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by Barry Unsworth
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Genre Fiction
  • Author:
    Barry Unsworth
  • ISBN:
    0385509634
  • ISBN13:
    978-0385509633
  • Genre:
  • Publisher:
    Nan A. Talese; First Edition edition (October 17, 2006)
  • Pages:
    416 pages
  • Subcategory:
    Genre Fiction
  • Language:
  • FB2 format
    1497 kb
  • ePUB format
    1611 kb
  • DJVU format
    1771 kb
  • Rating:
    4.2
  • Votes:
    459
  • Formats:
    azw docx mobi lrf


Barry Unsworth's prose is superb and the setting fascinating.

Barry Unsworth's prose is superb and the setting fascinating. This historical novel revives beautifully a largely forgotten period of History: Palermo in the 12th century when the Normans had recently invaded the island and society was still divided between the previous governing class (the Arabs) and the new one (Norman-led).

The Ruby in Her Navel is a historical novel by Barry Unsworth first published in 2006. It was long listed for the Booker Prize that year. The story is set in 12th century Sicily and is centered on the Christianization of the Norman kingdom of Sicily. The story is set in 12th century Sicily and is centered on the Christianization of the Norman kingdom of Sicily under King Roger II. The book is narrated by Thurstan Beauchamp, a young man of English-Norman origins and describes Sicilian life through his eyes

Set in the Middle Ages during the brief yet glittering rule of the Norman kings, The Ruby in Her Navel is a tale in which the conflicts of the past portend the present.

Set in the Middle Ages during the brief yet glittering rule of the Norman kings, The Ruby in Her Navel is a tale in which the conflicts of the past portend the present. The novel opens in Palermo, in which Latin and Greek, Arab and Jew live together in precarious harmony. Thurstan Beauchamp, the Christian son of a Norman knight, works for Yusuf, a Muslim Arab, in the palace's central finance office, a job that includes the management of blackmail and bribes, and the gathering of secret information for the king.

A novel of palace intrigue set in 12th century Palermo. We are at the court of King Roger II, a Norman, who rules an ethnically diverse realm in which he tries to balance the rights of Christian and Muslim and Jew.

In other words, if you come to this book expecting to gallop off into a romantic tale of derring-do, you are likely to be disappointed

Unsworth's 1980 novel Pascali's Island - which was short-listed for the Booker - was made into a film starring Ben Kingsley and Helen Mirren. In other words, if you come to this book expecting to gallop off into a romantic tale of derring-do, you are likely to be disappointed. The emphasis here is less on action than on character and motivation, and the tempo overall is mostly andante moderato, not allegro vivace.

This is Barry Unsworth, the master of resonant historical fiction, on top form. In the kingdom of Sicily, Muslims and Christians live in uneasy alliance under the rule of King Roger, a tolerant monarch whose public goal is an open and peaceful society. But the ambitions of others always undermine such efforts, and the ambitions of Unsworth's hero are no exception.

Barry Unsworth’s novel is set in a multicultural medieval Sicily. Not surprisingly, its storytelling has plenty of contemporary resonance. Unsworth sets us down in a brilliantly realized society, a kingdom in which communal tensions are being exploited by cynics and fanatics after a blundering Western military adventure in the Middle East, a campaign that sacrificed stability for short-term gain.

A Novel of Love and Intrigue in the 12th Century. Set in the Middle Ages during the brief yet glittering rule of the Norman kings, The Ruby in Her Navel is a tale in which the conflicts of the past portend the present

A Novel of Love and Intrigue in the 12th Century. Set in the Middle Ages during the brief yet glittering rule of the Norman kings, The Ruby in Her Navel is a tale in which the conflicts of the past portend the present. Thurstan Beauchamp, the Christian son of a Norman knight, works for Yusuf, a Muslim Arab, in the palace’s central finance office, a job which includes the management of blackmail and bribes, and the gathering of secret information for the king.

O’HaganThe Testament of Gideon Mack by James RobertsonMother’s Milk by Edward St. AubynThe Ruby in her Navel by Barry UnsworthThe.

Mentioned in: Prizes. Booker Prize Longlist 2006. C. Max Magee 6. The Booker Prize longlist has arrived. Side of the Bridge by Mary LawsonSo Many Ways to Begin by Jon McGregorIn the Country of Men by Hisham MatarThe Emperor’s Children by Claire MessudBlack Swan Green by David MitchellThe Perfect Man by Naeem MurrBe Near Me by Andrew O’HaganThe Testament of Gideon Mack by James RobertsonMother’s Milk by Edward St. Night Watch by Sarah Waters. Related Books: Surprise Me! Browse by Author.

