In June, 1348, the Black Death enters England through the port of Melcombe (now Weymouth) in the County of Dorsetshire. Unprepared for the virulence of the disease, and the speed with which it spreads, the people of the county have little or no defence. By the time the pestilence ends in the winter of 1350, contemporary writers record that barely one in ten of Dorset’s population is still alive. Whole villages vanish from history forever, and a culture of terror and superstition spreads across England as news of the Black Death’s killing power is carried abroad by messengers. In the belief that God has sent a plague to punish sinners, most follow the teachings of the Church and look for salvation through atonement and absolution. A few question whether God’s nature is as vengeful as the Church preaches, and take measures to protect themselves.
THE LAST HOURS is set in the demesne of Develish in Dorsetshire. Widowed by her husband’s death from the pestilence, Lady Anne assumes control of his people’s future – 200 bonded serfs without rights of ownership to land. Strong, compassionate and resourceful – qualities she kept hidden from the husband she loathed and despised - Lady Anne chooses a bastard slave, Thaddeus Thurkell, to act as her steward. Together, they decide to quarantine Develish by bringing the serfs inside a defendable moat and sharing the available food amongst all. With this sudden overturning of the accepted social order, where serfs exist only to serve their lords, conflict arises when they’re given a voice. Ignorant of what is happening in the world outside, they wrestle with themselves, with God and the terrible uncertainty of their futures. They fear starvation when their food runs out but they fear the pestilence more. Who amongst them has the courage to leave the safety of the demesne in search of supplies and news?
And how safe is anyone in Develish when an unexplained murder threatens the uneasy status quo…?
In THE LAST HOURS Minette Walters brings all her trademark intelligence to a totally new timeframe - creating a vivid and powerful drama through compelling characters whose journey readers will be drawn to. THE LAST HOURS is an exciting new direction from an established best-selling author and Minette is currently writing the sequel.
|Click here for rights & sales information|
|Click here to view all titles by this author|