Historical Novels; Friday Fiction
kathy stevenson THE BALLAD OF JOHN CLARE by HugH LuPton (Dedalus Press [pounds sterling]9.99) Three novels about poet John Clare have now been published within a short space of each other -- and why not? his story is, after all, the stuff of which fiction is made.
In this beautifully-crafted book, Lupton has focused on one pivotal year of Clare's life; one that foretells the misery and mental problems that would beset him in later years. But this is not a book about just one man; it is about a society undergoing colossal upheavals from which the english countryside and its people have never recovered, when the enclosures Act brings with it riches for some but poverty for many.
Lupton has brought to bear his vast understanding of english folklore and culture, and produced an exceptional evocation of an england lost.
POPPY'S WAR by LiLy baxter (Arrow [pounds sterling]5.99) ThIrTeen-year-old east end girl Poppy Brown is among the earliest of the evacuees to be sent out of London, before war has even been declared. Billeted with a Dorset family on a large estate, she has a mixed time of it. The only people to show her any real kindness are the son of the house, with whom she is smitten, and his fiancee. …