rating: 3 of 5 stars
Lambs of London is the fictionalized account of siblings Mary & Charles Lamb. The Lambs are best known as the authors of the children’s book Tales from Shakespeare. The novel is set in 19th century London where Mary & Charles fill their lives with literature, particularly the works of Shakespeare. Charles passes his time by working a boring job as a clerk and drinking to excess with his friends, while Mary is trapped at home caring for her parents. Mary feels desperately lonely whenever Charles isn’t home and loses herself in literature to fill the emptiness. The Lambs meet William Ireland, the son of a local book seller, who informs them that he has a benefactor that has given him access to a cache of papers and documents that had belonged to her dead husband. Amongst these papers is what appears to be a long lost play by Shakespeare. Some doubt the authenticity of the papers, but Mary staunchly believes that they were true Shakespeare artifacts.
I checked out Lambs of London from the library since it was on the list of 1001 Books you Must Read Before You Die. I was rather disappointed with the book as a whole. Although the novel is based on historical events, Ackroyd took some liberties with history and dates. The Lambs of London reminded me a bit of The Poe Shadow, which I read a couple of months ago. Both are works of historical fiction about authors. The Poe Shadow was a grueling read for me that I didn’t deem worthy of a review. The Lambs of London was a step up from that, but it still didn’t quite capture my interest. It may have been Ackroyd’s narrative style which was very slow and plodding at first and then towards the end of the book things became almost too rushed. It almost made me do a double take. The story took so long to develop and then all of a sudden lots of things started happening one after the other. The story just didn’t engage me the way that I hoped it would.