The Book of Fame
A glorious novel from the award-winning author of Mister Pip, now available as a trade paperback original from Vintage Canada.
The Book of Fame is a lyrical semi-fictional account of the 1905 All Black rugby tour of Europe - a tour that shaped New Zealand's identity, from which the players returned to find themselves accorded almost god-like status. This remarkable, award-winning novel is both a tribute to some of the world's first sporting celebrities and an investigation into the curious workings of fame.
Not just a book for lovers of sport, The Book of Fame is essentially a story about friendship and loyalty, and about a group of astonishing young men at the peak of their abilities.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Lloyd Jones has immortalised himself in New Zealand literature through his outstanding 2000 novel “The Book of Fame”.
It traces the story of the famous 1905 All Blacks, known as “The Originals”, on their pioneer tour of Britain, France and the United States.
The story is written as a collective diary in concise prose that’s almost poetic. The use of language is something I’ve never encountered before, but it works very well.
The narrator is never revealed as a single player. The personal pronoun never appears; instead it’s a team voice that speaks.
That’s appropriate given the stunning success of this team. The players became celebrities throughout Britain. They were farewelled from New Zealand by a few dozen friends and relatives, arriving home to a heroes welcome.
They lost only one game on tour, in controversial circumstances to a Welsh team at Cardiff Arms Park.
Along the way they met the King, mixed with Lords and common people, and saw sights that few colonials had ever seen.
They were wined and dined in England and Wales, snubbed in Scotland and entertained in Paris between scoring 830 points while conceding just 39.
The descriptions of exotic places and rare experiences are beautifully written.
The 1905 All Blacks mostly came from humble backgrounds.
They were farmers, farriers, meatworkers, miners, bank clerks and bootmakers: ordinary men thrust into extraordinary places.
Their rugby was revolutionary. They kept the ball in hand, running at the opposition instead of kicking it away. The English never adapted to match the new style; only the canny Welsh played the All Blacks at their own game.
Jones narrates the humility of the all-conquering New Zealanders. They were men who knew their talent on the field and their limitations off it.
For someone raised on Australian football this novel captures the essence of rugby and what it means to New Zealanders and Welshmen in particular. It is their tribal religion and does so much to shape their national identities.
This is a great read.
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - siri51 - LibraryThing
A very different novel, much poetry and repetition but a fascinating story of a 1905 rugby team's travels and successes. Read full review
ONE Getting to Know One Another
Two Making a Name for Ourselves
THREE Fames Arrow
FOUR How We Think
SEVEN Overseas Experience I2 i
EIGHT Off the Record