An Instance of the Fingerpost

An Instance of the Fingerpost

Book - 1998
Average Rating:
4
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Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, c1998
ISBN: 9781573220828
1573220825
9781573227957
1573227951
Branch Call Number: FICTION PEARS
Characteristics: 691 p. ; 24 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

If you’re drawn to historical mystery aspect of Catton’s Luminaries, you’ll enjoy Pears’ prizewinning story of a murder in Oxford during the Restoration, which features no less than five narrators - all highly colorful, and all but one highly unreliable. Based on a real incident and featuring a n... Read More »

A murder takes place in 1660s Oxford during a period of scientific and political upheaval. Pears gives us four different versions of the truth.


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Pat_Kelly
Mar 25, 2017

This historical fiction is very well conceptualized and written. It does take time to enter the author's world and to appreciate the depth and details of the mystery. The writing itself is very good and the time/place of the story fully realized. The conceit of telling the story from multiple perspectives allows the reader to almost treat the story as a mystery and tease out hints and clues from each individual's story. While the resolution at the end will disappoint many secular readers, it provides ample food for thought.

k
kevinjtate
Dec 24, 2016

The premise, setting, and attempt to write the same events from different perspectives is interesting. However, the lack of editing and that each character sounds the same detracts. If you are thinking of reading this book, don't, there are too many good books out there to waste your time on this one.

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gendeg
Nov 07, 2014

Iain Pears digs deep into religion and science in this compelling period mystery set in Oxford, England in 1663. An Instance of the Fingerpost is the kind of lengthy, slow burn of a book that reveals itself only to the most observant and committed of readers, but with an explosive payoff that's well worth the wait. The book is lengthy, and the time period obscure for most contemporary readers, so be ready to jump in with a strong stomach and a clear mind.

The driving force of every mystery is to figure out what really happened. In An Instance of the Fingerpost that discovery is no easy feat. A murder has been committed, and someone, Sarah Blundy, is eventually accused, convicted, and executed. Pears gives us four different narrators, each with their own account of what took place, and it's up to us to weed out the delicate thread of truth from the mishmash of half-truths, contradictions, and misdirection. It's a book told in layers upon layers of deception, with Pears ever so slowly peeling back those layers, until we're finally left with the truth at the end…or are we?

r
Russ_A
Aug 05, 2010

I usually enjoy books where the same story is told from the viewpoint of several characters. The Embezzler by Louis Auchincloss and English Passengers by Matthew Kneale are two of my all-time favorite books. So I hoped this one, having that same characteristic, would join those, but I was mildly disappointed. It's not bad, but it really did not come off as credible to me. The author tried to write in a style suggesting 17th Century scholars might have written it, but there was too much dialogue and modernism, thus spoiling the effect. He also overdid the religious bigotry, sexism, chauvinism, and scientific ignorance and arrogance of the age. The big surprise at the end was something of a let down for me.

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