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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.
A well-researched historical fiction novel. In the Shadow of Rome is set in Caledonia (Scotland) and tells the story of the native Caledonians trying to exist within the new occupying Roman empire. As with any tale of colonisation, this is sometimes peaceful, sometimes not. The conflict between Sigdan, a native of Scandanavia rewarded for his fierceness in battle with a rank, and Vespasian, an incompetent Roman officer adds an interesting dimension of jealousy and power to the story. We also see Sigdan's relationship with Giorsal, an apothecary who lives near the fort and is pregnant with his child. Her talents are sought out by escaped slaves which leads to dramatic consequences. I think that this book is very well-researched. I liked the depth of each of the characters as well as the descriptions of roman life, battles etc. It is a good historical fiction as it creates a picture of the time and place and allows the reader to be drawn into a world that is unfamiliar to them. I don't know a great deal about the roman empire, I studied it briefly in high school and everything else can be taken from Monty Python or Gladiator, but I was incredibly interested by this entire story. Perhaps because of my lack of knowledge, I also found it interesting that the novel was set outside of Rome, allowing us to consider what life would be like in the empire from a colony's point of view. The time and effort that the author has put into developing their background knowledge is on full display in this book. I think that the author portrays all aspects of this story well and I would definitely recommend it.
A thoroughly entertaining, evocative, and wonderfully written historical mystery set in 1591. Physician and spy Nicholas Shelby joins forces with tavern keeper Bianca Merton in an investigation that could lead the country into civil war. This is the second in the ‘Jackdaw Mysteries’ series, you could start here, however I really do recommend going back to the beginning with ‘The Angel’s Mark’. S. W. Perry sets fiction intermingling with fact, and it is easy to believe that this could have been real. The writing prods and provokes thoughts and feelings, I could step forward into the sleaze and squalor, hear whispered conversations, feel the fragility of life in those times. Nicholas and Bianca are a fascinating duo, each interesting in their own right, together creating a force to be reckoned with. Vividly dramatic and engrossing, ‘The Serpent’s Mark’ ensures that this is a series that promises much and lives up to expectations, I eagerly await the next.
An absolutely fascinating dual-time frame novel focusing on the Italian Resistance in 1944, and what starts as an investigation into a hit and run accident in 1999. Sandro Bellini is just 18 years old when he falls in love with the wife of his commander during the Second World War. Michael Keats is determined to locate the man who had been having an affair with his wife before she was killed in 1999. Set in a valley near Lake Como in Northern Italy, these two time frames weave together to create a truly captivating tale. The first few chapters set my intrigue antenna on full alert. I have an interest in the Second World War, and wondered whether the story from 1944 would push 1999 to one side. Gordon Kerr however, ensures that the two time lines are equally gripping, particularly as events start to embrace. The characters feel entirely believable and their emotions beat and thrum across the page. The pace and tension increased throughout and I found the ending extremely satisfying. ‘The Partisan Heart’ is a well-written, clever tale focussing on intimate feelings during the most stressful of times.
Prussia, “the winter of 1946. A cold and terrible postwar winter, a time of desolation”. In this bleak situation of never-ending cold and never-ending hunger, in a world in which “people are the wolves now”, Eva and Martha fight to keep their children fed and safe as Russian troops take over, and then their eldest sons steal away to Lithuania in a coal wagon. It’s no wonder that this elegant and intricate debut has garnered its Lithuanian author many awards. The children’s journeys see them labour, beg, escape knives, dodge bullets and summon every ounce of wit and strength. This tale is a testament to the tough resilience of the human spirit, and voices a lesser-known episode of European history with stylish solemnity.
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.
WINNER OF THE IRISH POST EASON NOVEL OF THE YEAR 1878: The Lyceum Theatre, London. Three extraordinary people begin their life together, a life that will be full of drama, transformation, passionate and painful devotion to art and to one another. Henry Irving, the Chief, is the volcanic leading man and impresario; Ellen Terry is the most lauded and desired actress of her generation, outspoken and generous of heart; and ever following along behind them in the shadows is the unremarkable theatre manager, Bram Stoker. Fresh from life in Dublin as a clerk, Bram may seem the least colourful of the trio but he is wrestling with dark demons in a new city, in a new marriage, and with his own literary aspirations. As he walks the London streets at night, streets haunted by the Ripper and the gossip which swirls around his friend Oscar Wilde, he finds new inspiration. But the Chief is determined that nothing will get in the way of his manager's devotion to the Lyceum and to himself. And both men are enchanted by the beauty and boldness of the elusive Ellen. This exceptional novel explores the complexities of love that stands dangerously outside social convention, the restlessness of creativity, and the experiences that led to Dracula, the most iconic supernatural tale of all time. SHORTLISTED FOR TWO AN POST IRISH BOOK AWARDS
AN EPIC NEW NOVEL FROM THE GLOBALLY BESTSELLING AUTHOR In the battle for power, two enemies will collide Lord Uhtred of Bebbanburg knows that peace is far from reach. Though he has won the battle for his ancestral home, rebellion looms in Mercia and invading Norsemen appear at every turn. With the country in turmoil, Uhtred comes face-to-face with King Skoll, a violent Norseman leading an army of ulfhedinn, or wolf warriors, hellbent on seizing a kingdom - and killing any in his path. Surrounded and outnumbered by new enemies, Uhtred must call on all his skill and courage to survive, and prevent his beloved Northumbria from falling to the Viking hoards.
