Synopses & Reviews
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, is an exquisite work that captivates by its power, while opening up the distant past as new to the reader.
"With mood and setting crisply and chillingly evoked, favorable comparisons to The Name of the Rose are in order ..." Kirkus
"The Booker Prize-winning author of Sacred Hunger now offers a medieval mystery filled with the wonders of the time and lessons for our time. 'A bravura performace....The novel is a thought-provoking comedy on the eternal sameness of disaster and the recurrent uses we put to it in art." Janet Burroway, New York Times Book Review
"The entire novel is brilliantly imagined....It is a dramatic meditation on the relationship between life and play." San Francisco Chronicle
"Morality Play is a book of subtlety, compassion, and skill, and it confirms Barry Unsworth's position as a master craftsman of contemporary British fiction." Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Morality Play is a bravura performance....The novel is thought provoking comedy on the eternal sameness of disaster and the recurrent uses we put it to in art. On the way we toy with morality and also play our way to the truth." Janet Burroway, New York Times Book Review
Nicholas Barber is a 23-year-old monk in a troupe of traveling players who arrive in a small town where a mute and deaf girl awaits execution for the crime of murder. Barber and the other players go through the town, gathering the stories of this murder from the villagers, which they weave into their next performance. The dangerous truth contained in their drama arouses the attention of Lord de Guise, the local potentate, who summons them to his castle for a private performance. Unsworth's historical novel is convincingly steeped in the sights, sounds, and smells of the middle ages.
The national bestseller: A medieval murder mystery full of the wonders of the time--and lessons for our own time--by a master storyteller.
About the Author
Barry Unsworth (1930-2012), who won the Booker Prize for Sacred Hunger, was a Booker Prize finalist for Morality Play and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize for The Ruby in Her Navel.