No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…Find out more
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.
Everything changes for rural lad Emmett Farmer when a gloriously grouchy wise woman compels him to be her bookbinding apprentice. While this line of work is generally shrouded in superstitious fear, Emmett is shocked when his mentor explains that they “don’t make books to sell, boy. Selling books is wrong”. Rather, their gothically intriguing trade involves binding unwanted memories into books: ”Whatever people can’t bear to remember. Whatever they can’t live with. We take those memories and put them where they can’t do any more harm”. Most clients are wealthy; well-to-do gentlemen who have their servants and wives bound so they forget what wrongs their masters and husbands have done to them. No wonder then, that Emmett is horrified to discover a book bearing his own name, and so a tempestuous tangle of secrets unfurls. The novel is also fragrantly spiced with witty references to literary history and the novel as an art form: “It makes one wonder who would write them [novels]. People who enjoy imagining misery, I suppose. People who have no scruples about dishonesty”. Yet through the duplicity of her exquisitely crafted characters, and luminous storytelling, this novel’s author reveals truths of the human spirit in a most entertaining and absorbing fashion.
Destiny's War Part One: Saladin's Secret by Pyram King is the first of five proposed short novels, in which the author weaves together events from the Middle Eastern theatre of WW1 with ancient legends from the same area and explores the complex effects of one upon the other. It's a fascinating mix of fact and fiction, well-researched and very readable. The story is narrated by one Francis Marion Jager, aka Mare, a journalist of Swiss-German and American descent, who, at the start of the book, is writing for a London paper. When his services are no longer required, he is invited to accompany British troops on a secret offensive, as he is fluent in both German and Arabic. The latter he has learnt during travels with Bedouin, along with a detailed geographical knowledge of the area. The action takes place in Egypt and Syria in 1917, but with frequent reference to the powerful history of the region, which soon becomes dangerously entwined with the 20th-century arena of war. The book is illustrated with monochrome pictures of some of the main players and venues in the narrative. They are very atmospheric and, being understated, also slightly sinister. They evoke feelings of unease and impending doom, which is borne out in the storyline. The author highlights the inadequacies of command and lack of preparation in the British army at this time and writes using terminology, particularly for foreign nationals, that would have been common amongst officers. The battle scenes are also quite graphic so, if you are easily offended, this book is probably not for you. I found this story informative and well-constructed, though I would have preferred the very useful footnotes to have appeared at the bottom of each page, rather than at the end of the chapters but it holds a lot of promise for the rest of the series. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
An incredibly engaging, fascinating, and rather beautiful read, this book will stay with me for some time. A couple seek refuge after the Spanish Civil War and end up in Chile, where years later they again face exile. Covering the period from 1938 through to 1994, this is a story that crosses continents, examines topics such as fascism, war, and migration, yet is as intimate as intimate can be. I entered and thought no more about the fact that this was translated from Spanish by Nick Caister and Amanda Hopkinson, it is so clearly, simply, and fabulously done. Within the first few pages there were tears in my eyes. I couldn’t stop reading, thoughtful and sensitive, yet not afraid to focus on unbearable sorrow, this feels as though it could be a biography. As Isabelle Allende explains in the acknowledgments, while this is a novel, with fictional characters (though based on people she has known), the historical events and people are real. She says: “This book wrote itself, as if it had been dictated to me” and I truly felt that. A Long Petal of the Sea opened my eyes and my heart, and has left me wanting to know more. Coming as highly recommended by me, it has also been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book.
A fabulously readable, dramatic, and truly exciting start to a new series set after the death of Alexander the Great. On his deathbed Alexander refuses to name his successor, and so begins a bloody and ruthless struggle for ultimate power. Robert Fabbri introduces the players in this game beautifully, each chapter is headed by one of the opponents, with a few words summing up their nature. There are a fair few lead characters (there is a helpful list at the end), however each quickly became an individually distinct person in my mind. The author notes that nearly all of the characters actually existed, and almost all the events are noted in history. Robert Fabbri adds vivid life and breathtaking drama, and I found myself completely immersed in this fascinating story. Alexander’s Legacy: To The Strongest is a wonderful start to this new series, and has been chosen as one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month.
