Publication date: September 23, 2014
Category: Historical fiction
Source: I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
For some reason I had this book written down with a publication date of October 28th, thinking I'm only a week later with my review. Then find out as I go to write this it was September 23rd. Now how did I mess that up?
Anyway...here's a quick review of the plot from Amazon: Peter Schoeffer is on the verge of professional success as a scribe in Paris when his foster father, wealthy merchant Johann Fust, summons him home to corrupt Mainz to meet “a most amazing man.” Johann Gutenberg has devised a revolutionary method of bookmaking: a machine he calls a printing press. Fust is financing Gutenberg’s workshop and he orders Peter, his adopted son, to become Gutenberg’s apprentice.
As Peter's skill grows, so, too, does his admiration for Gutenberg and his dedication to their daring venture: copies of the Holy Bible. But mechanical difficulties and the crushing power of the Catholic Church threaten their work. Peter finds himself torn between these two father figures. Caught between the genius and the merchant, the old ways and the new, Peter and the men he admires must work together to prevail against overwhelming obstacles—a battle that will change history . . . and irrevocably transform them.
My thoughts? Overall I liked Gutenberg's Apprentice. The one complaint I might see people making is that it is slow paced at times. I thought so off and on as I read it, but looking back it didn't make me want to DNF it. I was extremely interested in knowing the side of the story we never hear about. Also, the technical talk about the printing process really makes the reader understand that this was not an easy process. Gutenberg didn't just invent the press and voilà, we have books by the hundreds. It was back breaking, all consuming work that so many others would've given up on. Lucky for us, Gutenberg, Peter, and Fust were most determined.
The time period, mid-1400s, is not familiar to many people, I'd guess. It was very interesting to see how life was lived. Expectations for work, marriage, religion, etc. A few characters' reaction to the press being blasphemous amused me. The idea that the Bible could only be meaningful if carefully written by hand seems absolutely ludicrous. They are likely rolling in their graves over our Bible apps and such online now! But it made me keep in mind that all great things are misunderstood and challenged. They bring change, which people generally fear. Yet, look what this has brought us! I wouldn't be writing this and you wouldn't be reading it without Gutenberg, Peter, and Fust's work.
I love the idea of more to the story than meets the eye. Can you think of any other amazing inventions you would like to see stories about?