BOOK REVIEW: The Hopkins Conundrum by Simon Edge

July 19, 2017

The Hopkins Conundrum

By Simon Edge

Tim Cleverley inherits a failing pub in Wales. The only thing of interest is its location, where Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote his masterpiece – The Wreck – about a group of nuns fleeing Germany on board a doomed ship. To Tim, the opaque religious poetry is incomprehensible – almost as if it’s written in code.

This gives him an idea; he contacts an American author – famous as a purveyor of Holy Grail hokum – suggesting he write a book about the poet and entirely fabricated, ‘mystery’. The famous author is going through a period of writer’s block and latches on to his idea. But will Tim’s new relationship with a genuine Hopkins fan scupper the plan? ​

The Hopkins Conundrum blends the real stories of Hopkins and the shipwrecked nuns while casting a wry eye on The Da Vinci Code industry in a highly original mix of fiction, literary biography and satirical commentary. It’s a romantic modern love story and the story of love of life and faith and how that directed Hopkins to a wild Welsh space.  It’s chapters hop from the here and now, the then and there, we are both in the poem with the nuns, the poets thoughts, the modern day couple and the rural Welsh village life, it’s an interesting and compelling read and the ultimate death of the tragic nun’s and the poems muse themselves is treated with a stark dignity.

New gay author Simon Edge bring us this lovely story of poems, nuns, persecution, the Welsh countryside and some romantic intrigue and it’s a delicious read with some hints into Hopkins homoerotic experiences and the poetry itself washing though the book entwined in the whirls and eddies of Edges great prose. It’s one of those odd books which deliver more than you’d expect and Edge’s dedication to his partner – also in the book – brought a tear to my eye.



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