Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd

About the book

Hawksmoor is a 1985 novel by the English writer Peter Ackroyd. It won Best Novel at the 1985 Whitbread Awards and the Guardian Fiction Prize. It tells the parallel stories of Nicholas Dyer, who builds seven churches in 18th-century London for which he needs human sacrifices, and Nicholas Hawksmoor, detective in the 1980s, who investigates murders committed in the same churches. Hawksmoor has been praised as Peter Ackroyd’s best novel up to now and an impressive example of postmodernism.

Review by TG Reading Group

A complex and none too easy to read. The story is dark and chilling in places. Worth persevering, as the author draws the reader into the plot. His use of language, ancient and modern, and character development is unusual. A definite sinister overtone. The book engendered a lot of discussion in our group, with a wide range of opinion.

3 stars out of 5

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10 thoughts on “Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd”

  1. Review by Southampton U3A Reading Group: Generally we did not enjoy this book and found it very difficult to understand. It is written in a very confused and confusing style
    Star rating: *

  2. Review by Bridewell – Odiham Reading Group: Disjointed. Too much gory detail. But not much detail about everyday life. Not much enjoyed.
    Star rating: *

  3. Review by Eastleigh Library Wednesday Group: Heavy and slow moving. Would be good as a study text, but not for entertainment.
    Star rating: **

  4. Review by Andover u3A Reading Group 2: In the general consensus the book was thought to be uninteresting and too drawn out. The characters boring. we did not have anything positive to say about this story.
    Star rating: *

  5. Review by Shipton Bellinger WI: A very difficult book to read. Can’t give a rating as most of the group failed to finish it. One member did enjoy it, rejoicing in the 18th Century language, London scenes and the conundrums set by this novel, but then she is an ‘Ackroyd nut’.
    Star rating:

  6. Review by Anton Bookies: We did not rate this book very highly, the group felt that it was repetitive and did not seem to flow. It was a complex and difficult read. The description of London was good but difficult to understand.
    Star rating: *

  7. Review by Gosport Bookworms: We all agreed that this was quite a difficult read. Subtle, mysterious and full of conceits but at least half the group fount it intriguing and one of the most challenging books we’ve had so far. Look out for the word ‘shadow’!
    Star rating: ***

  8. Review by Arle Bookgroup: A challenging read with some thought-provoking concepts. A map showing the locations of the churches would have been a useful addition to the text. Members were divided between 2 and 3 star rating.
    Rating: ***

  9. Review by Goodworth Clatford WI
    Nil point. Few memebers read it – too disjointed, plotless, language difficult. Little connection between the two parts – disappointing.
    Star rating; *

  10. Review by Ringwood Readers
    Tortuous, mindblowingly evil. Nobody in the group wanted to even finish the book.
    Star rating: none

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