Books Reviews

Me and Ancient History

What’s the point of school? Why are children sent to school? What do we hope they’ll get from it?

I think a good school should show children what’s available to learn and encourage them to discover as much as they can. It should make them excited about all the possibilities and hungry for knowledge.

My school did the opposite for me. Looking back now, I can recognise that some of the teaching was less than inspiring. But I think the main problem was that I was made to learn things I wasn’t ready for.

I received a mark of 29% for my first History exam. Although I worked at it and revised before the exam, that was all I managed, and later on I came to the conclusion that history before the 17th century  is just too boring to remember. But my poor grade was also the result of not being used to thinking and writing fast, because that’s what you have to do in a History exam.

And then, in English, we had to read a book called Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. This historical adventure novel is set in Roman Britain in the 2nd century and I hated it. Looking back, that could be because I didn’t understand it, because I wasn’t ready for it. Maybe if I read it now I’d enjoy it. All it told me then was that ancient history was boring. I was happy to be able to leave ancient history and move on to times that made more sense to me. Whether that was because those times were closer to modern times or because I’d matured in the meantime and was more able to follow, I don’t know, but I haven’t returned to ancient history since then.

The Beltane ChoiceUntil now. I won an ecopy of Nancy Jardine’s novel, The Beltane Choice, which is set in Celtic/Roman Britain in the year 71. I started reading it with some apprehension and I did find it a little slow at the beginning. But the writing was good enough for me to keep going and soon I became involved in the story of the two main characters, really hoping they would be able to overcome all the odds.

This is such a beautifully told story that even I could put my preconceived notions aside and immerse myself in the lives of the Celtic warriors. Even the sex scenes, as I mentioned in a previous post, are described with passion and sensitivity and just the right amount of detail.

Maybe, one day, I’ll have another go at art – another subject I hated at school. But I can’t see myself ever playing hockey again!

By Miriam Drori

Author, editor, attempter of this thing called life. Social anxiety warrior. Cultivating a Fuji, edition 3, a poignant, humorous and uplifting tale, published with Ocelot Press, January 2023.

5 replies on “Me and Ancient History”

Interesting post, Miriam, I loved the Eagle of the Ninth – and failed History O-level! It amazes me that Rosemary Sutcliff was a disabled person, who was unable to travel much, yet wrote such wonderful books.
You won’t catch me playing hockey either. I never understood team games or the offside rule! And I wish I had more time for art. Sue

That is amazing, Sue. Rather like Beethoven being able to write such wonderful music after becoming deaf.
I never liked running around in the mud. And those sticks were dangerous!

That’s a lovely blog post, Miriam, and thank you for persevering with my tale of Lorcan and Nara. I think I’ve said before that I’ve always loved history, I enjoyed Eagle of the Ninth though it was so long ago I remember none of it, and I also played hockey till nineteen- first year University level. I find I enjoy writing set in all time periods and in many fiction sub-genres.

Crooked Cat books cover so many time periods and genres. Reading them has opened my eyes to a lot of literature that’s new for me. Your love of history, Nancy, shines through in your writing. If you write a novel about hockey, I’ll read that, too, but you’ll never get me to play it again!

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