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Set in the Middle Ages during the brief yet glittering rule of the Norman kings, The Ruby in Her Navel is a tale in which the conflicts of the past portend the present. The novel opens in Palermo, in which Latin and Greek, Arab and Jew live together in precarious harmony. Thurstan Beauchamp, the Christian son of a Norman knight, works for Yusuf, a Muslim Arab, in the palace’s central finance office, a job which includes the management of blackmail and bribes, and the gathering of secret information for the king. But the peace and prosperity of the kingdom is being threatened, internally as well as externally. Known for his loyalty but divided between the ideals of chivalry and the harsh political realities of his tumultuous times, Thurstan is dispatched to uncover the conspiracies brewing against his king. During his journeys, he encounters the woman he loved as a youth; and the renewed promise of her love, as well as the mysterious presence of an itinerant dancing girl, sends him on a spiritual odyssey that forces him to question the nature of his ambition and the folly of uncritical reverence for authority. With the exquisite prose and masterful narrative drive that have earned him widespread acclaim, Barry Unsworth transports the reader to a distant past filled with deception and mystery, and whose racial, tribal, and religious tensions are still with us today.


Yananoc
The protagonist is unsympathetic but that is the only negative in this novel. Barry Unsworth's prose is superb and the setting fascinating. Who knew twelfth century Sicilian history and politics could be so interesting! I found a booklet -'Mosaics of Sicily' (available on Amazon) - that helped me imagine the mosaics described in the book. The challenges of interfaith co-operation and co-existence experienced by Sicily in the twelfth century are paralleled in the 21st century and certainly give food for thought.
Perilanim
Barry Unsworth's THE RUBY IN HER NAVEL is a gem of a novel, hidden behind the thicket of its unpromising beginning.

Set in Sicily in the 1100s during the reign of Roger I of Sicily, we follow the story of a young man named (somewhat improbably in my opinion) Thurstan Beauchamp, who travels through the world as a purveyor of the King's pleasures and shows. Naturally, there is more to this innocent-seeming job than meets the eye. Of course, Thurstan is really a spy, intent on finding out about dissension against the King both within his court and outside it.

I am not a fan of narrative summary, so writers who tend to use that method of telling their stories wear thin on me. And there were times in this novel, when it lagged. But the biggest problem (apart from the dreadful cover, and the misleading, unpoetic title) was the beginning.

"To begin a story one must choose a time when the door swings wide, and this came for me on a day late in April 1149."

What a wonderful first line. Except that it is not the first line of the novel. We do not meet it until page 2, after a rambling beginning about a dancing girl.

"He asked me quite openly, rather carelessly, as if it were an afterthought--" [And so on for a whole paragraph]

Here we have a quasi-hook. But it is so shrouded in secrecy, that we do not know what it is.

"The majlis itself has stayed in my memory because it was enlivened by a quarrel."

Information dump that takes a whole paragraph.

"It was the eunuch Martin, a palace Saracen, who brought on the quarrel."

Another information dump. Who cares about Martin? What about Thurstan, the narrator of the tale, introduced to us on the page before? And why is Unsworth taking forever to get to the point?

And so on. I think most people will understand why I nearly threw the book across the floor at this point. Five stars for beguiling characters in the shape of Thurstan and Nesrin, and for a clever plot twist at the end. One star for an amateurish beginning, making this three stars.
Ffyan
Barry Unsworth such an excellent author. Learned much of the culture while enjoying an intriguing complex story.
Nettale
This historical novel revives beautifully a largely forgotten period of History: Palermo in the 12th century when the Normans had recently invaded the island and society was still divided between the previous governing class (the Arabs) and the new one (Norman-led). A story of intrigue and passion, it delivers many moments of pleasure for the reader - unfortunately, it's a little too 19th century-like in its long, overwrought descriptions and one would wish for the action to speed up. Also, when it does speed up at the end of the novel, the intrigue becomes so complex that it (nearly) defies understanding...Hence, regretfully, the 4 star rating. Regrestfully, because this is a truly talented writer.
Tetaian
I like it very much. I read it in no time and in the process learned a little bit about a epoch I didn't have a clue about it. It is well written, with likable characters, good pace. Gives an insight of very actual topics. I highly recopmmend it.
Ustamya
Very stylized form of writing; like it had been penned in the 1920's. But that's OK as it gives a certain atmosphere to the narrative.
Sirara
My son recommended this book to me. I couldn't believe it, so went on to read it myself and found it a delightful book full of insights to the time period that I had never encountered before. I recommend it highly.
I am super hooked on this book. Barry Unsworth is fantastic. As good as all the others of his I've read.