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Simon Mawer was born in 1948 in England, and spent his childhood there, in Cyprus and in Malta. He is married with two children and has lived in Italy for over thirty years.
Shortlisted for the inaugural Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction 2010. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2009. A young couple in Czechoslovakia build their dream home, an art deco house with a beautiful glass room.To Viktor this room represents reason…..everything is clean and clear, the room runs with straight lines and yet in this room some of the most irrational arguments take place and some of the most damaging of people are brought together. Nazi Germany is rapidly gaining more power and influence and affecting the lives of all of the characters. A touching and bittersweet story that will grip you from first to last page.
First published in 1989 Chimera was Simon Mawer's first novel. Mawer is renowned as one of today's most talented writers of historical spy fiction. The fabulous Chimera - mythic monster, part lion, part goat, part serpent - is more that just an Etruscan bronze discovered by archaeologist David Hewison. It lurks in the background of this novel as a symbol of the man himself: part Italian, part English, an explorer of the past who is haunted by his own past when he parachuted into wartime Italy as an SOE agent. Yet this is not just a war story. It is within the present, in the complex little world of an archaeological dig in central Italy, that the past is seen to work - the old conflicts of the Hewison family and the tragedies of wartime Italy surfacing in the present to precipitate a disturbing climax.
'Prague Spring is a wonderfully atmospheric portrait of the city as well as a political and historical thriller with dashes of espionage. It is as brilliant as anything he has written, which is saying a lot' The Times It's the summer of 1968, the year of love and hate, of Prague Spring and Cold War winter. Two English students, Ellie and James, set off to hitch-hike across Europe with no particular aim in mind but a continent, and themselves, to discover. Somewhere in southern Germany they decide, on a whim, to visit Czechoslovakia where Alexander Dubcek's 'socialism with a human face' is smiling on the world. Meanwhile Sam Wareham, a first secretary at the British embassy in Prague, is observing developments in the country with a mixture of diplomatic cynicism and a young man's passion. In the company of Czech student Lenka Koneckova, he finds a way into the world of Czechoslovak youth, its hopes and its ideas. It seems that, for the first time, nothing is off limits behind the Iron Curtain. Yet the wheels of politics are grinding in the background. The Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev is making demands of Dubcek and the Red Army is massed on the borders. How will the looming disaster affect those fragile lives caught up in the invasion?
In the summer of 1968, the year of Prague Spring with a Cold War winter, Oxford students James Borthwick and Eleanor Pike set out to hitchhike across Europe, complicating a budding friendship that could be something more. Having reached southern Germany, they decide on a whim to visit Czechoslovakia, where Alexander Dubcek's socialism with a human face is smiling on the world. Meanwhile, Sam Wareham, First Secretary at the British embassy in Prague, observes developments in the country with a diplomat's cynicism and a young man's passion. In the company of Czech student Lenka Koneckova, he finds a way into the world of Czechoslovak youth, with all its hopes and new ideas; now, nothing seems off-limits behind the Iron Curtain. But the great wheels of politics are grinding in the background; Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev is making demands of Dubcek, and the Red Army is massing on the borders.
It's the summer of 1968, the year of love and hate, of Prague Spring and Cold War winter. Two English students, Ellie and James, set off to hitch-hike across Europe with no particular aim in mind but a continent, and themselves, to discover. Somewhere in southern Germany they decide, on a whim, to visit Czechoslovakia where Alexander Dubcek's socialism with a human face is smiling on the world. Meanwhile Sam Wareham, a first secretary at the British embassy in Prague, is observing developments in the country with a mixture of diplomatic cynicism and a young man's passion. In the company of Czech student, Lenka Koneckova, he finds a way into the world of Czechoslovak youth, its hopes and its ideas. It seems that, for the first time, nothing is off limits behind the Iron Curtain. Yet the wheels of politics are grinding in the background. The Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev is making demands of Dubcek and the Red Army is massed on the borders. How will the looming disaster affect those fragile lives caught up in the invasion?
Marian Sutro has survived Ravensbruck and is back in dreary 1950s London trying to pick up the pieces of her pre-war life. Returned to an England she barely knows and a post-war world she doesn't understand Marian searches for something on which to ground the rest of her life. Family and friends surround her and a young RAF officer attempts to bring her the normalities of love and affection but she is haunted by her experiences and by the guilt of knowing that her contribution to the war effort helped lead to the development of the Atom Bomb. Where, in the complexities of peacetime, does her loyalty lie? When a mysterious Russian diplomat emerges from the shadows to draw her into the ambiguities and uncertainties of the Cold War she sees a way to make amends for the past and to renew the excitement of her double life. Simon Mawer's sense of time and place is perfect: Tightrope is a compelling novel about identity and deception which constantly surprises the reader.
