Review: Now is the Time by Melvyn Bragg

James Walton

Melvyn Bragg's 22nd novel brings to life one of British history's most extraordinary events. 

Now is the Time by Melvyn Bragg

Now is the Time by Melvyn Bragg

To his understandable annoyance, Melvyn Bragg’s novels are sometimes regarded as a little hobby he indulges between TV and radio shows. In fact, they couldn’t be more heartfelt, as Now is the Time (his 22nd novel, incidentally) again confirms.

Its subject matter may be more than 700 years old, but Bragg still writes with almost evangelical urgency, as he tackles what he sees as one of the key events in British history, the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt. 

The revolt’s appeal to Bragg isn’t hard to fathom, given that it combines several of his passions, including English identity, radical politics and the chance to tell us lots of interesting things. Indeed, for a while, the interesting things are a little too obviously thrown in, with the background history supplied in fairly undigested form.

Luckily, once it’s in place, we do then get a full and often thrilling imagining of what went on when around 70,000 ordinary English people marched on London and violently took control of the city.

There is, admittedly, never much doubt which side Bragg is on. 
 

Feature image via BBC
 

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