David Madden author of London Bridge in Plague and Fire
Book signing with prolific author and former Knoxvillian David Madden reading and discussing his new novel, London Bridge in Plague and Fire. The event will be held at the Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville sponsored by UT Press and the Friends of the Library.
"David Madden's London Bridge is the spellbinding story of the life and times of a world icon. Distinguish yourself and buy it now! —Winston Groom
“Madden’s novel is written with sensuous and innovative prose. His historic and aesthetic strategy is ambitious and profoundly convincing. Interlaced in the narrative are insightful poems and revealing journal entries. The novel is a superb and penetrating analysis of imaginative truth and arresting facts. It all comes together under the writer’s artistic gaze, through his sense of harmony, to tell an explosively brilliant story of London Bridge and its fascinating array of characters. This is a winner! Bravo!” —Clarence Major
"I am still living on London Bridge myself. The world of this novel has merged with my life. Under Madden's pen, the web of human connection is woven over water, through space, and beyond time." —Allen Wier, author of Tehano
“London Bridge in Plague and Fire is a brilliant cleaving of historical fact and Blakeian imagination. David Madden has written his masterpiece.” —Ron Rash, author of Serena
London Bridge in Plague and Fire is a lyrical and daring blend of history and poetic imagining. David Madden brings the evolving bridge and its inhabitants to glowing, memorable life.
—Hilma Wolitzer, author of An Available Man
For more than two thousand years, Old London Bridge evolved through many fragile wooden forms until it became the first bridge built of stone since the Roman invaders. With over two hundred houses and shops built directly upon the bridge, it was a wonder of the world until it was dismantled in 1832.
In this stunningly original novel, Old London Bridge is as much a living, breathing character as its architect, the priest Peter de Colechurch, who began work on it in 1176, partly to honor Archbishop Thomas à Becket, murdered in Canterbury Cathedral. In 1665, the year of the Great Plague, Peter’s history is unknown, but Daryl Braintree, a young poet living on the bridge, resurrects him through inspired flights of imagination. As Daryl chronicles the history of the bridge and composes poems about it, he reads his work to his witty mistress, who prefers making love.
Among other key characters is Lucien Redd, who as a boy was sexually brutalized by both Puritans and Cavaliers during the English Civil War before being kidnapped off London Bridge onto a merchant ship. Thus traumatized, he aspires to become Lucifer’s most evil disciple. Twenty years later, young Morgan Wood is forced into seafaring service to pay off his father’s debts; and, compelled by obsessive nostalgia for his early life on the bridge, he keeps a journal. Joining Morgan aboard ship, Lucien “befriends” him—to devastating effect.
The shops and houses on the bridge survive both the Great Plague and Great Fire, believed to be God’s wrath upon sinful London. Fearing that God may next destroy the bridge and its eight hundred denizens, seven of its merchant leaders revert to a pagan appeasement ritual by selecting one of their virgin daughters for sacrifice. To enact their plan, they hire Lucien, who has returned to the bridge to burn it out of pure meanness. But as Lucien discovers, the chosen victim may be more Lucifer’s favorite than he is.
Like his creation Daryl Braintree, David Madden employs diverse innovative ways to tell this complex, often shocking, but also lyrical story. The author of ten novels—including The Suicide’s Wife, Bijou, and most recently, Abducted by Circumstance and Sharpshooter—Madden has, with London Bridge in Plague and Fire, given us the most ambitious and imaginative work of his distinguished career.
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