Author of this modern take on Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales loved the stories at school because they were ‘naughty’.
Author Wendy Mason took her inspiration for her novel Not Exactly Chaucer from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. She first fell in love with the stories at school, ‘because they were naughty’. Wendy adds: ‘Needless to say, my friends at school and I were delighted by these risqué stories of medieval naughtiness. However, over time I realised that Chaucer had so much more to offer, for example, his ability to describe: colourful characters; the complex nature of human emotions and weaknesses, and the situations that arise because of human traits and relationships.’
Wendy also says: ‘I wrote Not Exactly Chaucer because I thought it would be interesting to base my novel on the concept of The Canterbury Tales. My husband and I had recently returned from a three-week tour of Australia, and I decided to use our experiences as a backdrop for the novel. Apart from providing my travellers with a stunning setting, it also allowed me to relive my holiday. ‘Some of the stories in my book are based on personal experience, for example, Professor Harold Reeve’s Tale is based on a true incident from my husband Harold’s childhood. The Ku Klux Klan visited his family home in Arkansas, inexactly the way described in the story – including the burning cross.’
Wendy was born in Queniborough, Leicestershire and enjoyed her careers as a hospital administrator, lecturer and finally as a capital manager for schools in Cornwall. She now lives in Falmouth with her husband, Harold, close to their daughter Rachael, Son-in-law Dan and two grandsons, Hector (5) and Arthur (3).
She took early retirement in 2011 (she emphasises early) and decided to study creative writing. Her first novel, St Francis – An Instrument of Peace, was published after eight years of research and perfecting her writing skills.Her latest novel – Not Exactly Chaucer – is based on the concept of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales with a contemporary twist. The setting is a three-week escorted tour of Australia. Bailey, the tour manager, struggles to discover who is a threat to her career, while the 21 travellers each tell their stories, form new relationships and discover things about themselves that will change their lives for ever.
My thoughts: it’s been a while since I read Chaucer’s tales, wading through Middle English takes time, but this modern update inspired by Chaucer’s pilgrims was a fun and funny take on the silly and rude originals.
Set in Australia, not Kent, and narrated by a collection of interesting holiday makers, this was a very entertaining and enjoyable read. I liked Bailey and enjoyed the fact she was investigating her tour group for a corporate spy as well as encouraging the group to bond and tell their tales.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.