"Back last summer you sent me Crane Pond, and although it took me a long time to get to it,, I wanted to tell you how much I have relished it, and to ask if you would pass my good wishes and late congratulations to Richard Francis. It seems to me historical fiction written with integrity and skill, from an author who knows how to deploy his background knowledge to get inside his subject’s skin. I like it that he meets his people on their own ground, instead of regarding them as aliens inspected through the wrong end of a telescope. He trusts the reader to come to an evaluation, without coercive prompting, and allows the sense of a wider community to arrive on the page without the need for a huge freight of information. I think readers appreciate this - being treated as if they have a critical intelligence to bring to the enterprise. It’s also a warm and witty novel, defying cliched expectations of its material. It gives a complete world-picture, offers the reader an alternative place to go and live for a time, and a new language to speak. In short, it goes straight on to my (small) list of historical novels that draw out the capacities of the form and allow readers to brush against the pleasures and terrors of the past."