Friday, July 17, 2009
Time for another Favorite Reads the meme started by Alyce at At Home with Books. The Brother Caedfael series, by Ellis Peters is certainly a memory worth re-visiting. I read the first one, shown here just as it first came out (mid-to late '70s), and couldn't wait to get the next. We managed to pick up the entire set at a bookstore in Hong Kong in the '80's....I'm thrilled they were paperbacks, because they weighed enough in my luggage on the way back to our then home in Japan. They now have pride of place on their own shelf in my library: we find them delightful re-reads, as well as great short video features on DVD, and I always suggest them to visiting guests who might want 'a little something' to read before bedtime. Set in the late middle ages, (the first begins in 1137), the stories depict life in Middle England, at the abbey of Shrewsbury (we even had to detour there on a drive around the UK a few years ago just to see the town.) Caedfael, Welsh by birth, comes to the monastic life at a mature age, after a life of crusading in the Middle East. Consequently, his world view and his ability to accept people as they are, even if they're different, makes him a likeable and believable character, as well as a brilliant crime solver. Often, he is even able to prevent 'crimes' by his willingness to listen and the sage advice he gives. He brought with him a knowledge of healing, and so was appointed to be infirmarian, and thus the master herb gardener for the Abbey. This job allows him more freedom of movement through the surrounding town and farmlands. He is friends with the sheriff--the chief law enforcement officer of the town--and well regarded by just about everyone. In each chronicle (there are 20 volumes in the series published between '77 and '94) there is always someone who is jealous of Caedfael's abilities, and who tries to trip him up. His quiet, deductive, intuitive sleuthing is sure to please most readers. While Peters often divulges the culprit during the story, it is always interesting to see how Caedfael reaches his conclusions. Without doing spoilers, there's even some romance in manyof the episodes, with Caedfael playing the role of fairy godfather. Well worth a try if you like good mysteries, good writing, and pleasant endings.