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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.
The lives of the whole Brontë family and the people who interacted with them in a glorious, beautifully written novel to lose yourself in. The pace is perfect, the right amount of description, no big holes of nothingness, no gaps or spaces, just a wonderful novel capturing the period with all its inequality and cruelty. Quite simply a lovely book about sisters you thought you knew about but will discover you did not. Comparison: Sarah Dunant, Jane Borodale, Tracy Chevalier.
For fans of Ellis Peters and C J Sansom we think we have found a new historical detective to follow, Hew Cullan a newly qualified 16th century lawyer. The opening chapters of Hue and Cry were shortlisted for a Debut Dagger (very hightly prized by crime writers) but the author took 7 years to complete it and it was worth the wait. Well researched and well written it will keep you gripped and guessing to the last page. The Hew Cullan series:1. Hue & Cry2. Fate & Fortune3. Time & Tide4. Friend & Foe5. Queen & Country
Winner of the prestigious 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. The Poisonwood Bible was a very special book, this one, her first in ten years, is a very worthy book. You need stamina and time to tackle it and you do need to finish it for the tragic-comic conclusion is extraordinary. Comparison: Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas Keneally, David Mitchell. “What’s wonderful about this novel is not only the exquisite writing, but the way it makes the reader very active. You have to put the story together. Lots of mystery and a very passionate investigation of what love is.” Michèle Roberts (Orange Prize for Fiction 2010 judging panel) Click here to read a Q & A with this author.
A 2013 World Book Night selection. This is a must for any of you who devour their historical fiction. Focusing on one of the most scandalous and intriguing times in British history The White Queen centres around Elizabeth Woodville, the mother of the Princes in the Tower. Incredibly rich in historical fact and with characters so convincingly imagined you will be totally drawn in to this story of politics, power, murder and scandal. This is Philippa Gregory at the top of her game and we thoroughly recommend it. The Cousins' War series:1. The White Queen2. The Red Queen3. The Lady of the Rivers4. The Kingmaker's Daughter
May 2010 Book of the Month. Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 22 April 2010. The structure here is interesting. It begins in London in 1981 with Georgy and his wife Zoya. She is dying. Chapter two takes us to Russia in 1915 and Georgy’s young life. So, in alternating chapters, the contemporary story moves back and the historical one forward until they meet in 1918. The historical episodes centre on the Romanovs to whom Georgy was a bodyguard. After their deaths Georgy and Zoya flee and seem to spend their lives in fear, we know not from what. When it is revealed I certainly didn’t see it coming …. Brilliant. A lovely book, highly recommended. Comparison: Sebastian Faulks, Tom Rob Smith, Kate Furnivall. John Boyne introduces THE HOUSE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE..."My previous two novels were narrated by children – a 9 year old and 14 year old respectively – so when I began THE HOUSE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE I knew that I wanted a break from this and so I began chapter one with the voice of an 82 year old Russian emigre in London, a man for whom English is not his first language and who therefore speaks in a rather formal and elegant style. The novel takes place over more than sixty years, following the journey of Georgy, a young peasant from his wood-framed hut in the farmlands of Russia to the Winter Palace of Tsar Nicholas II, where he becomes a bodyguard-companion to the Tsarevich Alexei and onwards to Paris and London between 1920 and 1980, as Georgy and his wife Zoya leave behind the dramatic events of the Russian Revolution but are never fully able forget them.I’d never written a love story before and at its heart, that’s what this novel is. Georgy and Zoya are a couple who have been through many traumas together but their affection and loyalty to each other marks their relationship and maintains the strength at its core."
Shortlisted for the Galaxy Paperback of the Year Award 2011. June 2010 Good Housekeeping selection. Sarah Blake’s second book after the critically acclaimed Grange House has already been a hit in the US. Set during World War II, it tells the story of postmistress Iris and Emma, a newlywed doctor’s wife, in small-town America. Both are avid listeners of radio journalist Frankie, reporting from Blitz-torn London, and the three women become inexorably linked in a moving tale that will stay with you long after the final page.
The diary of Flora Bonnington, London 1899-1900: 'A day slips away like sand in a sand glass and so we are caught up in this inevitable passage towards 1900. I bought a journal... it will record my journey into the new century. I shall call it 'Twentieth Century Girl' for that is what I intend to be'.
In this story of female friendship and fortitude, Tracy Chevalier shows her skill for working history’s lost individuals into far-reaching fiction. Set in 19th century Lyme Regis, it centres on the bond between Mary Anning, a penniless girl who hunts fossils to make a living, and spinster Elizabeth Philpot. As Mary’s finds begin to attract the big boys of science – and a dashing chancer – her friendship with Elizabeth is compromised.
This is her first new one since the Richard and Judy chosen book, The Rose of Sebastopol. Although there have been several published over here since, they have all been titles written sometime ago, so this has her back on top form. It is a strong plot-driven story of a young woman coming to terms with the loss of an adored brother, James, in World War I and fighting a male dominated world to be accepted as a lawyer. She lives in a household of female family members and into it comes another young woman with a male child … James’ son. It is a good story, well written. Comparison: Sarah Waters, Andrea Levy, Georgina Harding.
April 2010 Debut of the Month. A rich historical novel, full of mystery, secrets and hidden identities which involve family inheritance, murder and some intriguing characters. It romps along at a good pace, gaining speed and complexity as it goes. Atmospheric and the most enormous fun, it is not the literary masterpiece the publishers would like us to believe, but a thoroughly good read. Comparison: Jed Rubenfeld, Mikkel Birkegaard, Robert Goddard.
A hard-to-put-down, excellent read of slavery, harrowing but full of love and hope. The characters are very real and the writing is gripping. Based on fact, the actual document of ‘The Book of Negroes’, which is a list of all those who were taken by the British from America to Canada. This is the story of one such, Aminata, an intelligent, brave woman of immense strength and determination who follows her dream, whatever happens, to return to Africa. It won the 2008 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. It is an epic, sweeping, magnificent tale, not to be missed. Comparison: Andrea Levy, Toni Morrison, Khaled Hosseini.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 29 April 2010. The final part of Roddy Doyle's trilogy see's Henry Smart return to the Ireland he left 20 years before and once again getting caught up in the Republican movement. A great end to Henry's story and a sad goodbye to this trio of books.
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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