Well, this is one seriously addictive and fabulous read. Now that I have finished I feel bereft, exhilarated, and have one humdinger of a book hangover. Set in London, it is 1863 and private detective Bridie Devine is on the case of a stolen child. The prologue hooked me as surely as a fish on a line, I gaped, wondered, and leaned in for more. Descriptions opened with vivid intensity in my mind, creating the most glorious views. There is something about Jess Kidd’s writing that speaks directly to my soul, she knows how to lull, tickle, burn. She created a stinging tension, on a number of occasions leaving me hanging while popping into the past. I have to say that Bridie Devine is one of the most fabulous characters I’ve come across. She has taken up a somewhat boisterous lodging in my mind and she’s more than welcome! Information swirled around, making my thoughts whirl, adding to the torrent that I knew was surely coming. And oh, that ending! Things in Jars is a Victorian detective story with a difference, it crosses genres and set light to my imagination. It has been added to my list of favourite books. Bridie Devine to my list of favourite detectives. Jess Kidd has been confirmed on my list of favourite authors. Things in Jars is LoveReading Star Book, Book of the Month, and Liz Robinson Pick of the Month… Need I say more?
England lifting the Jules Rimet trophy in 1966 was controversial then and remains so to this day. In 'Fixing Sixty-six' Tim Flower debunks some of the myths surrounding our 'greatest sporting achievement' so successfully that it is at times hard to remember this is a work of fiction, albeit firmly rooted in fact. The story is mainly narrated by Harry Miller, a Liverpudlian sports journalist, working for 'The Daily Mirror'. In 1966 he was recruited by Ludovic Forsyth, the personal assistant to the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, to Operation Jules Britannia. This project's aim was nothing less than to ensure England won the World Cup to avert attention from the Labour government's inadequacies and mismanagement of the nation's economy and was to be achieved by manipulating the media, the match venues and game officials. Fast forward 50 years and Harry, now terminally ill, has no more fear of the official secrets document he signed at the time and decides to sell his story to the press. The author has captured the feel of the 60s very well. He takes us back to a time when a married woman was expected to stay home and busy herself with childcare, cooking and cleaning, as anything else was seen as an insult to her husband, implying he didn't earn enough to support his family. This may have changed drastically now but little else the book refers to has. The 'power, privilege and complacency' of the gentlemen's club, the nations 'superior' attitude to the EU and foreigners in general, the corruption within FIFA, the 'freedom' of the press and the unholy alliance between politics and big business are all much as they were and parallels are easy to see with the present day. This is a fascinating tale, all the more so knowing how much contemporary evidence supports its revelations and even someone not in the least bit interested in 'the beautiful game' will appreciate the skill of the storytelling. A thoroughly good read! Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
This is a really superb book, the type of book that you can sit comfortably in a chair in a winter's night and just totally relax with. The Author has written the story in a smooth continuous flow of writing which allows the Reader to follow the story easily without having to backtrack to previously read material to keep the theme of the story in mind. The book itself satisfies many genres and thus will appeal to a wide range of readers. The work includes love, classical background, fear, battles, friendship and so many other areas. The main characters are with the story from beginning to end with a few twists along the way which brings surprise to the reader and also draws the readers attention to a deeper understanding of the story. A classical themed story but not all romance and god's. A good read guaranteed. Catherine Bryce, A LoveReading Ambassador
Noema is a poignant imaginative tale of religion and faith. In truth, I find it a peculiar book to put into words. The plot focuses on the adaptation and evolution of an agricultural civilisation trying to deal with natural and man-made threats similar to that of modern times (hunger, deforestation, climate change and criminality). These parallels are a great tool for the reader to reflect on their own world while also following along with the story. The book begins with a rather obscure introduction and a tale that the narrator will get to as soon as they can. I found this a bit confusing, as the plot jumps about a bit and I was left unsure whether I'd missed information, or was waiting to find it out. This feeling never really left me as I read the book, constantly waiting for a big revelation about the people and the narrator. Noema uses spirituality to comment on the human condition. The reference to The Lost Ones, these taboo people who moved away from traditional ways of life centuries before appear to represent us/modern civilisation - living in open spaces in stone houses. This means that Noema serves as a warning about city/modern living and losing religious belief or faith and connection to a higher power and the natural world around us. I felt the implication of this is that it is a destructive life choice because the main focus of this book is religion and faith anthropomorphised. I liked the connections to other religions such as the All Life (the Aum of Hinduism) and the Traveller (a messenger or prophet sent to speak to and interpret the All Life), the stone house for "You" to live (a church). I think that this is a unique book dealing with a number of complex issues in an interesting way. I think that this is a great book for anyone interested in spirituality and human nature. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
For readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Choice: this is the story of the smallest library in the world - and the most dangerous. 'It wasn't an extensive library. In fact, it consisted of eight books and some of them were in poor condition. But they were books. In this incredibly dark place, they were a reminder of less sombre times, when words rang out more loudly than machine guns...' Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the 'living books' - prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be 'borrowed' to educate the children in the camp. But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children's block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor.