I absolutely adored this very special, surprising and exquisitely written novel focusing on the period between the First and Second World Wars. In 1925 Selina Lomax regularly appears in the papers as she and her friends attend parties and live life to the full. When Selina meets struggling artist Lawrence Weston her life changes beyond all recognition. I entered ‘The Glittering Hour’ expecting the beautiful relationship tale that I found. However I also left having experienced so, so much more. Iona Grey has created sentences that caught and transported me with their stunning descriptions. The story slinks through time and space, effortlessly revealing links from the past that become present in the future. As I read, moments of understanding speared my awareness and left me reeling. I felt joy, tenderness, aching sadness, and I cried, really, really cried at the beauty in front of me. I wield my highly recommended stamp of approval all over The Glittering Hour, it really is the most wonderfully heartfelt and meaningful read, and so sits as a LoveReading star book.
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but 18 years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe's new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.
A truly fascinating and readable story that gathers thoughts, surprises feelings, and encourages hearts to fill. Opening in 1761, we meet Marie who tells of her life as a servant, a seemingly simple start collides with one of the most bizarre and violent times in French history. Edward Carey writes with true eloquence as Marie relives her story with a quiet and gentle resilience. Drawings sit alongside the words, sharing space, further exploring the passageways through her mind. There is true horror to be found, from the small and intimate to the huge and inconceivable, human nature, human needs, human wants spill from the page while we soak up Marie’s life. There is also magic waiting to be discovered, and as the ending approached and a particular realisation was made, I exclaimed out loud. This is a tale that is seeped in fact and is now calling for me to take a little wander into the history books and discover more about this time. Beautifully written, ‘Little’ is a unique novel sharing gruesome shivers and moments of touching heartache to create a perfect reading moment in time.
A darkly glamorous tale of hedonism, shifting social sands and coming-of-age crises - think The Great Gatsby in colonial Kenya. Fourteen-year-old Theo’s first impressions of his new life in East Africa - a world away from England - encapsulates this novel’s intoxicating sense of place: “Across the bay was Zanzibar...a stretch of brilliant white sand dotted with palms and matched by the whitewashed palace and fort at its edge. To the left I could see an Indian banyan tree, alive with vervet monkeys, and behind that, the shaded labyrinthine streets of Stone Town.” And then: “Kenya was the Africa I’d dreamed of”. Soon after his family’s arrival, with his father appointed new Director of the railway, Theo fatefully meets twenty-something good-timers Freddie (Lord Hamilton) and Sylvie (introduced by Freddie as an “unsuitable woman”). Described by Sylvie as “absurdly handsome”, Theo is drawn into the decadent world of their notorious Happy Valley set. Against a backdrop of fluctuating politics, he finds himself caught in a web of compromising personal conundrums, while younger sister Maud comes to identify more with the colonised population than with her own colonial class. Steeped in exhilarating atmosphere, coming-of-age conflicts, and historical intrigue, and boasting brilliant characterisation, this is an exquisitely entertaining showstopper of a story, best read while reclining with a comely cocktail to hand.
The brand new Courtney Series novel, and the much-anticipated sequel to the global bestseller WAR CRY Torn apart by war, Saffron Courtney and Gerhard von Meerbach are thousands of miles apart, both struggling for their lives. Gerhard - despite his objections to the Nazi regime - is fighting for the Fatherland, hoping to one day have the opportunity to rid Germany of Hitler and his cronies. But as his unit is thrown into the hellish attrition of the Battle of Stalingrad, he knows his chances of survival are dwindling by the day. Meanwhile Saffron - recruited by the Special Operations Executive and sent to occupied Belgium to discover how the Nazis have infiltrated SOE's network - soon finds herself being hunted by Germany's most ruthless spymaster. Confronted by evil beyond their worst imaginings, the lovers must each make the hardest choice of all: sacrifice themselves, or do whatever they can to survive, hoping that one day they will be reunited. Courtney's War is an epic story of courage, betrayal and undying love that takes the reader to the very heart of a world at war.
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?