This captivating historical thriller brings back Marian Sutro, ex-special operations agent, and traces her romantic and political exploits in post-World War II London, where the Cold War is about to reshape old loyalties.As Allied forces close in on Berlin in spring 1945, a solitary figure emerges from the wreckage that is Germany. It is Marian Sutro, whose existence was last known to her British controllers in autumn 1943 in Paris. One of a handful of surviving agents of the Special Operations Executive, she has withstood arrest, interrogation, incarceration, and the horrors of Ravensbruck concentration camp, but at what cost?Returned to an England she barely knows and a postwar world she doesn't understand, Marian searches for something on which to ground the rest of her life. Family and friends surround her, but she is haunted by her experiences and by the guilt of knowing that her contribution to the war effort helped lead to the monstrosities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When the mysterious Major Fawley, the man who hijacked her wartime mission to Paris, emerges from the shadows to draw her into the ambiguities and uncertainties of the Cold War, she sees a way to make amends for the past and at the same time to find the identity that has never been hers.A novel of divided loyalties and mixed motives, Tightrope is the complex and enigmatic story of a woman whose search for personal identity and fulfillment leads her to shocking choices.
An 'utterly gripping' tale of love and espionage in Occupied France by the Man Booker Prize shortlisted author of The Glass Room (Daily Mail) Marian Sutro is an outsider: the daughter of a diplomat, brought up on the shores of Lake Geneva and in England, half French, half British, naive yet too clever for her own good. But when she is recruited from her desk job by SOE, the Special Operations Executive, to go undercover in wartime France, it seems her hybrid status - and fluent French - will be of service to a greater, more dangerous cause. Trained in sabotage, dead-drops, how to perform under interrogation and how to kill, Marian parachutes into south-west France, her official mission to act as a Resistance courier. But her real destination is Paris, where she must seek out family friend Clement Pelletier, once the focus of her adolescent desires. A nuclear physicist engaged in the race for a new and terrifying weapon, he is of urgent significance to her superiors. As she struggles through the strange, lethal landscape of the Occupation towards this reunion, what completes her training is the understanding that war changes everything, and neither love nor fatherland may be trusted. 'There are many shades of Graham Greene here... [The Girl Who Fell From the Sky] delivers its story with the same delicate, stropped-razor deadliness that creeps up on you like Harry Lime in the shadows, nastily irresistible' -Financial Times 'Mawer cranks up the tension; as spy stuff this is as good as Le Carre or Eric Ambler, no higher praise possible' -The Scotsman
Like his great-great-great-uncle, geneticist Gregor Mendel, Dr. Benedict Lambert struggles to unlock the secrets of heredity and genetic determinism. However, Benedict's mission is particularly urgent and particularly personal, for he was born with achondroplasia--he's a dwarf. He's also a man desperate for love and acceptance, and when he finds both in Jean, a shy librarian, he stumbles upon an opportunity to correct the injustice of his own, at least to him, unlucky genes.Entertaining and tender, this witty and surprisingly erotic novel reveals the beauty and drama of scientific inquiry as it informs us of the simple passions against which even the most brilliant mind is rendered powerless.
A Knight of the Order of St John, Gerard Paulet is languishing in the Grand Priory of Rome. He is a man who fought alongside the legendary Leone Strozzi, who made extreme sacrifices for his faith, and is the last of a generation able to speak of the great crusades. The young novice tasked with tending to Paulet's broken body is desperate to hear the tales of the former glories of his hero and his comrades. But what makes a hero? Is it the man who stays true to his vows, even in the face of a woman's love? Is it the man who resists the politics of others and always chooses the path that is right, despite the consequences? Is it the crusader who saves the most souls? Gerard Paulet has a lot to teach about the nature of heroism, and sometimes it's nothing like the rumours, and just about a will to survive . . .
'You can't go and live there,' a despairing friend remarked, 'it's not even in Rome.' And it certainly wasn't, but still the author and his wife went to Avea, tucked away amongst the woods and gorges of the Lazio countryside.There they found no Colosseum, or Pantheon; there were no Ferraris racing around the Palazzi Navona, Venezia or Farnese. Instead they discovered the true agony and beauty of Italy: the instinctive warmth of the Avea villagers, the camorra, Little Tony - Italy's answer to Elvis - the elegant and sophisticated Colasanti family and a landlord like no other, Pippo, the self-styled Duca di Avea. This is not a story of the high culture of Italy's big cities, instead of how two foreigners learned to eat the Italian way, drive the Italian way, survive the Italian way - even to have a child the Italian way - and how in doing it they came to love this hidden corner of the most visited and least understood country in Europe.
