The Edict: A Novel From The Beginnings of Golf—Book Review

imageThe Edict: A Novel from the Beginnings of Golf (Vintage)

Grade: B+
Teacher’s Comments: A good novel, but for one jarring chapter

In The Edict, golf architect Bob Cupp builds a story around a singular historical oddity: King James’ 1457 ban of the sport of golf from Scotland.

It’s hard to say exactly what the novel’s about. There’s a golf match; a love story; a crooked land deal; a wager gone bad; political intrigue; and a couple of action scenes. It’s a clever story and a far cry from the more pedestrian and usual run of golf mysteries and fantasies.

The Edict is a pleasant read, and Cupp shows some skill as a writer. The characters are nicely drawn, and the story well plotted. The book also is enhanced by some very nice line drawings.

If the novel has a failing, it’s a rather jarring chapter called “The Players” in which Cupp not-so-cleverly draws parallels between those ancient Scotsmen and more modern golfers. He proceeds as if making a roll call: The Dandy; The Blacksmith; The Wee Ice Mon; The Blonde; The Natural; The Highlander and so on. Here’s his description of “The Blonde.”

“Nectan had beaten all comers since he was eleven, mostly because he was even at that tender age to launch the ball prodigious distances; he reached the longest of holes in two shots, and on the fair greens he literally willed the ball into the hole. Slightly taller than most, he had the cherubic good looks of a big farm boy, with powerful legs and an almost chunky waistline but surprisingly small hands.”

And the Dandy:

“He was always dressed to the nines, like an earl, and often showed up for matches in a splendid carriage, still dressed for his festivities of the previous night.”

The Edict would have been a better work if all of this had simply been left out.

But that’s a small failing in a book that, overall, was very good.




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