Review: “Gutenberg’s Apprentice” by Alix Christie

alix christie gutenberg's apprentice cover-uk

Gutenberg’s Apprentice tells of the innovation and intrigue surrounding the publication of the first-ever book made with moveable type, now known as the Gutenberg Bible. Seen through the eyes of Gutenberg’s historical apprentice, Peter Schoeffer, the novel traces the camaraderie and complicities of the workshop itself and the development of the tools of moveable type and the printing press. Peter’s relationship with his adopted father (Gutenberg’s financier Johann Fust) and his firecracker meister frame the historical upheavals of Mainz, Germany, in the early 1450s, where battles between Church and city-states guided and impeded the creation of the first machine-printed book.

Gutenberg’s Apprentice is the first novel of writer and letterpress printer, and one suspects that it couldn’t have been written by anyone else. Her printing knowledge and her historical research in three languages fed into her detailed reproduction of the religious backdrop, the printing intricacies and the four key characters of her novel (including the Book itself, of course). It is both a novel of historical and political intrigue, and an ode to the printers and word-crafters who birthed mass-produced written materials — and the world as we know it. Highly recommended for bibliophiles and lovers of historical fiction/thrillers.

For more information about the novel, see its beautiful and detailed website: http://www.gutenbergsapprentice.com/. To flip the pages of a Gutenberg Bible, as you can’t do in the flesh see: http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/permanent/gutenbergbible/pages/.

Gutenberg’s Apprentice — Alix Christie — Headline — TP —  $30

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Filed under Book Group titles, Fiction Reviews, Reviews

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