Katharine McMahon was our Guest Editor in April 2010 - click here - to see the books that inspired her writing.
Katharine McMahon is the author of seven historical novels including The Alchemist’s Daughter, a Waterstone’s Paperback of the Year in 2006, the bestselling Rose of Sebastopol, a Richard & Judy Book Club selection in 2008, and The Crimson Rooms. She has taught in secondary schools, performed in local theatre and worked as a Royal Literary Fund fellow teaching writing skills at the Universities of Hertfordshire and Warwick. She lives in Hertfordshire. She relies on research to uncover connections and revelations in history which will plant the seeds for a novel - and is currently engaged, with some trepidation, in a book set during The French Revolution.
Evelyn Gifford, our first-person narrator, is a lawyer in the 1920s. She is on the rebound from a relationship with a young barrister and accepts a proposal from her employer, Daniel. In the midst of this comes the General Strike and the description of coping with life in London during the strike is vivid. Evelyn is befriending a sad family where two of the kids are in trouble with the law and the mother charged for murdering her husband. Evelyn gets her ex-boyfriend to help the woman in the trial. This book has got lots of plot, lots of emotion and lots of action. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
July 2012 Book of the Month. A thrilling, opulent love story set amid the French Revolution. A young impressionable English girl is forced to choose between her head and her heart when she falls for a dashing revolutionary. The author also wrote the Richard & Judy chosen The Rose of Sebastopol.
This is her first new one since the Richard and Judy chosen book, The Rose of Sebastopol. Although there have been several published over here since, they have all been titles written sometime ago, so this has her back on top form. It is a strong plot-driven story of a young woman coming to terms with the loss of an adored brother, James, in World War I and fighting a male dominated world to be accepted as a lawyer. She lives in a household of female family members and into it comes another young woman with a male child … James’ son. It is a good story, well written. Comparison: Sarah Waters, Andrea Levy, Georgina Harding.
Her The Rose of Sebastopol was a Richard and Judy choice and due to its obvious success the publishers have astutely reissued one of her earlier book, originally published in 1997 but sure to have been missed by her many new fans. Set in Suffolk and full of English charm and nostalgia this is the story of a woman researching for a book on her grandfather and finding repressed or misplaced love that echoes down the ages. Comparison: Kate Morton, Mark Mills, Julia Gregson.
Reviewed on Richard & Judy on Wednesday 23 January 2008.A rich historical novel set amongst the backdrop of the Crimean War. Mariella is used to the comfort of London Society, the cosy drawing rooms and social occasions and is not prepared for the reality of war when she embarks on a journey to see her injured fiancé and search for her missing cousin. The mention real historical figures such as Florence Nightingale add to the authentic feel of the novel, sweeping you along as Mariella evolves in to a strong independent woman. This is one you will not want to put down.
A name well worth remembering in the historical fiction area. Its the 18th century and a scientist attempts to use his intelligent and beautiful daughter in a bold and secret experiment but while his back is turned she begins a passionate and far-reaching relationship which has a tumultuous impact on them. Brilliantly written and a real page-turner.
A spellbinding novel of love and courage set in the England, Italy and Florence Nightingale's Crimea. A Richard and Judy Book Club bestseller - includes a fascinating and moving brand new final chapter. Russia, 1854. As the Crimean War grinds on, Rosa Barr - young, headstrong and beautiful - travels to the battlefields, determined to join Florence Nightingale and save as many of the wounded as she can. For Mariella, Rosa's cousin, the war is contained within the pages of her scrapbook, her sewing circle, and the letters she receives from Henry, her fiance, a celebrated surgeon who has also volunteered to work within the shadow of the guns. But when Henry falls ill, and Rosa's communications cease, Mariella finds herself drawn inexorably towards the war. Following the trail of her elusive and captivating cousin, Mariella's epic journey takes her from the domestic restraint of Victorian England to the ravaged landscape of the Crimea. As she ventures deeper into the dark heart of the conflict, Mariella discovers her own strengths and passions through Rosa's tough lessons of concealment, faithfulness and love.
