Saturday, November 5, 2016

Erasmus T. Muddiman: A Tale of Publick Distemper by Katherine Pym

It is London 1665, a year fraught with strange and unearthly events. Comets fly low in the sky while merchants clamor for war. 

Eleven year old Erasmus T. Muddiman attends St Paul’s School with his younger brother. He enjoys Latin but hates to create Latin verses, preferring the new sciences as seen at the Royal Society. He plays football with the lads in Paul’s Yard, shimmies up the drainpipe outside his bedchamber window and he saves his brother, Desiderius, from all sorts of scrapes. 

Soon, Erasmus cannot avoid the rumors of war. Men and boys are press-ganged, taken to ships or the dockyards. Plague enters the city. As school fellows disappear, Erasmus and his family meet a terrible fate of survival. Who will live and who will die?


Of all the books I've read in my life, I have to say that I find the title of this novel the most creating and enchanting I've ever encountered. 

The year is 1665. Erasmus is the unlikely protagonist, a young teenage schoolboy living in London in the era before the time of the Great Fire of London. A horrendous plague is raging through the city, randomly killing hundreds. Even Erasmus's school is not immune as students succumb to the plague or are press-ganged into military ships. One such gang captures Erasmus and he soon finds himself at sea. 

As he struggles to get accustomed to sea life, the unpredictable happens. The ship blows up. Erasmus is badly burned and clings to life. Slowly, he recovers, and only one thought will not give him rest - to escape and return home to check on his family's welfare in the face of the plague.  

The author knows how to imbue a sense and flavor of the times on every page. The plight of Erasmus, a young boy thrust among men long before his time is most poignant. I couldn't help falling in love with his humanity and courage. The prose is highly readable and can transcend both gender and age! This is a wonderful adventure story packed with emotion. Highly recommended. 

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