Author: Thomas Deloney
Publish Date: 1600s (exact date unknown)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Page Length: Approx. 100 pages (varying by edition)
Thomas of Reading is a work of historical fiction by Thomas Deloney, written in the 1600s. The book tells the story of Thomas Allen, a poor wool-carder who becomes a wealthy clothier in the medieval town of Reading. The story is broken down into four parts, each depicting a distinct period in Thomas's life.
Part one introduces readers to Thomas's humble beginnings as a wool-carder, working long hours for minimal pay. Despite his struggles, Thomas is a diligent worker and eventually catches the eye of a wealthy clothier named Sir John Fogge. Sir John takes Thomas under his wing as an apprentice, teaching him the ins and outs of the cloth trade. As Thomas begins to make a name for himself as a clothier, he falls in love with a young woman named Cicely Hackett.
Part two takes place several years later, when Thomas is now a successful clothier in his own right. However, he faces new challenges as he struggles to balance his love for Cicely with his ambition to climb the social ladder. One particular rival, a jealous clothier named Steven Ballard, schemes against Thomas and ultimately drives a wedge between him and Cicely.
Part three follows Thomas as he rises to even greater heights of success, becoming one of the wealthiest men in Reading. However, his newfound wealth comes at a price as he becomes increasingly isolated from his former friends and family. Meanwhile, his romantic troubles continue as he faces off against Steven Ballard once again, this time in a high-stakes legal battle.
In part four, Thomas's fortunes take a turn for the worse as he faces financial ruin and loses everything he has worked for. However, in a twist of fate, he is ultimately able to redeem himself and reclaim his former glory.
Throughout the story, Deloney weaves in themes of class, power, and ambition. The character of Thomas serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the dangers of greed and the importance of staying true to one's values. Additionally, the book provides a vivid depiction of life in medieval England, offering insights into everything from the cloth trade to everyday life in a bustling town.
Overall, Thomas of Reading is a thought-provoking and engaging read that offers a unique window into the world of medieval England. With its intricate plot, well-drawn characters, and historical accuracy, it is a classic work of historical fiction that remains relevant and compelling even today.