Ian Hislop

Disease, Decay, Death

Hawksmoor

By

Hamish Hamilton 320pp £9.95 order from our bookshop

Towards the end of Peter Ackroyd’s first novel, The Great Fire of London, he says; ‘This is not a true story but certain things follow from other things.’ It is a good description of his latest novel, Hawksmoor, which is again concerned with an imaginative examination of the nature of cause and effect across time. Again the setting of the book is London and whereas previously the London of Dickens darkly influenced the modern city, this time it is an even older London of the early eighteenth century that reaches out to disturb the present. Indeed, Ackroyd seems to go one stage further and suggest that not only is the present saturated with the past, but somehow the past is permeated by the events of the present. The result is an extraordinary novel which takes place in both 1700 and today, yet which is not two narratives but one continuous story.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,
    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,