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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.
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize For the four fraught, mysterious days of her doomed maiden voyage in 1912, the Titanic sails towards New York, glittering with luxury, freighted with millionaires and hopefuls. In her labyrinthine passageways are played out the last, secret hours of a small group of passengers, their fate sealed in prose of startling, sublime beauty, as Beryl Bainbridge's haunting masterpiece moves inexorably to its known and terrible end.
March 2012 Guest Editor Alan Bradley on Patrick O'Brian... Beginning with “Master and Commander” this beautifully-written series follows the fortunes of a most unlikely couple of companions: Jack Aubrey, a large, bluff and not overly-refined sea captain, and Stephen Maturin, a Catalan ship’s doctor and part-time spy. Their lives, their wives, their loves and tragedies are etched in loving and unforgettable detail.
One of the most admired of all Penelope Fitzgerald's books, The Blue Flower was chosen as Book of the Year more than any other in 1995. Her final book, it confirmed her reputation as one of the finest novelists of the century. A masterpiece. One of Joanna Trollope's favourite books. I had supper with her once, in the converted garage of her daughter’s house, where she was then living, and she was as warm and restrained and acute and beguiling as her books, of which my absolute favourite is The Blue Flower, the story of an extraordinary betrothal in eighteenth century Germany. If anyone needs a pattern of How To Write, Penelope Fitzgerald is IT. Click here to read Penelope Fitzgerald's son-in-law discuss her legacy to coincide with the 100th anniversary of her birth.
February 2012 Guest Editor Joanna Trollope on J.G. Farrell... He won the Lost Booker prize for Troubles and the real Booker – forever ago - for The Siege Of Krishnapur. I love the elegance of his writing, and the wit, and the sense of the absurd, and the way he can transport you to a whole crazy other world. He drowned, off the coast of Ireland, when he was only 44. A real loss. The Lovereading view... A new edition of the 1973 Booker Prize winning novel. A brilliant, dark humorous book about the decline of colonialism and an exploration of class, race and culture in general. Great stuff.
July 2011 Guest Editor Alexander McCall Smith on The Towers of Trebizond This is a humorous classic that is largely ignored today but which is still as amusing as it was when it was first published. It has a classic first line, never since equalled.
Winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize. An involving and interesting tale set in 1919 about a World War One veteran, Brendan Archer, who travels to Ireland to find the girl he rashly got engaged to three years earlier. When love appears to have been lost Brendan finds himself drawn in to the world of the Palm Court hotel just as Ireland faces it’s most dramatic political upheaval. A book of humour, pathos and politics. Totally absorbing and unputdownable.
January 2014 Guest Editor Jodi Picoult on Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I memorized huge passages when I was twelve and pretended to be both Rhett and Scarlett (hence I had no boyfriend till I was 15…). I loved that Margaret Mitchell had created a world out of words, and I wanted to do the same thing. The Lovereading view... First published in 1936, this book is a historical novel set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War. It tells the love story of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. February 2011 Guest Editor Carmen Reid on Margaret Mitchell... Gone With The Wind must be the grandmammie of romantic novels. Yes it’s over 1000 pages long and you know the story already because you’ve watched the epic film over many a bank holiday. But February strikes me as the perfect month to turn the telly off, go to bed early and wade through this Southern Civil war blockbuster. Tighten your crinoline, practise saying: ‘Oh Ashley!’ And ‘No, no, Rhett!’ And vow to the skies that you will never, ever be poor again! Realise why it’s so terrifically good that Margaret snagged herself a Pulitzer Prize in 1937.
An informant claims to have information about the whereabouts of the man entrusted by the Tsar with hiding his gold. As the news of the informant reaches Stalin, however, the man is knifed to death. Stalin summons Pekkala to the Kremlin and orders him to solve the murder. To accomplish his mission, he must return to Borodok, the notorious Gulag where he himself spent many years as a prisoner. There, he must pose as a inmate in order to unravel the mystery...As he returns to the nightmares of his past, is this a mission too far for the great Pekkala?
The Victorian gossipmongers called them The Petticoat Men. But to young widow Mattie Stacey, they are Freddie and Ernest, her gentlemen lodgers. It is Mattie who admires their sparkling gowns, makes their extravagant hats and laughs at their stories of attending society balls dressed up as the glamorous 'Fanny' and 'Stella'. But one fateful night Fanny and Stella are arrested, and Mattie and her family are dragged into a shocking court trial, described in newspapers all over England as 'The Scandal of the Century'. Outraged, Mattie is determined to save her family from ruin, and her friends from shame and penury. She embarks on a brave journey to expose the establishment's hypocrisy - including the involvement of Mr Gladstone the Prime Minister, and the Prince of Wales. For Fanny and Stella are dangerous ladies, and these are dangerous times...
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?