Newes From The Dead by Mary Hooper
|Newes From The Dead by Mary Hooper|
|Reviewer: Hannah Crookes|
|Summary: An absorbing story about one girl's fight for life against all the odds. This unusual tale is based on true historical events, making it all the more fascinating. With such relatable characters, readers will get sucked in to Anne Green's story.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: March 2009|
Anne Green was hanged for murder on a cold winter morning. Her corpse is one of the five corpses a year the Oxford doctors are allowed to dissect. But as the scholars, doctors, and gentlemen gather to watch, they get a terrible fright. Her eyelid flickers and there is a noise from her throat. Could it be that she is not dead? And yet she does not move. The gentlemen face a great puzzle. Is Anne alive, or was it simply muscle spasms? And if she yet lives, is her soul still within her body, or is it an empty shell?
As we learn more about Anne and the events resulting in her lying on that cold dissection slab, sympathy for her grows. Anne is trapped in a dark place, she cannot move, she cannot speak, and she does not know where she is. All she can do is go through the events in her head, trying to work out what's happened.
This was a gripping story made all the more interesting by the fact that it is based on the truth. In 1650, a woman called Anne Green was hung for infanticide and was revived. Mary Hooper has clearly done meticulous research on this event. The story feels authentic and believable, yet also personal. The writing is clever, weaving between Anne's recount of the past and a scholar's involvement in her revival. This adds pace to the book although there is limited action, much of the story taking place in a single room. Anne is believably naive and ignorant, definitely a victim of her time and circumstances. As the reader already knows that her story leads to the dissection table, she seems doomed from the beginning, evoking sympathy. At times however, I found her to be too immature and trusting, which made her character a little flat. On the other hand, the other main character Robert was nicely characterised. He is one of the scholars who have been invited to observe the dissection. For many years, Robert has been afflicted with a severe stammer, yet when he is alone with the still body of Anne he can speak perfectly.
Anne's life as a maid in a large house was clearly described, her fellow servants and family were interesting. Her life contrasts to the more privileged lives of the scholars and doctors. There were several nice moments with the scholars, although as characters they tended to blur together in my head. I found the reaction of Sir Thomas to the events was unbelievably excessive, but other than that, this was a convincing story. On the back of the book, it says that it's 'not suitable for younger readers.' I agree with this as it deals with death, seduction, and childbirth. This is not handled in a particularly gruesome manner, but may upset younger readers. Despite small problems, Newes from the Dead is ultimately a well-written and interesting read.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals then we think that you might also enjoy By Royal Command by Mary Hooper.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Newes From The Dead by Mary Hooper at Amazon.com.
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