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When the Black Death enters England through the port of Melcombe in Dorseteshire 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 religious 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 Develish when news of this pestilence reaches her, she takes the decision to look for more sensible ways to protect her people than daily confessions of sin. Well-versed in the importance of isolating the sick from the well, she withdraws her people inside the moat that surrounds her manor house and refuses entry even to her husband.
She 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 and 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?
Compelling and suspenseful, The Last Hours is a riveting tale of human ingenuity and endurance against the worst pandemic known to history. In Lady Anne of Develish - leader, saviour, heretic - Walters has created her most memorable heroine to date.
Horrible, anachronistic, 2 dimensional characters. The hero is an ex-nun who gets lucky when dastardly 1 dimensional husband cops a dose of plague. At last she can be the radical socialist she's always dreamed of being and is free to take out years of frustration on her daughter (who was caught doing the 'dirty' in the chapel). The other 'hero' is a handsome serf , of course, who gives mad daughter the hots but has a crush on ex-nun. At some point he is frightened by a cat. So, you think that doesn't sound too bad? If only Stephen King had written it. AND when you get to the end, you realize that it is just book 1 of a trilogy! The author stretched this garbage out for three books????? I hate everything about this novel. If it was a bubo, I'd squeeze it. Painfully.
A great read - couldn't put it down
I love to read novels that incorporate history. I have just begun reading novels that are set in the time of the Black Plague.
Well worth reading.
Although the book is fiction one feels that it could all be a true depiction of an awful time in history.
Good reading for older grandchildren!
a brilliant read
The Last Hours is the eighteenth novel by British author, Minette Walters, and is a departure from her usual genre of crime/psychological thriller: this one is historical fiction. It's June 1348, and the Plague has just arrived in England. The population is completely unprepared for the devastation this disease will wreak, but a scant few demesnes are better equipped to handle it than most. A Saxon, Lady Anne of Develish in Dorsetshire was raised by nuns; she has been quietly running the demesne in an efficient and compassionate way underneath the radar of her cruel Norman husband.
Sir Richard of Develish departs for another demesne to set up his spoilt fourteen-year-old daughter in an advantageous marriage but Gyles Startout, Anne's informant in Richard's retinue, soon realises there is a sickness afflicting the nearby village. Potent and virulent, it appears to be something that kills quickly with few survivors. By the time Sir Richard decides to return to Develish, its already too late for many of his party.
In response to an announcement from the Bishop of Sarum regarding "A Black Death", Anne takes the unconventional step of bringing the demesne's bondsmen to live on the land contained within the moat that Sir Richard had, in his vanity, built as a folly. Her plan to isolate them from the rest of the population is a revolutionary measure that proves to be the salvation of Develish and its serfs.
On her husband's return, she insists on his party being quarantined, a move that angers young Lady Eleanor and also attracts censure from Hugh de Courtesmain, Sir Richard's Norman steward. As does her later appointment of a serf as Steward. Thus they survive, free of the pestilence, for some months, but how long will they last on the food they have stored? And how will they avoid attack from raiding parties? Then a teenaged boy dies, and Anne's steward takes drastic action.
Walters gives the reader a fascinating look into the mid-fourteenth Century, bringing his
The Last Hours
Minette Walters is England's best-selling female crime writer. She has won the CWA John Creasey Award for best first crime novel, the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best crime novel published in America and two CWA Gold Daggers for Fiction.
ISBN: 9781760294984 ISBN-10: 1760294985 Audience:
Number Of Pages: 608 Published: 27th September 2017 Publisher: Allen & Unwin Country of Publication: AU Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3