The national bestseller: A medieval murder mystery full of the wonders of the time―and lessons for our own time―by a master storyteller.The time is the fourteenth century. The place is a small town in rural England, and the setting a snow-laden winter. A small troupe of actors accompanied by Nicholas Barber, a young renegade priest, prepare to play the drama of their lives. Breaking the longstanding tradition of only performing religious plays, the groups leader, Martin, wants them to enact the murder that is foremost in the townspeoples minds. A young boy has been found dead, and a mute-and-deaf girl has been arrested and stands to be hanged for the murder. As members of the troupe delve deeper into the circumstances of the murder, they find themselves entering a political and class feud that may undo them. Intriguing and suspenseful, Morality Play is an exquisite work that captivates by its power, while opening up the distant past as new to the reader.
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National BestsellerFrom the Publisher:
Barry Unsworth, author of the Booker Prize-winnings Sacred Hunger, turns to 14th-century England with a novel of foul doings in the time of The Name of the Rose.
In Morality Play, Barry Unsworth, indisputably the finest writer of literate historical fiction alive today, brings 14th-century England to vibrant life, transporting us back to this "distant mirror" to show us a world that, beneath its medieval trappings, is full of the same corruption and moral dilemmas that we face today. Nicholas Barber is a 23-year-old monk who, fearing the wrath of his bishop for breaking his vows of chastity, takes up with a troupe of traveling players. Coming to a small town in the middle of winter, the troupe puts on its usual morality play, only to get caught up in a drama of a different kind. A murder has taken place and a mute-and-deaf girl stands condenmed, awaiting execution. Seeing an opportunity to attract a large audience, the players go through the town collecting information, which they weave into their second performance. As they perform, though, the story grows, as does the audience. Soon they learn that what makes for good drama is far closer to the dangerous truth than they originally imagined and they attract the concerned attention of the local potentate, the powerful Lord de Guise, who summons them to his castle for a "private performance." Morality Play is a brilliant novel that holds us in its powerful grip as it deftly portrays how art can, quite literally, reveal truth.
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