Red Thread by Charlotte Higgins

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Mazes and labyrinths have always fascinated me, not just because of the ability to get very lost in a contained area, but their form and function I find a thing of beauty. They have been fascinating others for millennia too.

Charlotte Higgins is another who is captivated by them and has been since a trip to Knossos as a child and this book is a wander around the mazes of her mind. More than that though it is a history of physical and literary mazes. Most have heard of the Minotaur and how he died at the hands of Theseus in his labyrinth and how he found his way out by following a red thread.

As well as ancient history, mazes and labyrinths have appeared in a variety of cultures, there are the turf mazes of which there were about sixty in England at one point as well as there being more in as Germany. There are very few of these mazes left now and they are extremely difficult to date. Churches sometimes have mazes and the most spectacular is the famous winding walk at Chartres Cathedral and it is steeped in mystery and myth.

Hedge mazes have been around since the Renaissance, but it is people like Adrian Fisher, internationally acclaimed maze designer, who have been bringing them back and putting a modern spin on it with the use of modern materials and deception with mirrors. One nice discovery in this book was finding that each underground station has a small labyrinth somewhere inside.

I really enjoyed Under Another Sky that Higgins had written about Roman Britain so was really looking forward to this. And there were parts of this book that I really liked, however, there were far too much on the classics for my liking. That said, it is a beautifully produced book, full of colour images and nice touches in the book in that it was bound with red thread and the bookmark included is a red ribbon.

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  1. Liz Dexter

    Oh lovely! When our local churchyard was redeveloped to make a village square, they added a labyrinth which has mosaics and carved quotations that you can contemplate as you go round it. I love it and have even run it once!

    • Paul

      That sounds fantastic. Have been in several maize mazes over the years, which are great fun too

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