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The Strand Magazine ( special offer )
The Sussex Beekeeper at the Dawn of Time is an unconventional and breath-taking tour de force that flirts with the crossover and steampunk genres. The book knits together a transcribed oral memoir, newspaper clippings, and myriad letters and journal pages from across two millennia, much of it held together by the pithy comments (in the form of short notations on the edges of a century-and-a-quarter-old yellowed journal) of a certain elderly beekeeper residing in Sussex, England. While comparatively few, these notes are nonetheless the essential marble skeleton on which the whole denouement and structure of the book hangs. In a sense, much of the book comprises a straightforward objective record of the excavation of "historical" minutiae and “forgotten” manuscripts. But then those mildewed scraps of parchment, paper, and scrolls are assembled into something far greater than the sum of their parts. The objective reportage plus the finished assemblage comprises the novel.
“Any lover of Rider Haggard's works will be intrigued to see the innovative use of his main hero in what is a most unusual and original book. Throwing all traditional story-telling formats firmly out of the window the author has woven a book of many possibilities. If the traditional story-telling plot is what you want, then yes there are parts that fit that bill. On the other hand, if you want a real challenge and an intriguing thought-provoking read then this is worth a try.”— Roger Allen, Rider Haggard Society