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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.
November 2009 Book of the Month. A mixture of love story and crime novel set against a beautifully evoked African backdrop. Mackenzie Ford is a talent to watch and this novel will keep you gripped from beginning to end.
1920’s London and Grace is a society girl who also writes a weekly gossip newspaper column which each chapter charmingly starts with. This is sister rivalry/husband seeking stuff with lots of period detail and nicely written. It is something to comfortably curl up with. Comparison: Emma Rice, Isabel Wolf (A Vintage Affair).
This is an unabridged audiobook title. Winner of the inaugural Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction 2010. Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2009. The subject of Henry VIII will always provide a rich source of historical, political and scandalous fodder and here Hilary Mantel concentrates on one of the most interesting times in his reign – the divorce of Catherine of Aragon and his split from the Church of Rome. Mantel breathes life in to every character and even if you feel you have heard this story a million times she brings an original and tantalising voice to the period. This is an Unabridged audiobook title, which includes every word that you would otherwise find in the printed edition. Don’t forget, if the story was meant to be shorter the author would have written less! Click here to take a peek at our selection of Unabridged audiobooks. You might be interested to know the abridged audiobook version runs to only 29% of the full length.
Shortlisted for the RNA People’s Choice Award 2010. As a new millennium dawns, only 100-year-old Selma Bartley knows the secret behind a Yorkshire village’s refusal to honour its war dead. A mesmerising tale from Avon, about how a landmark moment in history affected the lives of so many.
Another historical melodrama from this huge selling author. Set just before the First World War we have a hero fighting for good and falling in love with the wrong woman. Splendid stuff. A message from Joanna Lumley: “Anything that makes reading easier is to be applauded – a bright light, a quiet room, large clear print…what could be more enticing. Focus has all my support." Joanna Lumley
Shortlisted for the RNA Historical Novel of the Year 2011. In 1840’s Cornwall, 25-year-old Sarah Govier supports herself and her illegitimate son, Jory, on the income from Talvan, the granite quarry she inherited from her father. But businessman Kinser Landry has good reason for wanting Talvan and will stop at nothing to get it. Her problems mounting, Sarah turns in desperation to James Crago, a gunpowder manufacturer who owns land adjoining hers. After twenty years as soldier and diplomat in India, Crago, 37, returned home, his face horrifically scarred, a wound sustained during his attempt to help the girl he loved escape a despotic raja. Local reaction to his appearance has turned him into a recluse.
November 2011 Guest Editor Victoria Hislop selects Fatherland... Fatherland by Robert Harris is an amazing novel. In fact all his novels are great, but this just happens to be my favourite. Robert Harris always does extensive and exhaustive research into the history/ideas behind his novels but he then deftly puts it to one side and crafts his story. He does something that I greatly aspire to: he wears his research lightly so that we learn a lot while reading his books, but we are not being hit over the head with his knowledge though we know it is there. I admire him hugely and would like to achieve the same effect. The Lovereading view... It is April 1964 and one week before Hitler's 75th birthday. Xavier March, a detective of the Kriminalpolizei, is called out to investigate the discovery of a dead body in a lake near Berlin's most prestigious suburb. As March discovers the identity of the body, he uncovers signs of a conspiracy that could go to the very top of the German Reich.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 5 November 2009. This is quite different from Mosse’s previous books Labyrinth and Sepulchre. It started out as a short story for the 2009 Quick Reads but the author felt she wanted to expand it and the result is a beautiful and haunting book, a story sensitively and movingly told.
September 2009 Debut of the Month. Fifteenth century Venice and a street urchin is ‘rescued’ by the Doge’s master chef and taken on as his apprentice. The court life and culinary snippets add depth to the mystery surrounding an ancient book and its dark secrets. The whereabouts of the book becomes the talk of Italy and the obsession of the Doge, and naturally our young apprentice becomes intrigued. There are secrets within secrets here, mounting in a suspenseful read with an unexpected twist or two. Good fun. Comparison: Robert Goddard, Joanne Harris, Kate Mosse.
Martha Carrier was hanged on August 19th, 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, unyielding in her refusal to admit to being a witch, going to her death rather than joining the ranks of men and women who confessed and were thereby spared execution. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and wilful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. In this startling novel, she narrates the story of her early life in Andover, near Salem. Her father is a farmer, English in origin, quietly stoical but with a secret history. Her mother is a herbalist, tough but loving, and above all a good mother. Often at odds with each other, Sarah and her mother have a close but also cold relationship, yet it is clear that Martha understands her daughter like no other. When Martha is accused of witchcraft, and the whisperings in the community escalate, she makes her daughter promise not to stand up for her if the case is taken to court. As Sarah and her brothers are hauled into the prison themselves, the vicious cruelty of the trials is apparent, as the Carrier family, along with other innocents, are starved and deprived of any decency, battling their way through the hysteria with the sheer willpower their mother has taught them.
August 2014 Guest Editor Gerald Seymour on Most Secret... The stories of Nevil Shute have a timeless appeal. He was a complete story teller, knew how to put together a beginning, a middle, and an end. The reader is transported by the personalities he introduces us to, and we live with them and care about them. The one most often in my mind is ‘Most Secret’ which tells of a small group of fighting men who convert a trawler into a mini-warship and sail across the Channel to take on naval forces of the German occupation. I usually end up with an unashamed wet eye when I return to the last few pages of this epic. He’s brilliant.
August 2009 Debut of the Month. From the opening pages you know that this is going to be a magical book. Beautifully written and intricately blending the story of a marriage with Chinese history and folklore makes this a debut not to be missed. Meekings is a published poet and this comes through in his lyrical prose. This is a really lovely book and fascinating for those with an interest in the East.
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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A selection of authors who will feature in this Lovereading category include: