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 powerful debut exploring the dark side of Cornwall - the wrecking and the drowned sailors - where poverty drove villagers to dark deeds.. Shipwrecks are part of life in the remote village of Porthmorven, Cornwall. And as the sea washes the bodies of the drowned onto the beach, it also brings treasures: barrels of liquor, exotic fruit, the chance to lift a fine pair of boots from a corpse, maybe even a jewel or two. When, after a fierce storm, Mary Blight rescues a man half-dead from the sea, she ignores the whispers of her neighbours and carries him home to nurse better. Gideon Stone is a Methodist minister from Newlyn, a married man. Touched by Mary's sacrifice and horrified by the superstitions and pagan beliefs the villagers cling to, Gideon sets out to bring light and salvation to Porthmorven by building a chapel on the hill. But the village has many secrets and not everyone wants to be saved. As Mary and Gideon find themselves increasingly drawn together, jealousy, rumour and suspicion is rife. Gideon has demons of his own to face, and soon Mary's enemies are plotting against her... Gripping, beautifully written and utterly beguiling, Noel O'Reilly's debut WRECKER is a story of love, injustice, superstition and salvation, set against Cornwall's dark past.
New York, 1799: Justy Flanagan, lawyer, soldier, policeman, has returned to his native city, bloodied and battered after fighting in the Irish Rebellion against the English. Determined to hunt down the man who murdered his father, his inquiries lead him to Wall Street and the fledgling stock market there. But as his investigations into the past move ahead, the horrific murders of young slave women in the present start to occupy his time. Convinced that there is a link between his father's murder, the deaths of the young women, and a massive fraud that nearly destroyed New York's economy, Justy can trust no one. As the conspiracy deepens, it becomes clear that those involved will stop at nothing to keep their secrets. Justy is forced to choose: will he betray his father's memory, compromise his integrity, and risk the lives of his closest friends, to get to the bottom of a tale so dangerous, it could change the landscape of America forever?
MUNICH, SEPTEMBER 1938 Hitler is determined to start a war. Chamberlain is desperate to preserve the peace. They will meet in a city which forever afterwards will be notorious for what is about to take place. As Chamberlain's plane judders over the channel and the Fuhrer's train steams south, two young men travel with their leaders. Former friends from a more peaceful time, they are now on opposing sides. As Britain's darkest hour approaches, the fate of millions could depend on them - and the secrets they're hiding. Spying. Betrayal. Murder. Is any price too high for peace?
A touchingly intimate yet scorchingly dramatic and fully realised view of a couple who meet just before the Second World War. This is a relationship tale that took hold of me, brought me to its very centre and allowed me access to innermost thoughts and feelings. Martin and Nancy fall in love, as Martin departs for the battlefields of France, they continue to communicate by letter, until suddenly Martin’s letters stop. My advice to you is to pick this book up, start to read, and whatever you do, do not allow the final few pages to fall open before you reach them. For me the ending was a heart-stopping moment, and is still very much in my mind, the emotion of the realisation continues to affect me. The letters are exquisitely crafted, with real heart, tying into the story perfectly and bringing a sense of nostalgia for this type of communication. S. C. Worrall allows the war to edge ever closer, until it strikes with a sharp hammer blow. ‘The Very White of Love’ takes you step by step into another time, heartfelt and beautiful I can wholeheartedly recommend this read.
A brilliantly conceived Viking epic set in eighth-century Sweden. Bernard Cornwall meets George R.R. Martin in this ambitious, masterful series. Action-packed, evocative and impressively grand in scope, this second installment of The Wanderer Chronicles is a veritable feast of character-driven Viking verve, fusing fantasy with history, and blending detail with brilliant broad brushstroke atmosphere. The time and place is 8th century Sweden. Viking Erlan Aurvandil has pledged to serve Sviggar, King of the Sveärs and enemy of Harald Wartooth, King of the Danes. Thus when Wartooth stirs the embers of an ancient feud, Erlan is bound by his oath to remain loyal to Sviggar. Alongside struggles of allegiance, and the brutalities of battlefield conflict, high-stake conflicts of the heart also come into play when the King’s daughter falls for Erlan. Further trying tests of loyalty ensue as the violence escalates, with both the battle scenes and personal struggles evoked with sword-sharp precision. Certainly recommended for fans of Bernard Cornwall and George RR Martin, this is a highly readable epic of Shakespearean proportions, with a lightness of touch and sense of otherworldly mystery dancing alongside the high drama of torn loyalties and tragedy.
A scorching and beautifully written epic tale set in 1348, a time that sends a jagged screech of fingernails down the blackboard of history. Step away from the present into the midst of the Black Death, to overwhelming fear and confusion. The moated centre of one estate in Dorset appears to offer sanctuary, yet the treacherous play of human emotions wreaks havoc. I am a fan of Minette Walters, she has the ability to look behind and beyond the obvious, and she is eminently suited to this new genre. A lot of characters are introduced, yet there is no confusion, each was clear in my mind, known to me and vibrantly alive. The descriptions took me directly through the words and into this compelling story. ‘The Last Hours’ is the first of two novels, it quickly puts down roots and takes hold, ensuring a gripping, striking and remarkably readable tale.
