming from long ago. The previous priest had been an ardent collector and exhibitor of what he found. He was killed in a freak fall while moving around in one of the areas he had been working in.
Fairfax becomes fascinated by the collection and determines he will make an inroad into the meaning of what is freely available on the ground. He will work in the area and become amazed at what he is unearthing. His very faith is shaken to the core by the interpretation of the findings and. he is almost killed in the search and also finds time to have a romantic interlude with one of the ladies living there.
The strength of Robert Harris’s book lies in what is discovered and the facts this leads to. It is only fair to say that this is certainly one of the author’s best books and any more of the plot revealed would surely take away the joy of following the path Harris makes. A very well done novel and another in the series of excellent books created by Robert Harris.
11/19 Paul Lane
THE SECOND SLEEP by Robert Harris. Knopf (November 19, 2019). ISBN 978-0525656692. 320p.