I bought this book before travelling to London, along with two others that fulfilled the criteria I had decided upon: it must be a novel by an author I haven't read yet, and it must feature London in the title. Update: I love-hated book:London Fields 18830, and London Orbital has not managed to keep me within its orbit for more than a page or two at a time, so it is slow motion reading. We know that the mentally weak heroine is passionately in love with the forger, even though it is a complete mystery to the people she lives with, as well as to herself at times. As for the forgeries themselves, I had a hard time believing that people would have acted in that naive way, even though I know that William Ireland actually did get away with forgery.
The Lambs of London deals with Charles and Mary Lamb (if you were expecting a story about anthropomorphic sheep then you need to look elsewhere). Normally they are portrayed as a slightly fluffy brother-sister duo who liked reading and wrote a nice book for kiddy-winks, however they both had fraught personal lives, and suffered from mental illness. The Lambs of London is a little different because Ackroyd departs from the supernatural theme which he has inserted into his other historical fiction and instead juxtaposes the story of the Lambs' with that of William Ireland.
Equally preposterous, Mr Ackroyd attributes Mary Lambs contribution to their co-authored Tales from Shakespeare (a childrens book which simplifies the language and plots of twenty plays) to Thomas de Quincey, the essayist best known for his Confessions of an English Opium Eater. Probably because of the title: I actually expected more about the Lambs, though I had no previous knowledge of the story of William Ireland.
In effetti si narra principalmente di un giovane falsario di belle speranze e grandi velleità letterarie, William Ireland, peraltro personaggio realmente esistito, che riesce quasi a gabbare nomi altisonanti del mondo artistico/culturale del suo tempo riuscendo a far passare e, far rappresentare, come lavori del grande bardo una tragedia e altri presunte opere che erano in realtà dei falsi magistralmente scritti da egli stesso.
Unless I miss something, it's just a run-of-the-mill mystery book, a little in the style of, but a good deal less intriguing than the works of Joan Aiken (none of which appear on the list...).
Plot: This is the semi-biographical story of Charles and Mary Lamb, avid readers and fanatical in their love of Shakespeare, as they meet William Ireland an antiquarian book dealer who has made an unusual discovery. All I knew of Charles and Mary Lamb was that they turned Shakespeare's plays into prose tales, I had an illustrated collection that I loved as a kid. The gowns were discoloured, the pipes on display would never be smoked and the workshop seemed untended.' I also really liked how the author wrote the characters of Charles and Mary and their incredibly strong sibling relationship. Mary is not a character in a play. Charles and Mary's father is suffering from dementia. I felt like these connections were written very well, and in a relateable way.
I did not realize until the end that it was based on real persons, Charles and Mary Lamb, actually.
Ackroyd does start out focusing on the Lamb family, making an excellent character of Mary and focusing on her thoughts and feelings.
Peter Ackroyd CBE is an English novelist and biographer with a particular interest in the history and culture of London. S. Eliot's Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1948), was an early indication of Ackroyd's penchant for creatively exploring and reexamining the works of other London-based writers. Ackroyd has always shown a great interest in the city of London, and one of his best known works, London: The Biography, is an extensive and thorough discussion of London through the ages. His fascination with London literary and artistic figures is also displayed in the sequence of biographies he has produced of Ezra Pound (1980), T. Early in his career, Ackroyd was nominated a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1984 and, as well as producing fiction, biography and other literary works, is also a regular radio and television broadcaster and book critic.