Sacred Hunger – Barry Unsworth

[asa left]0393311147[/asa] This is one of those historical novels that puts hooks into you. Sometimes you want to put it down because the subject matter can be so painful, but you can’t. The story makes demands of the reader, and you follow along.

The story revolves around a slaver called the Liverpool Merchant setting out for Africa and from there to the sugar islands. Mathew Paris, a doctor recently released from prison in Norwich, is (at least for the first part of the novel) the main character. The story throws a great shadow, touching on men’s clubs and sugar plantations to a haven set up by escaped slaves and sailors on the Florida coast. It is that Utopia that stays with me most vividly.

Unsworth is a master storyteller; he juggles dozens of characters and a complex plot effortlessly; he has a deft touch with historical detail and beyond those blessings, he really can write a beautiful sentence.

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