Thursday, April 23, 2020

"Simple Prayers" by Michael Golding - a medieval sitcom

Hello, commies!
Another oldie but goody. I read this novel the old fashioned way: actually picked up a paperback at Waldenbooks (does that name ring a bell?) At any rate, if you want to add another gem to your pandemic list, consider Michael Golding's Simple Prayers

The novel, even though it is sat in Medieval Europe, is structured very much like a sitcom. There are stereotypical characters that one may expect from a sitcom: the town stud (Gianluca), the town geek (Albertino), the fat girl (Ermenegilda), the mysterious hottie (Miriam), the mandatory abusive single mom (Valentina) and the freaky child (Piarina). The interaction between the characters is very generic and stylized. You can predict right away who will fall in love with whom. What you can not predict is the horrible outcome of the novel. The plot takes a sudden turn, and the small town idyll falls apart.

I have no idea why the book critics called it "delightful". "Delightful" is not the word that comes to mind when you think about plague wiping out a whole village. There is nothing life-affirming in this book. If the reader expects a happy ending, he/she will feel deceived in the end. The book does not end with a wedding. It ends with a mass funeral.

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