Monday, 12 October 2015

dominion; morris performance

Today (that is, Sunday - I see this has published a minute after midnight, so it'll show as Monday) I finished Dominion by CJ Sansom, an alternate history thriller set in a 1952 in which Britain surrendered after Dunkirk. I enjoyed it quite a lot, though more for the alternate history than the thriller. In general, whether on page or screen, I'm averse to stress, danger and tension in fiction, so I'm not a great one for thrillers or certain kinds of crime stories, for example. Even in a comedy or a children's programme, if someone is doing something as simple as looking for something in someone else's room, I don't like it. So I wasn't big on the specific plot, but I liked very much the carefully thought-through alternate world in which it happened.

There was quite a bit at the end of the book by CJ Sansom about how he wrote it, and the thinking behind it. He mentioned that Robert Harris's Fatherland was, in his view, the best novel of this kind, and I think I had read that somewhere else around the time I picked up Dominion, because I picked up Fatherland somewhere subsequently and will give it a go too.

Perhaps the thing I'll remember most for longest is how in that post-novel section he speaks very strongly against Scottish nationalism in particular (the book was published in 2012, when the 2014 Scottish independence referendum run-up was already under way), in the context of the dangers of the rise of European nationalism in modern times and the lessons we need to learn from 20th century history of the dangers of nationalism. In the novel, as in the afterword, he identifies the SNP as being appeasing of and insufficiently opposed to Nazism.

I had previously picked up one of his Shardlake historical detective novels set in London, so I'll certainly read that in due course.

I had a big final push on Dominion this weekend courtesy of long bus journeys to and from Croydon yesterday, where Morris Folk Choir were singing at a musical benefit evening in memory of Marian's brother Jim, at Ruskin House. We were a smaller choir than usual on the night, and for some the music was a background to their socialising, but those who were paying attention seemed to appreciate it.