'An epic yet heartbreakingly intimate novel of conflict and betrayal, and of the pain of lost love' Kate Mosse A long-buried secret, a heart-breaking betrayal... Estelle never really knew her mother, Fleur, but is haunted by her legacy. A legendary resistance heroine in the Great War, she had helped Allied soldiers escape from Belgium - and was not alone in paying a terrible price. Christa's father was one of those Fleur saved - but he returned home a ruined man. So, when Estelle arrives on Christa's doorstep hungry for information about her mother, an intense and complex friendship is ignited. In 1939, as conflict grips Europe once more, Estelle follows her mother's destiny. Then Christa discovers that Fleur was betrayed by someone close to her and the truth may destroy them all... 'A beautiful, romantic and touching book. The prose is elegant and evocative and, McMahon's research is scholarly and meticulous' Jonathan Lynn, film director 'Katharine McMahon is a historical novelist who can turn her hand to any period and bring it thrillingly alive. [The Hour of Separation is] very possibly her best and most powerful book so far' Readers Digest 'Tender and painterly...rather beautiful' Irish Times
The compelling story of two generations of a family - and the secrets they keep - from the bestselling author of THE ROSE OF SEBASTOPOL Beside the River Needle is a willow, meeting place for generations of Needlewick girls. Suzanna is the elder daughter of the village doctor who, with her friends, plans various outings, memorably to the Tunnel Woods where Suzanna has a momentous encounter. Helen is Suzanna's niece. She lacks companions of her own age, but makes up for it with the imaginative world she creates for herself. In the summer of 1909, Suzanna's daughter, Sophia, is sent from London to stay with her cousin and soon Sophia and Helen are inseparable. Years later, after the War, Sophia is engaged to be married. Over the years she has lost a great deal - but not her ambition for a rich and secure future. Then one morning she learns of a strange legacy. To receive her bequest, she must return to Needlewick. There she seeks out the people and hidden places of her childhood - and following her there are others for whom Needlewick is a place of devastating significance. A WAY THROUGH THE WOODS is a tale of a quest. It is also the story of a family: mothers, sisters, cousins, friends and servants - their passions, and their ability to destroy and heal, waste and love.
The compelling, powerful story of two women, separated by a hundred years, but linked by the lives they choose and the decisions they make. 1849: Bess Hardemon arrives at the grimly Dickensian Priors Heath school, little knowing that she will one day end up as an inspiring and legendary headmistress - but at considerable personal cost. 1970: Sarah Beckett is delighted to gain a place at Priors Heath - as much for the pride of her parents as for herself - but will she fit in? The plight of a nineteenth century schoolteacher, trapped by her duty to her job, is mirrored by a modern day woman's fight to escape the shackles of a broken marriage. Bess Hardemon, a tough and canny young teacher is determined to make a difference at her new school. At the cost of her own chance of finding love, Bess remains trapped by her duty, a confinement echoed a century later by Sarah, who must make her own choice between duty and her efforts to save a broken marriage.
Secrets abound in this gripping tale of a young woman cloistered since birth who discovers that knowledge is no subsitute for experience when she choses to follow her heart over science.Raised by her father in near isolation in the English countryside, Emilie Selden is trained as a brilliant natural philosopher and alchemist. In the spring of 1725, during the English Age of Reason, father and daughter embark upon their most daring alchemical experiment to dateattempting to breathe life into dead matter. But when Emilieagainst her father's wishesexperiences the passion of first love, she decides to listen to her heart over her head.Banished to London and plunged headlong into a society that is both glamorous and ruthless, Emilie discovers that for all her extraordinary education she has no insight into the workings of the human heart.When she tries to return to the world of books and study, she instead unravels a shocking secret that sets her on her true journey to enlightenment.