I had heard of Quarry Bank Mill before and the Apprentices but I had not heard about the author`s first book about Thomas Priestley and Joseph Sephton so I did some background reading first to find out more about the Mill and the Apprentices in general and also about these two young men. I found it fascinating reading so by the time I started "Mules; Masters and Mud" I very much wanted to know what happened to them. I wasn't disappointed, this was a very well written book and it filled in all the gaps, with an interesting backdrop of other characters. A well-researched and gripping book. Christine Waddington, A LoveReading Ambassador
'Sophisticated and moving...Powerful' Sunday Times A gripping historical novel about the men behind the invention of the Gutenberg Bible. Bringing tumultuous medieval Europe to life, GUTENBERG'S APPRENTICE is not to be missed by readers of Hilary Mantel, Peter Ackroyd and C. J. Sansom. Johann Gutenberg's first printed Bibles amazed and shocked medieval Europe. He had started a revolution that would one day put books in the hands of any man or woman who wanted them. The project was fraught with danger, for it threatened the power of politicians and the Catholic church. Who was this Gutenberg? In Alix Christie's evocative and compelling novel, he comes vividly to life - driven, caustic and ruthless. Behind him stands a brilliant young scribe, Peter Schoeffer, whose genius is to stay true to his artistic values in the cauldron of the printer's workshop. Caught between the old ways and the new, the two men struggle with one another and the world outside to prevail against overwhelming obstacles...and change history.
What a truly beautiful read this is, light, bright and cheerful (yet not at all frothy), there are also some heartachingly deep and dark depths waiting to be discovered. It’s 1941 and Emmeline desperately wants to become a war correspondent, she somehow finds herself working for an agony aunt and begins to secretly reply to the letters Mrs Bird refuses to answer. Emmeline tells her own tale in the most wonderfully spirited tone of voice, I could hear her so clearly, and immediately warmed to her energy and courage. A.J. Peace weaves the story of sparkling, heartfelt friendship quite marvellously through the air raids, dances, blackouts and rationing. I found myself immersed in 1941, I opened my eyes and my heart to the characters and evocative descriptions. Part of me wanted to encourage Emmeline, to clap and smile as her subterfuge escaped notice, while the other part offered caution, a number of ‘eeeks’, and I had a cushion ready to hide behind just in case. Dear Mrs Bird is just so gloriously readable, it really is an entertaining, affectionate discovery of delight and I’m keeping my fingers firmly crossed that there is more to come from the gorgeous Emmeline.
In his first novel for five years, journalist and historian A.N. Wilson creates an epic novel, with an impressive cast of real and imagined characters. Set in the late 18th century, a time of industrialisation, revolution, slavery and colonialism. A commission from the Empress of Russia for a thousand-piece dinner service for her Frog Palace sets in train a series of events that will make Wedgewood a name and a dynasty, including Charles Darwin and Ralph Vaughan Williams, that will be remembered for generations. A fascinating look at the lives of important historical figures at a turning point in British history.
