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The Dig (2007)

de John Preston

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2932467,854 (3.7)31
"A succinct and witty literary venture that tells the strange story of a priceless treasure discovered in East Anglia on the eve of World War II. In the long, hot summer of 1939, Britain is preparing for war, but on a riverside farm in Suffolk there is excitement of another kind. Mrs. Pretty, the widowed owner of the farm, has had her hunch confirmed that the mounds on her land hold buried treasure. As the dig proceeds, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary find. This fictional recreation of the famed Sutton Hoo dig follows three months of intense activity when locals fought outsiders, professionals thwarted amateurs, and love and rivalry flourished in equal measure. As the war looms ever closer, engraved gold peeks through the soil, and each character searches for answers in the buried treasure. Their threads of love, loss, and aspiration weave a common awareness of the past as something that can never truly be left behind"--… (més)
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» Mira també 31 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 24 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Intense and compact this is very much a show not tell sort version of events. ( )
  quondame | Apr 26, 2021 |
I only recently discovered John Preston’s 2007 novel The Dig via the movie version of the same title being so prominently featured on Netflix right now. I knew almost nothing about England’s famous 1939 Sutton Hoo excavation, but as I’ve always had an interest in archaeology, the movie immediately caught my attention. I ended up so thoroughly enjoying the film that I decided to track down a copy of the book it is based upon to learn more about the dig and the people involved. Surprisingly, because in my experience it so seldom happens this way, the movie version of The Dig left me with a better feel for what the dig must have been like for those who experienced it than the book managed to do.

The Sutton Hoo site is home to thirteen ancient burial mounds, but the book and film focus on the initial excavation of only the first of them. England was, of course, on the brink of war with Germany in 1939, so the discovery of a burial chamber dating back to the late sixth century, came at a precarious time. If the finds were going to excavated and safeguarded from the perils of open warfare with a neighboring country, time was of the essence and someone was going to have to step on toes to get it all done in time. There were also rather petty jealousies between the regional museum and the British Museum in London that had to be negotiated, although the national museum was always likely to be the winner in any dispute over which museum should permanently house the finds.

Preston’s novel focuses on some of the key people in the story: Edith Pretty, on whose property the burial mounds were located; Basil Brown, the proficient “amateur” archaeologist originally hired by Pretty to begin the excavation; Peggy Piggott, a freshly-minted professional archeologist who accompanied her husband to the dig; and Robert Pretty, the little boy who saw the whole thing as the greatest adventure of his young life. With the exception of the little boy - who only serves as narrator for the novel’s short epilogue - the main characters are given long sections of the book to narrate what they personally experience as the dig proceeds over much of 1939.

Those looking for much detail about the finds and the burials are likely to be disappointed as The Dig is more a character study than an accounting of the archeological finds and conclusions. What the novel does well - and what the film does even better - is give a feel for the period and exploration methods of the day. Preston uses the characters to humanize the efforts required and to portray how it all comes together in the end despite the factional rivalries. Edith Pretty, owner of the property, deservedly comes across as the real heroine of the piece because of her insistence, in the first place, that the mounds be explored. Basil Brown is the story’s underdog because of the way that his initial work on the mound is denigrated by those who come later to the project, and Peggy Piggott, being a female archeologist, is treated much the same as Brown.

Bottom Line: Novels based on true events often leave the reader wanting to know more, and The Dig is certainly one of those. Just as the film led me to the novel, the combination of the two makes me want to read much more about the Sutton Hoo excavations and what was ultimately discovered there. I do suggest that both the film and the book be experienced if that is possible because they supplement each other well. My only reservation about the film is that, even though I understand it was done for dramatic effect, I do think the film focuses too much on the supposed sex life of Peggy Piggott. I suppose that is the kind of thing that is unavoidable when a movie is based on a novel that is based upon a true story. ( )
  SamSattler | Feb 28, 2021 |
The Dig is Historical Fiction with interesting characterization of real life people, while telling the story of the Sutton Hoo dig of 1939 in Suffock, England with subtle and skillfully done plot layers. Not all are Archaeological. I also like when reading historical fiction sets me off to doing added research on the true facts behind the storylline. The Epilogue in the voice of grownup Robert Pretty in 1965 brings the tale to a satisfactory conclusion. ( )
  PaperDollLady | Feb 16, 2021 |
Read this because I loved the movie adaptation. The book is every bit as good as the film, which took some liberties with the original story, mostly to further develop the love story of Peggy and Rory. John Preston is an excellent writer. THE DIG is an excellent book. Like the movie? Then you'll like this book. I enjoyed both the film AND the book. Very highly recommended.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
1 vota TimBazzett | Feb 8, 2021 |
I thought it started strongly, and the conflict at the middle was interesting, but the ending was sad.

Unabridged audiobook:
Well performed. ( )
  rakerman | Jan 29, 2021 |
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"A succinct and witty literary venture that tells the strange story of a priceless treasure discovered in East Anglia on the eve of World War II. In the long, hot summer of 1939, Britain is preparing for war, but on a riverside farm in Suffolk there is excitement of another kind. Mrs. Pretty, the widowed owner of the farm, has had her hunch confirmed that the mounds on her land hold buried treasure. As the dig proceeds, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary find. This fictional recreation of the famed Sutton Hoo dig follows three months of intense activity when locals fought outsiders, professionals thwarted amateurs, and love and rivalry flourished in equal measure. As the war looms ever closer, engraved gold peeks through the soil, and each character searches for answers in the buried treasure. Their threads of love, loss, and aspiration weave a common awareness of the past as something that can never truly be left behind"--

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