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Rich and immersive, transporting and informative, good historical fiction is a sumptuous treat. See the past re-written with our Historical Fiction collection. Here to take you to another time without the cost of building a time machine.
Historical Murder Mystery set at the birth of the New York stock market, where no one can be trusted. The birth of the American stock market, an intriguing time between the War of Independence and the Civil War. Slavery still exists but blacks are free in New York, warring with the immigrant Irish for work. The situation is exacerbated by the Ripper-like murders of black prostitutes and the suspicious deaths of Wall Street business men. Every character is part of a conspiracy or hiding a dark secret, everyone is lying and nothing is what it seems. As soon as one plot twist is resolved, along comes another, leaving the reader dizzy and begging for more. There is a helpful dictionary of Irish and slang terms at the back, but most of the unfamiliar words make sense in context. It’s blood-thirsty, gritty and enjoyably confusing, a proper novel of action, intrigue and suspense. The author is a noted historian who began this as a work of non-fiction about the founding of Wall Street but discovered that writing a murder mystery was much more fun! I look forward to more; perhaps a series to rival James McGee’s Hawkwood which began with Ratcatcher.
A rip-roaring, thrilling read set in 1915 during the First World War. As well as adventure, there is also real heart and soul waiting to be discovered between the pages. This is the fourth in the ‘Christopher Marlowe Cobb Thriller’ series, Kit is a war reporter and undercover agent, he is set the task of discovering who is planting horrific bombs in Paris. While you don’t actually need to have read the first books in the series, I recommend that you do, just for the pure enjoyment factor of reading them in order. Robert Olen Butler won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993, his novels have the ability to touch, connect, and alter thoughts and feelings. Intricate layers of high octane story and eloquent descriptions ensured the small details really set me in time and place. It didn’t surprise me to learn that Robert Olen Butler is a war veteran and news reporter. This felt real, I was on high alert and tenterhooks as I waited for the next heart-stopping moment. ‘Paris in the Dark’ is an enthralling well written, full on adventure of read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Heartbreaking and uplifting, the story of the workhouse orphan, Eliza, will touch your heart... Eliza was left as a small baby at the workhouse in Whitechapel, wrapped in her mother's shawl, which is all she has of the mother she never knew. At eleven years-old, she has survived sickness, near starvation and harsh beatings. Master Simpkins and his cruel daughter rule the workhouse with a rod of iron, but when Romany boy, Joe, arrives at the workhouse, his spirit and courage give Eliza hope that another life is waiting for her outside. When she is sold into service, Eliza is relieved to be out of the workhouse and hopes her fortunes are changing for the better, but cruelty and unkindness are everywhere and her salvation could become her ruin...
A lovely, fascinating, proper treat of a read set during the Blitz of World War Two. The Brogan family sit at the heart of A Ration Book Christmas which is the start of a new saga series. Concentrating on sisters Jo and Mattie, we see their lives unfold as the bombing raids take their toll. Jean Fullerton brings to life the war on the home front, the small details and descriptions fully set the scene, supporting the storyline beautifully. I took this close knit family to my heart, from little rascal Billy through to unshakable Gran Queenie. Each and every character feels rounded, real, tangible. I let myself simply sink into the story, and it wrapped itself cosily around me. Romance, gossip, scandal, pain, friendship and love make their mark and I was left wanting to know more about this family. A Ration Book Christmas is food for the soul, it’s simply deliciously readable and enjoyable.
Gosh, just stunning! For me, this is the very definition of a must-read… eloquent, absorbing, absolutely fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable. I thought The Last Hours (which you really do need to read first) was exquisitely engaging and satisfying, and I enjoyed The Turn of Midnight just as much, perhaps even more as the characters were known to me, beloved by me. Lady Anne and educated serf Thaddeus have joined forces to prevent the Black Death from decimating their community. As they attempt to secure the independence of Develish however, trouble continues to haunt them, to hunt them down. Maps and a summary of the people, places and events from The Last Hours ensured I was able to step straight into the story. Minette Walters has the most beautiful voice, my soul became at one with the words. I sank so fully into the story that I was surprised at the end of each chapter when I suddenly came to and became aware of my surroundings. The time, the place are vibrantly alive, I could touch kindness, smell bitterness, taste fear. Please, please, please let there be more! The Turn of Midnight is a powerful, gripping read, and yes I am gushing most effusively over it, that’s because it really is rather wonderful and I highly recommend buying yourself a copy.
The breathtaking debut from the winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction 2018 In this epic tale of fate, fortune and legacy, Jennifer Makumbi vibrantly brings to life this corner of Africa and this colourful family as she reimagines the history of Uganda through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan. The year is 1750. Kintu Kidda sets out for the capital to pledge allegiance to the new leader of the Buganda kingdom. Along the way he unleashes a curse that will plague his family for generations. Blending oral tradition, myth, folktale and history, Makumbi weaves together the stories of Kintu's descendants as they seek to break free from the burden of their past to produce a majestic tale of clan and country - a modern classic.