September 2012 Book of the Month. In his first novel for five years, journalist and historian A.N. Wilson creates an epic novel, with an impressive cast of real and imagined characters. Set in the late 18th century, a time of industrialisation, revolution, slavery and colonialism. A commission from the Empress of Russia for a thousand-piece dinner service for her Frog Palace sets in train a series of events that will make Wedgewood a name and a dynasty, including Charles Darwin and Ralph Vaughan Williams, that will be remembered for generations. A fascinating look at the lives of important historical figures at a turning point in British history.
Winner of the 1990 Booker Prize. A novel that tells the tale of a pair of young scholars investigating the lives of two Victorian poets. Following a trail of letters, journals and poems they uncover a web of passion, deceit and tragedy, and their quest becomes a battle against time.
A culture clash love, a turn-of-the-last-century scandal beautifully written as a semi-conscious English explorer is nursed by a spiky, argumentative Muslim. Itâ€™s a dense, captivating read.Similar this month: None.Comparison: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, V S Naipaul, Paul Theroux.
Set in 1963, in Bradford, West Yorkshire, and the Ukraine, this initially appears to be a story about everyday life for a family who have not had an everyday existence. The author states that the background to this tale is true, and A.C. Michael immerses you in the past, in the scars of humanity, yet the addition of humour, thrills, and a corkscrewing plot ensure this is a thoroughly entertaining read. The larger than life characters hum (quite literally for one or two) with intensity and there are several surprises waiting in store. The Dancing Barber is a fiery, fascinating, and intriguing read. Step inside the pages and into another world.
Shortlisted for the inaugural Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction 2010. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2009. A fictionalised account of an asylum on the edge of Epping Forest where the poet John Clare spent some time. Tennyson visits the asylum adding that extra sense of reality but it is the story of the doctor Matthew Allen and his humane care for the patients in a time where such care was rare that makes this novel a pleasure to read.
Follow-up to Facing the Light â€“ how a bleak Yorkshire childhood was transformed into a career as a prima ballerina.
A dramatically absorbing and readable family drama, where between the covers prowl the social injustices and horror experienced during World War One. The author sets the two main characters apart, they may have some admirable and attractive qualities however she doesn't shy away from their less likeable traits, as such the writing encourages you to stay within the moment. Vivian is released while Howard is restricted by the onset of war which bullies its way into their lives and changes everything. The secondary characters are fascinating, they are given flesh and help to give this tale the feeling of a stirring saga. The background descriptive detailing, from the atmospheric ballroom to the bombardments of the trenches adds a vivid intensity. This thought provoking tale focuses on a love story, yet eloquently explores the social aspects existing behind the war to end all wars. ~ Liz Robinson
A dramatically absorbing and readable family drama, where between the covers prowl the social injustices and horror experienced during World War One. The author sets the two main characters apart, they may have some admirable and attractive qualities however she doesn't shy away from their less likeable traits, as such the writing encourages you to stay within the moment. Vivian is released while Howard is restricted by the onset of war which bullies its way into their lives and changes everything. The secondary characters are fascinating, they are given flesh and help to give this tale the feeling of a stirring saga. The background descriptive detailing, from the atmospheric ballroom to the bombardments of the trenches adds a vivid intensity. This thought provoking tale focuses on a love story, yet eloquently explores the social aspects existing behind the war to end all wars. ~ Liz Robinson June 2015 Book of the Month.
The third novel in the series sees new challenges for the men of the 106th Foot, as the British army attempts to recover from the disaster of Corunna and establish a foothold in the Peninsula. Featuring the battles of Medellin and Talavera, the 106th will have their mettle severely tested on the battlefield. But if Napoleon is to be ejected from Spain, war must also be waged in more covert ways. For Hanley, the former artist who is a more natural observer than fighter, the opportunity to become an 'exploring officer' leads him into even more dangerous territory, the murky world of politics and partisans. And while Ensign Williams seeks to uncover the identity of the mysterious 'Heroine of Saragossa', a conspiracy of revenge within the regiment itself threatens to destroy him before he's even faced a shot from the French.
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?