Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.

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"They ride the country, stealing trade out of honest men’s hands, and then lending again at huge interest, the money they have snatched so villainously… I tell you, nephew, they are the curse of this modern world – worse than the black plague!"

The Woolpack

Carnegie winner: 1951
Author: Cynthia Harnett

Offering a voyage through mercantile England in the Middle Ages, protagonist  Nicholas Fetterlock is the son of a wool merchant and is going to be wedded to Cecily Bradshaw, the daughter of a wealth cloth merchant.  The Woolpack offers us a glimpse at community life in Burford, set amidst the Cotswalds.  Highly descriptive and astutely observed historical detail brings the novel to life, presenting readers with an impressive array of information on the wool trade, on Mediaeval life and culture in a way that never feels contrived or heavy-handed.

Despite its slow and reflective pace, there is plenty of interest too as Nicholas comes to learn his father’s craft in the sheep business and has to ensure the plans of a pair of conniving bankers and money lenders from Italy who aim to sabotage his father’s business, meet their comeuppance.  Meticulously researched, but highly readable, the novel offers an insight into the importance of wool as a commodity and as a key part of local economies.  An illustrated glossary helps readers in understanding some of the specialised tools and phrases found within the book.

A vivid portrayal into the Mediaeval towns, trades and their people, there’s a well realised sense of character, community and colour in this novel which acts as a window into a past world.


Middle Ages / wool trade /