For readers of Schindler's List, The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas comes a heart-breaking story of the very best of humanity in the very worst of circumstances. I tattooed a number on her arm. She tattooed her name on my heart. In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival - scratching numbers into his fellow victims' arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale - a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer - it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure this woman, Gita, did, too. So begins one of the most life-affirming, courageous, unforgettable and human stories of the Holocaust: the love story of the tattooist of Auschwitz. ----- 'Extraordinary - moving, confronting and uplifting . . . I recommend it unreservedly' Greame Simsion 'A moving and ultimately uplifting story of love, loyalties and friendship amidst the horrors of war . . . It's a triumph.' Jill Mansell
The wry, macabre, unforgettable tale of an ambitious orphan in Revolutionary Paris, befriended by royalty and radicals alike, who transforms herself into the legendary Madame Tussaud. In 1761, a tiny, odd-looking girl named Marie is born in a village in Alsace. After the death of her parents, she is apprenticed to an eccentric wax sculptor and whisked off to the seamy streets of Paris, where they meet a domineering widow and her quiet, pale son. Together, they convert an abandoned monkey house into an exhibition hall for wax heads, and the spectacle becomes a sensation. As word of her artistic talent spreads, Marie is called to Versailles, where she tutors a princess and saves Marie Antoinette in childbirth. But outside the palace walls, Paris is roiling: The revolutionary mob is demanding heads, and . . . at the wax museum, heads are what they do.
The world’s most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot – the legendary star of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and most recently The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket—returns in a stylish, diabolically clever mystery set in 1930’s London. Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met. Poirot has also never heard of a Barnabas Pandy, and has accused nobody of murder. Shaken, he goes inside, only to find that he has a visitor waiting for him a man who also claims also to have received a letter from Poirot that morning, accusing him of the murder of Barnabas Pandy Poirot wonders how many more letters of this sort have been sent in his name. Who sent them, and why? More importantly, who is Barnabas Pandy, is he dead, and, if so, was he murdered? And can Poirot find out the answers without putting more lives in danger?
At the fortress of the eagles, three kings will fight... Uhtred of Bebbanburg has won back his ancestral home but, threatened from all sides by enemies both old and new, he doesn't have long to enjoy the victory. In Mercia, rebellion is in the air as King Edward tries to seize control. In Wessex, rival parties scramble to settle on the identity of the next king. And across the country invading Norsemen continue their relentless incursion, ever hungry for land. Uhtred - a legendary warrior, admired and sought as an ally, feared as an adversary - finds himself once again torn between his two heritages: fighting on what he considers the wrong side, cursed by misfortune and tragedy and facing one of his most formidable enemies. Only the most astute cunning, the greatest loyalty and the most spectacular courage can save him. For decades, Uhtred has stood at the intersection between Pagan and Christian, between Saxon and Viking, between the old world he was born into and the new world being forged around him. But as the winds of change gather pace, the pressure on Uhtred as father, as politician and as warrior grows as never before.
From the Sunday Times Number One bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches, soon to be a major Sky TV series, a novel about what it takes to become a vampire. From human to vampire ... Marcus Whitmore was made a vampire in the eighteenth century. Over two hundred years later, he finds himself in love with Phoebe Taylor, a human who decides to become a vampire herself. But her transformation will prove as challenging now as it was for Marcus when he first encountered Matthew de Clermont, his sire. While Phoebe is secreted away, Marcus relives his own journey from the battlefields of the American Revolutionary War, through the treachery of the French Revolution to a bloody finale in New Orleans. His belief in liberty, equality and brotherhood challenged at every stage by the patriarchy of the de Clermonts. What will he and Phoebe discover in one another when they are finally reunited at Les Revenants, beneath the watchful gaze of Matthew and his wife, Diana Bishop? Sunday Times Number One bestselling author Deborah Harkness returns to the spellbinding world she created in A Discovery of Witches and, through the prism of an unconventional love story, explores the power of tradition and the endless possibilities for change.
London, 1570. The body of a “male child, malformed in the limbs” is washed-up in the mud of the Thames. While the Queen’s Coroner presumes him to have drowned, Dr Nicholas Shelby deduces that the marks on the boy’s body point to him being murdered but, since the boy is of no importance, no one cares, except for principled Shelby himself. When a second body is found bearing the same markings, he sets about discovering the killer’s identity, and it soon becomes clear that there are more victims besides. An exhilarating cast of characters emerge from the unfolding action, among them Bianca, an enigmatic innkeeper with apothecary skills. And so a richly suspenseful story of risk and betrayal plays out against a backdrop of political instability, paranoia and heresy. Fans of CJ Sansom and SG Maclean will surely be heartily satisfied by this elegant historical mystery.