To those around her she was a loyal subject. In her heart she was a traitor. The Queen of the title is Elizabeth Mortimer 1371-1417, married to Sir Henry Percy (known as Hotspur) and upon his death to Thomas de Camoys. This is another of the author’s excellent retelling of the lives of medieval women. Written in the first person, this untangles history in a highly readable manner. It seems Elizabeth loved her first husband who assisted Henry IV to dethrone Richard II and was killed in battle. But in fact Elizabeth wanted her nephew, eight-year old Edmond, to become King but she kept this to herself. Upon Hotspur’s death he was pronounced a traitor and Elizabeth arrested. The King then gave her a choice, marry de Camoys or go into a nunnery. She married de Camoys, he was in his sixties, and the books ends with her settling into a harmonious relationship. I think the strength of this is that it is written in the first person, highly enjoyable.
The Malabar coast is full of dangers: greedy tradesmen, fearless pirates, and men full of vengeance. But for a Courtney, the greatest danger might just be his own family... After his father's gambling debts leave him penniless and in danger, Francis Courtney seeks revenge and fortune in South Africa. But on arrival, he uncovers a truth that leaves him overwhelmed and disoriented. Meanwhile, his cousin Christopher Courtney begins to make his own way in the world, foregoing the righteous path and falling prey to betrayal, violence and treachery. In this epic journey from the southernmost point of Africa to the lush Indian coastline, the lives of these two Courtney men will intertwine, and forever alter the course of their famous family. From the world's greatest storyteller comes a compelling and breathless tale of intrigue and betrayal that draws the Courtney's together, and just as easily tears them apart.
A forbidden love. A deadly secret. `An absorbing, well-researched story that brings to life an extraordinary period in history' GILL PAUL, bestselling author of The Secret Wife A fascinating, bold read, allowing you access to the Second World War from an unusual viewpoint. Magda Ritter tells her own story as she moves from Berlin to Hitler’s retreat The Berghof to act as the ultimate protector, Hitler’s food taster. Magda has to be prepared to give her life for the Fuhrer, yet she finds love and a social conscience in the most unlikely of places. V. S. Alexander writes with a beautiful simplicity, allowing the heart of the story to shine through. The words encourage you to imagine, to experience, to feel. Taking you into the heart of Germany during the Second World War, ‘Her Hidden Life’ is an absorbing and intriguing foray, that encouraged me to think and feel from an entirely different perspective.
War rages, but the women and children of Liverpool's Dr Barnado's Home cannot give up hope. An Orphan's War is a gripping saga about love and loss on the Home Front. A lovely, heartfelt, warming slice of saga fiction set during the Second World War. Maxine endures heartbreak at the beginning of the war, she then faces an impossible choice before finding herself a job at a Dr Barnardo’s orphanage in Liverpool. Maxine is a wonderfully thoughtful, loveable character, supported by the author, who with care and compassion covers some moving and poignant topics. I found myself visiting the effects of the war on the home front, and some previously unexplored and interesting areas. There is a gentleness to the writing as it walks some difficult paths, ensuring ‘An Orphan’s War’ is an engaging, generous read.
May 2018 Book of the Month An intimate, beautifully told, occasionally rambunctious tale set in 17th century England. Ursula Flight was born at an inauspicious time, she tells her own highly entertaining, yet poignant tale from birth. Ursula bounded from the page into wondrous life, I could feel her emotions, her wild, kind, impetuous nature spoke to me. Anna-Marie Crowhurst has created a vibrant, stunning setting for Ursula, the countryside of her childhood is so beautifully imagined, I found myself looking around, smelling, touching, feeling. Ursula’s own writing is scattered through the novel, her thoughts, letters and plays allow direct contact with her, as when she writes she is free, and unencumbered by the morals of the time. I have to admit to feeling a certain amount of disquiet as I read, one part of me was in the present, living life with Ursula, the other part was wondering what would become of this spirited young woman. A blistering darkness slices through ‘The Illumination of Ursula Flight’ taking its turn in the orbiting dance of life alongside the colour and passion, which creates a truly wonderful captivating read, and I loved it.
April 2018 Book of the Month Oh wow, this is a slicing, chilling, whammy of a read that has left me reeling. In 2015 an actress is abducted, the case has all the hallmarks of a murderer who was locked up in Broadmoor ten years previously, then a body appearing to link to the abduction and murders is found in Sweden. The second in the 'Roy and Castells' series continues with sharp, fast-paced drama. I really do recommend starting at the beginning with the fabulous ‘Block 46’, you need to get to know the characters, as to try to step into the middle of the storyline would be almost impossible. The translation is spot on, at no time did I stop to consider this originated in a different language. Set in two countries, and two storylines, with one story steadily advancing through the years, I found myself on full alert and at times racing to keep up. There are sections that are so horrifyingly descriptive they are almost impossible to read, yet the story is so gripping, it is impossible not to. Johana Gustawsson delivers morsel upon morsel of information, and stomach-churning shivers raced down my body. An inkling of what is happening zipped into my thoughts, however I couldn’t have even begun to imagine the final outcome. ‘Keeper’ isn’t an easy read, it isn’t meant to be, it is thought-provoking, challenging, and an absolute knock-out…I’m still in shock - highly recommended.
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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