A bitingly funny historical novel, following Brother Diggory on an eerily prescient journey through fourteenth-century England.
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‘What the doctor ordered . . . a fiercely funny novel.’ Sunday Times
It is the year of our Lord 1349 and it is the season of the Plague.
Novice friar Brother Diggory, now sixteen, has lived in the Monastery of the Order of St Odo at Whye since his eighth birthday. But his life is about to change. The sickness is creeping ever closer and the monks must attend to the victims. When Brother Diggory is nominated to tend to those afflicted, he realises he is about to meet the Plague, and that it is more powerful than him. What he doesn’t realise is that encountering an illness and understanding it are two quite different things…
An uproarious and uplifting novel about sickness and health, the fashions of 14th Century medicine, and how perhaps we’re never quite as cutting-edge as we might like to believe.
There is a cure for pandemic gloom. What you need to do is read a funny novel about an even more deadly plague, the Black Death of the 14th century. Hurdy Gurdy is that novel . . . this novel is as short and funny as Dudley Moore. A read made for plague-fogged brains.
Of the Covid-inflected novels expected this year, few will be as weirdly entertaining as this cautionary tale.
The Black Death seems an improbable subject for a comic novel, but Wilson takes up the challenge, and the result is fiercely funny.
Hurdy Gurdy bubbles with a convivial, earthy humour and Brother Diggory is an amusing antihero. The prose is highly evocative, full of flesh and blood . . . This is an entertaining and atmospheric picaresque – though in the midst of our own pandemic, Wilson’s satire of misguided churchmen and unscientific plague doctors feels somewhat quaint: our own leaders appear far more monstrous. Still, it is often ingenious and frequently hilarious. Brother Diggory kills many, yet survives to tell the tale. I for one am glad.
Ribald yet deeply touching.
Christopher Wilson’s 10th novel, set against the backdrop of a medieval pestilence, is salutary: not only does it serve as a reminder that we’ve prevailed over this sort of thing before, it’s also genuinely and therapeutically funny.
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