Dust off your dance cards and practice your repartee, as the Bennet sisters are back. Kitty Bennet is lonely, with three of her sisters married, she begins to consider her previous antics. Spending time with both Jane and Lizzy, Kitty’s eyes open to new possibilities. I adore anything that lengthens my forays into Jane Austen’s world and I immediately felt at home. I could see, hear, almost reach out and touch the much-loved characters as they walked in my mind. This is such a gentle, loving, and beautifully readable novel, you don’t actually need to have read Pride and Prejudice to step into the pages. Carrie Kablean perhaps sees certain well-loved characters with a slightly different eye to my own, which was fascinating as I felt myself evaluating my own impressions and thoughts. What Kitty Did Next is a delightful, thoroughly enjoyable read, and I fairly skipped through from beginning to end.
A feverishly seductive story, it whispers, cajoles, beckons from history until the past forcefully assaults the present. When Ruth’s estranged father dies she returns to Edinburgh and discovers the hidden diary of her ancestor Thomas Erskine. Fascinated by his story Ruth finds herself in extraordinary danger when she starts to delve into the past. The prologue offers a warning, while the first chapter thoroughly sets the scene in 1760 as 10 year old Thomas witnesses a murder and sees the shadow of the dead man as it leaves the body. Barbara Erskine has based the story on her own family history, she paints a picture with a beautiful delicate balance and inner strength as the drama starts to unfold. Ruth’s story stands resolute in this time, and with a delicious shiver of fear I let the story take me where it willed. I always knew where I was, even as the past pushed ever closer. Spellbinding and gorgeously readable, as all becomes clear The Ghost Tree really is the most perfect title - highly recommended.
Cloaking herself in Christie’s Poirot mantle for the third time, bestselling crime writer Sophie Hannah here presents Hercule Poirot with something of a peculiarly personal puzzle. Our loveable hero is left feeling somewhat perplexed when an agitated middle-aged woman - “a whirlwind most fierce” – demands to know why he sent her a letter accusing her of killing a certain Barnabas Pandy. And then a second person presents themselves, demanding to know the very same thing. Mon dieu! Poirot has no idea who Pandy is, or why someone is sending these letters in his name, and so a thrillingly unpredictable mystery unfolds. The writing is elegant, suffused with the spirit of, and reverence for, Poirot’s creator, and this makes for an entertainingly satisfying experience.
Millions of readers have been enthralled by the saga that began in The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, which now continues with Ken Follett's magnificent, gripping A Column of Fire. A WORLD IN TURMOIL 1558, and Europe is in revolt as religious hatred sweeps the continent. Elizabeth Tudor has ascended to the throne but she is not safe in this dangerous new world. There are many who would see her removed, not least Mary Queens of Scots, who lies in wait in Paris. A NEW ORDER Elizabeth determines to set up a new secret service: a group of resourceful spies and courageous agents entrusted to keep her safe and in power. As she searches for those who will make the difference, one man stands out. A MAN WHO WOULD DIE FOR HIS QUEEN For Ned Willard the opportunity to serve his queen is God-sent. He cannot stay in Kingsbridge and watch the love of his life marry another, and as fires burn and extremism begins to spark throughout Europe, Ned makes his choice. He will spend his life protecting his monarch from the tyrants who aim to destroy her or die trying . . .
A new emotional and gritty drama from the bestselling author of The Throwaway Children. After her mother's death, twenty-year-old Sophie Ross is left orphaned, with only her erstwhile nursemaid and faithful friend, Hannah for company. Penniless and little chance of an income, she looks for work as a governess in London to avoid destitution. But unbeknown to Sophie, her mother instructed Hannah to post a letter to Trescadinnick House in Cornwall upon her death. The letter will be the catalyst that changes Sophie's life forever as she learns of her mother's doomed romance and family she left behind in Cornwall. The Penvarrow family welcomes Sophie into their fold, but the new life she's built is threatened by secrets and lies that soon come to light...
December 1348. With the country in the grip of the Black Death, brothers John and William fear that they will shortly die and go to Hell. But as the end draws near, they are given an unexpected choice: either to go home and spend their last six days in their familiar world, or to search for salvation across the forthcoming centuries - living each one of their remaining days ninety-nine years after the last. John and William choose the future and find themselves in 1447, ignorant of almost everything going on around them. The year 1546 brings no more comfort, and 1645 challenges them still further. It is not just that technology is changing: things they have taken for granted all their lives prove to be short-lived. As they find themselves in stranger and stranger times, the reader travels with them, seeing the world through their eyes as it shifts through disease, progress, enlightenment and war. But their time is running out - can they do something to redeem themselves before the six days are up?
Once Upon a Time…
With authors like the two-time Man Booker Prize winning Hilary Mantel among its illuminati, it’s no wonder that Historical Fiction is arguably more popular than ever. Follow the lives, loves, betrayals, deaths, trials-and-tribulations of those that went before us.
Whether you follow Sebastian Faulks and P.S Duffy to the hell and displacement of the Front in WWI, Philippa Gregory to the intrigue, immorality and perils of the court of Henry VIII, or get rocked on the high seas of the King’s Navy in Patrick O’Brien’s Master and Commander, there is a wealth of exceptional storytelling to dive headfirst into. Where will you let our time machine take you today?
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