A propulsive novel of World War II espionage by the author of The Glass Room Barely out of school and doing her bit for the British war effort, Marian Sutro has one quality that makes her stand out-she is a native French speaker. It is this that attracts the attention of the SOE, the Special Operations Executive, which trains agents to operate in occupied Europe. Drawn into this strange, secret world at the age of nineteen, she finds herself undergoing commando training, attending a "e;school for spies,"e; and ultimately, one autumn night, parachuting into France from an Royal Air Force bomber to join the Wordsmith resistance network. But there's more to Marian's mission than meets the eye of her SOE controllers; her mission has been hijacked by another secret organization that wants her to go to Paris and persuade a friend-a research physicist-to join the Allied war effort. The outcome could affect the whole course of the war. A fascinating blend of fact and fiction, Trapeze is both an old-fashioned adventure story and a modern exploration of a young woman's growth into adulthood. There is violence, and there is love. There is death and betrayal, deception and revelation. But above all there is Marian Sutro, an ordinary young woman who, like her real-life counterparts in the SOE, did the most extraordinary things at a time when the ordinary was not enough.
Like his great-great-great uncle, the early geneticist Gregor Mendel, Dr Benedict Lambert is struggling to unlock the secrets of heredity. But for Benedict the mission is particularly urgent and personal, for his is afflicted by achondroplasia. He is a dwarf. When a chance meeting leads him to the acceptance that he craves, he begins a journey towards correcting the injustice of his own capricious genes, with devastating consequences. As intelligent as it is entertaining, this witty novel is a gripping tale of scientific intrigue and moral uncertainty.
On her deathbed, Dee Denham, at one time the toast of colonial Cyprus, tells her son Thomas that her illness is a punishment. Compelled by grief and a confused childhood memory of betrayal, Thomas finds himself searching for the meaning of her last words. He searches through faded photographs and love letters, seeks out survivors and examines his own imperfect recollections. A vanished world comes to life: the restless, seductive island of Cyprus at the end of Empire, a place of oleander and carob trees, cocktails at the Harbour Club and adultery in shuttered bedrooms, peopled by ghostly admirers and conspirators, lovers and spies. Dee's story, an intimate history of violence and tenderness for which Thomas finds himself quite unprepared, gathers momentum, against, in the background, the ominous roar of approaching disaster. A vivid evocation of the past and a deft examination of the dangerous power of memory, SWIMMING TO ITHACA sets fragile human relationships against the unstoppable force of history and sheds new light on both.
Amongst the ancient papyri of the Dead Sea, a remarkable scroll is discovered. Written in the first century AD, it purports to be the true account of the life of Jesus, as told by Youdas the sicarios - Judas Iscariot: the missing Gospel of Judas. If authentic, it will be one of the most incendiary documents in the history of humankind. The task of proving - or disproving - its validity falls to Father Leo Newman, one of the world's leading experts in Koine, the demotic Greek of the Roman Empire, and a man the newspapers like to call a 'renegade priest'. But as Leo absorbs himself in Judas' testimony, the stories of his own life haunt him. The story of his forbidden yet irresistible love for a married woman. The story of his mother's passionate and tragic affair amidst the war-time ruins of Rome. They are stories of love and betrayal that may threaten his faith just as deeply as the Gospel of Judas... With a dramatic narrative that spans from the Europe of the Second World War to Jerusalem two thousand years after Jesus' birth, THE GOSPEL OF JUDAS is a compelling and erudite thriller.
Rob and Jamie are great friends from childhood. They have grown up together and become top climbers, but have since become estranged. Rob is nevertheless amazed and grief-stricken when he hears of Jamie's death after a fall on a relatively easy Welsh rockface. The past, though, hides the secret clues behind the tragedy. Layer by layer Simon Mawer peels back what happened, going not only into the friends' childhoods but that of their parents - who were also intimate. And there is no escaping that past - vividly imagined scenes in the London of the Blitz reveal how through two generations Rob and Jamie and their respective parents have been addicted - to desire and the heady dangers of climbing. Brilliantly structured as we move from past to present and back again, this novel will make Simon Mawer's literary reputation.