Today I welcome back TLC book tours to The Book Binder’s Daughter with an historical fiction novel entitled Gutenberg’s Apprentice. I invite you to read my review, learn a little more about the author and look at the other stops on this book tour.
We all take for granted the written word, especially in the 21st century when not only are physical books readily available but so are books in electronic form. In Muniz, Germany in the 15th Century an Elder by the name of Gutenberg had a crazy and obsessive idea of finding a way to mass produce books instead of having them laboriously copied by hand through scribes. Peter is one such scribe and is recalled from his scribal duties in Paris at a monastery by his foster father. Peter’s foster father, with whom he has been living since the age of 10, wants Peter to become Gutenberg’s apprentice as Gutenberg works on his new printing press. Fust, Peter’s adoptive father is a merchant who has heavily invested in Gutenberg’s new invention.
At the center of the story is the long and tedious process of smelting ore, casting the letters out of the metal and then finally using them to print books. The first thing that Gutenberg attempts to print is a Latin grammar. Then Gutenberg gets the church to agree to hire him to print missals for Mass. But when the church cannot agree on which version of the missal it wants printed, Gutenberg, Fust and Peter must come up with another idea for a book to produce with their printing press. They decide the Bible will not only carry on God’s word, but will also be a popular item for clergy and non-clergy alike to purchase.
This book reads more like a history of the development of the printing press than a historical fiction novel. The characters are not developed to the point where we might empathize or even like them. Gutenberg is your typical eccentric genius who is obsessed with his work of art. Fust, Peter’s adoptive father, is a merchant who is always looking for new ways to make money. Peter himself only seems to have some spark of emotion when he meets and falls in love with a painter’s daughter named Anna. But he loses interest her all too quickly when she is not impressed with his printing device.
The process of printing these bibles and the procedures for smelting ore, casting the metal letters, the workings of the press and the politics of the Catholic church were well-researched. If you have a keen interest in learning how this process evolved then I would give GUTENBERG’S APPRENTICE a try.
About The Author:
I started focusing on fiction with an MFA from St Mary’s College of California, and was a semifinalist in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest. My short stories have appeared in the Southwest Review, Other Voices, and a limited edition from Foolscap Press.
Gutenberg’s Apprentice Blog Tour: