Concerning a power hungry capitalist on the hunt for immortality, a young and sceptical journalist sent to find the next major headline, the original manuscript for Augustinian mystic Walter Hilbon’s 12th century ‘Guide to a full Christian life’, and Old Shepley, an illiterate man carrying the burden of having lived a lifetime, a couple thousand years longer than most…
This is the classical tale of the eternal wonderer, the Ancient Mariner figure, but with a decisively modern twist!
A complex, multifaceted plot employing multiple character voices and time frames, ‘The Peculiar Tale of Old Shepley’ will, as a novel, certainly surprise you- not least for its sheer creativity and honesty. Written in a relaxed, colloquial fashion, the humorous and often sarcastic authorial voice will not fail to amuse. Forced to ‘move on’ every few decades, due to the nature of his immortality,Old Shepley’s tale is full of variety and bizarre happenings.
Centred around, and never straying too far from what is now the industrial city of Nottingham,Thompson exploits Shepley’s long life time in an exploration of the history of the region, mapping the change in landscape from 1066 and the Battle of Stamford Bridge; the descent of the plague, then Cholera; making us privy to the humble origins of the legend that is Robin Hood (in fact, Robyn Hode); through to the political unrest of the 1830s -with Old Shepley finding his vocation in leading, for a time, Nottingham’s own radical Chartist group ‘The Nottingham Lambs’- right up until the present day.
“His only motivation…. was to finally get the events of the centuries that had past off his chest”.
Completely unexpected and impossible to predict, Old Shepley’s tale is full of laughs, and full of woe.
Humorous and easy to read, this incredibly imaginative tale will be simply inhaled by whoever is lucky enough to chance upon it.
Amidst the fun however, the age-old, wise, sorrowful voice of Old Shepley will startle the reader with its deep poignancy and truth.
“His company was the wind and sun… how he wished he could swap places with those creatures; blissful in their ignorance of the pain that life could deliver”.
On the subject of love and loss shines a light that illuminates somewhat differently, born of the experience of a millennium, an insatiable loneliness, and a resulting, somewhat existential and nihilistic view that can never peak due to an inability to die- something which is revealed ultimately as a curse, rather than the blessing that one might expect.
“…An Old Testament God carefully watching over his creation. He was alone again.”
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