A national bestseller and one of the New York Public Library’s Books to Remember, An Instance of the Fingerpost is a thrilling historical mystery from Iain Pears. AN INSTANCE OF THE FINGERPOST [Iain Pears] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Set in Oxford in the s – a time and place of great. An Instance of the Fingerpost [Iain Pears] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. In Oxford, a servant girl confesses to a murder. But four.

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But I will never know now as I know the whole story already.

He fingerpoxt convinced that Sarah Blundy is a witch. Published April 1st by Riverhead Books first published prars The book is split between four narrators, each describing essentially the same set of events from his own perspective. Given that the majority of historical fiction concentrates on fashion choices or possibly military manoeuvres, Fingerpost instznce far more subtle.

An historical fiction lovers delight. There’s a lovely bit in the musical film “Call Me Madam”, when a lyrical ballad is succeeded by a contrasting upbeat number – both good – then, miraculously they are sung at the same time, working brilliantly together watch it here – if you’re interested, but ignore Ethel Merman’s over-acting.

View all 32 comments. The title is a quotation borrowed from the 17th century philosopher Francis Bacon, who in his Novum Organum wrote about the nature of reasoning and the fallibility of evidence, but accounted for instances of the fingerpost – crucial instances which pointed in only one direction, sure and indissoluble, allowing for no other possibility.

This is a world if on the brink, not yet quite ready to let go of the old beliefs and superstitions yet beginning to question. Well-written tour de force set in Restoration Englandth century.

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What might we infer about Cromwellian England from the character—and memories—of his supporters and detractors?


The events of An Instance of The Fingerpost are set in motion by the death of an Oxford don and the subsequent trial of Sarah Blundy, the woman fihgerpost of his murder.

He runs around with the anatomist – Richard Lower – a historical figure. And should they exclude emotions such as love, compassion or even security when they adjudicate narratives or even merely report stand-alone facts if that’s possible as innstance He is followed by a third narrator who does the same, and then a fourth who seems more reliable than the other three though who knows, really? Books by Iain Pears.

The only good things I can say about this book are that it seemed to be far more thoroughly researched than most historical fiction, and the layout of the book was clever.

We hear the story of the death from four witnesses: Most of what the narrators reveal to us they believe to be true, but they are all guilty of their own suppositions colored by their own prejudices. In this long narrative we are lost in a wilderness of mirrors, doubting testimony, evidence and even confession, ultimately unsure of who is using or betraying whom.

In fact, he periodically receives offers to work for other governments, but he is as fervently patriotic for England as he is about saving the souls of black slaves. Four men of different backgrounds who recount the events that led to the murder and beyond. Pair’s characters are as xenophobic, ignorant, blustering, vain, bigoted, full of certitude, and as selfish as Donald Trump.

An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears – Reading Guide – : Books

The author definitely achieved that. Jul 09, Lara rated it liked it. My only complaint is that it is over-long and becomes tedious to the point where I was glad to finish it.

Which version is the truth? Torturing a corpse seems like an odd thing to do.

However, I do not like unreliable narrators, especially those that largely treat anyone that isn’t an affluent man with outright disrespect. This is one of those exceptionally rare historical novels that actually do seem to blend in with their intended time period. I would like to note that none of these reviewers expect to “like” the 17th century characters that play in the novel.


A fellow of New College is found dead in suspicious circumstances. Who poisoned garrulous Oxford Don Robert Grove? Murder, manslaughter, death by misadventure?

The scientists are deeply religious and superstitious. Why, then, might Pears have chosen to include Lear in his novel in particular? A fascinating book, creative, well-written and extremely well-researched.

An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears

Alas, the whole plot of this very long There is a murder and there is a dispossessed heir. Robert Grove, an amateur astrologer of New College, Oxford. What kind of responsibility, if any, do historical novelists have in their portrayal of actual historical events? Sep 26, Althea Ann rated it liked it. Once again my happiness at not living in the 17th century is validated as I read of te physical squalor, the political and religious unrest and distrust in England after the restoration of Charles II, the relative worthlessness of the average person’s life.

Even Oxford University, during a veritable golden age of scientific discovery and academic advancement, is depicted in fingerpist novel as a dangerous place for free-thinkers and outsiders. If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Oxford, England So, this was very well-written; I just spent too much time being pissed at the narrators to be bothered to give a more favorable rating.