They dug up his bones. They didn’t know he had a mind of his own.
Under tennis courts in the ruins of a great abbey, archaeologists find the remains of St Edmund, once venerated as England’s patron saint, but lost for half a millennium.
Culture Secretary Marina Spencer, adored by those who have never met her, scents an opportunity. She promotes Edmund as a new patron saint for the United Kingdom, playing up his Scottish, Welsh and Irish credentials. Unfortunately these are pure fiction, invented by Mark Price, her downtrodden aide, in a moment of panic.
The only person who can see through the deception is Mark’s cousin Hannah, a member of the dig team. Will she blow the whistle or help him out? And what of St Edmund himself, watching through the prism of a very different age?
Splicing ancient and modern as he did in The Hopkins Conundrum and A Right Royal Face-Off, Simon Edge pokes fun at Westminster culture and celebrates the cult of a medieval saint in another beguiling and utterly original comedy.
Eye & Lightning Books (Free UK P&P):
Simon Edge was born in Chester and read philosophy at Cambridge University.
He was editor of the pioneering London paper Capital Gay before becoming a gossip columnist on the Evening Standard and then a feature writer on the Daily Express, where he was also a theatre critic for many years. He has an MA in Creative Writing from City University, London, where he also taught literary criticism.
He is the author of three previous novels: The Hopkins Conundrum, which was longlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award, The Hurtle of Hell and A Right Royal Face-Off.
He lives in Suffolk.
This is very funny, a bit silly and a lot entertaining. Former patron saint, Saxon King, and the reason Bury St Edmunds is called that, St Edmund’s remains are found in near-future Britain, under the remains of the Abbey that bears his name.
Restored to his rightful place in the church, he suddenly finds himself the centre of attention, despite having been dead for about a thousand years.
Culture Secretary Marina Spencer, a ghastly woman ( the bit about her eyebrows made me laugh) posits him as the patron saint of the UK, her minions do some very sloppy research, chaos and ancient Saint powers ensue.
I am interested in medieval history, and that bit historians don’t like calling the Dark Ages (historical Twitter gets very upset) as well. We don’t know a huge amount about it, record keeping being done mainly by a few monks, and people like Edmund sort of don’t have very complete biographies.
Which is where the mischief lies – a few fabrications and the fact most people are too lazy to check the sources, mean you can say pretty much anything, as Mark does, but normally there are no real consequences.
This was a very entertaining read, and a snapshot of post-Brexit Britain that doesn’t sound too horrifying, just a bit nuts. I also really liked the monk, Brother Bernard, he was good.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.