By Douglas Bullis
Release Date, 28 March 2022
Douglas Bullis is not a medievalist. If he were, we’d know how and where he uncovered every piece of the LeFief Family puzzle. Remembrances of Things to Come would begin with baptism records retrieved from long-forgotten chapels. It would progress through land grants, letters, and diaries. Notes in the margins of books, inscriptions on gravestones, church registers; medievalists use these sources to walk back in time. They’re the hallmarks of well-founded research where speculation fades, and every assertion stands as sturdy as a barrel vault.
In Remembrances of Things to Come, Bullis tries something much more readable. He promises to transport readers to a lost world. Stories of domesticity, celebration, and despair emerge without strings of citations and sources. Instead of a scholar recording LeFief origins via medieval documents, Bullis is a tour guide conducting readers through the landscape. In 1003 CE, a land grant is given by a local lord to a family without a surname. “When the family was later confirmed in the church by the lord’s bishop, the lord attended the observance but would not yield to them permission to adopt his name. They therefore took unto themselves the name of the fief itself, to last as long as the family should live.” (Remembrances of Things to Come, D. Bullis. pg.4) We don’t read it from the church annals. It’s not drawn from the inscription on the first LeFief’s tomb. It wasn’t uncovered in a 1000-year-old ledger. It simply happened. The rest of the book follows the family up to modern times, recreating one day for one LeFief across successive centuries.
Remembrances uses art for its reference points. Hundreds of high-quality reproductions taken from period manuscripts illustrate the scenes of daily life in Bullis’ narrative. The art inspires him to recall the sounds, smells, colors, and customs familiar to the LeFiefs as they navigate nine centuries in the Loire Valley. He invites readers into the kitchen, the field, the country lane. These flights of imagination dispel the illusion of distance between the LeFiefs and us. Bullis reminds us that French baguette smells the same today (and is made in much the same way) as it did a millennium ago; in a thousand years, unless bread is no longer baked, it will be as fragrant. It’s a touchpoint, a memory we can share of the past, present, and far future.
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Thanks to Reedsy Discovery for an advance reader’s copy of this title.
This review appeared first on reedsy.com: https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/remembrances-of-things-to-come-douglas-bullis#review
Great review of a fascinating sounding book!