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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.
On Candlemas eve an apprentice candle maker finds his master, John Blair dead in his workshop, and the evidence points to the surgeon Sam Sturrock. Enlisted by Sturrock's desperate apprentice, Hew Cullen, together with his friend and physician Giles Locke, finds himself drawn into the investigation to uncover the truth of the matter. At first it seems like Blair's death is the result of reckless surgical practice, but as Hew delves deeper into the life of the candle maker he discovers a web of extortion and deceit. John Blair was a man with many enemies . . .
An astonishing, stimulating, and quite quite wonderful novel based on the life of the indomitable Mazie Phillips who lived in New York through some of the most interesting times of the first part of the 20th century. With a fictional mix of diaries, recounting of family history and an unpublished autobiography, this has an almost documentary feel to it; it is quite matter of fact, which cleverly emphasises the emotion and feeling behind the written word. There is a stark rawness to this novel, it feels as though the author has seen a truth, felt a connection to Mazie and born witness to her audacious individuality. In this interesting, clever read, Attenberg takes a fictional peek at the woman behind the celebrity, in all her gutsy, passionate, courageous glory. ~ Liz Robinson
Shorlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2016. Longlisted for the HWA Goldsboro Debut Crown Award Longlist 2016. ‘Mrs Engels’ is a stimulating and rather glorious peek at the life of Lizzie Burns, who lived alongside and supported the two men who founded Marxism. Set between 1842 and 1878, Gavin McCrea has planted this story in fact, and then weaved a magical yet earthy tale. Lizzie Burns was a woman of practical strength and determination, she takes the reader into her confidence and tells her own story, and what an amazing tale it is! Gavin McCrea not only transported me back in time, he also had me hanging on to every single word that came out of Lizzie’s mouth. The language surprises on occasion, and may cause a raised eyebrow, it is so full of attitude and down to earth. The story flowed between Lizzie’s past and present, until it felt as though it was one moment in time. Lizzie Burns was a woman who would have been extraordinary today, the voice McCrea has created is startling, and this is a simply wonderful and entirely captivating debut. Chair of judges Iain Pears said: “McCrea has cleverly included just enough historical detail to set a very evocative scene, then lets his cast tell the story. The writing always surprises, his characters are compelling without having to be likeable and, as all of we judges noted, Mrs Engels is perhaps the most feminist novel we read for the Prize.”
A striking, eloquent and desperately beautiful novel, set during 1911 in a Yorkshire asylum. John, Ella and Charles find themselves at the edge of an impossible future, each decision they make, sets connecting wheels in motion. This is a fictional story, with fictional main characters, however it is firmly based in fact. On reading the Author’s Note at the end, I understood why the emotional connection the writing gave to these characters, was so intense. Anna Hope writes with a powerful pen, one moment whispering, flickering emotions dart across the page, in the next a ferocious roar almost overwhelms, and I savoured every word. I literally couldn't put ‘The Ballroom’ down, I felt the unimaginable fear and mayhem, suffered every moment of confusion, and willed love and friendship to flight. While a profound darkness shadows the story, I found myself with a heart full of aching hope. This is a captivating, penetrating and thought-provoking read that I highly recommend. ~ Liz Robinson Click here to view Wake by the same author. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'The Ballroom took my breath away when I first read it and still does now, when I revisit it. For the sheer power and musicality of its language; the striking relevance of its themes of love and madness and social mobility; the radiance of its personalities, all of them so indelibly drawn that they live and breathe in your mind. Anna really understands character, not only as agents for a riveting story, but also as spectres of the human condition. John, Ella, Charles – all of their narratives feel so immediately urgent as you turn the page, but they also have a greater resonance, something lasting and elemental. When reading The Ballroom, I feel the spark of Thomas Hardy, D H Lawrence, even Cyrano de Bergerac, and I know that I’m reading the early work of a truly iconic writer.' ~ Jane Lawson, Editor, Doubleday February 2016 Debut of the Month.
It seems the girl was trying to escape - but from the West. Muller is a member of the People's Police, but in East Germany her power only stretches so far. The Stasi want her to discover the identity of the girl, but assure her the case is otherwise closed - and strongly discourage her from asking questions. The evidence doesn't add up, and it soon becomes clear the crime scene has been staged. But this is not a regime that tolerates a curious mind, and Muller doesn't realise that the trail she's following will lead her dangerously close to home ...
1945. After disgracing themselves at a high society party, spoilt young Philadelphia socialites Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off from the family without a penny. Ellis decides their salvation will be to hunt down the Loch Ness Monster, a venture his father very publicly failed at. So, oblivious to WW2 raging around them, they make their way to the Scottish Highlands, where Maddie has to face reality and decide just who the real monsters are.
Elizabeth Fremantle has delivered another fabulously engrossing read, her ability to bring some of the most fascinating women from the 16th century to the forefront of historical fiction is truly impressive. History declares that Penelope Devereux was much more than just a pretty face, the period covered starts in 1581, when Penelope begins to understand how she can influence her life by using her intuition and intellect. Fremantle takes the foundation of historical information and builds a fictional tower of intrigue, wit and strength; most importantly of all she breathes vibrant life into the corridors of power. Even though it feels as though meticulous research has been carried out, this doesn't feel like a history lesson; instead find yourself transported into a story that is beguiling, absorbing and wonderfully readable. ~ Liz Robinson
When Mary Davidson, the eldest daughter of a whaling family in Eden, New South Wales, sets out to chronicle the particularly difficult season of 1908, the story she tells is poignant and hilarious, filled with drama and misadventure. It's a season marked not only by the sparsity of whales and the vagaries of weather, but also by the arrival of John Beck, an itinerant whaleman with a murky past, on whom Mary promptly develops an all-consuming crush. But hers is not the only romance to blossom amidst the blubber ...
I was strong and he was not so it was me went to war to defend the Republic. I stepped across the border out of Indiana into Ohio. Twenty dollars, two salt-pork sandwiches, and I took jerky, biscuits, six old apples, fresh underthings and a blanket too. There was a conflagration to come; I wanted to lend it my spark. Meet Gallant Ash: hero, folk legend and master of war. Ash is a leader of men and a brutal and fearless soldier. Will look you dead in the eye and kill for no reason. But Ash has a secret. Gallant Ash is a woman. This is her story.
An arresting historical novel where fact and fiction blend together until one fascinating story emerges. Set between 1068 and 1100, travelling between France and England, with an occasional foray into Scotland, this is a tale that looks beyond the known. Visiting the reign of William the Conqueror and focusing on the time surrounding his sons, we are introduced to a host of characters, however it is King William II and Ralph des Aix who take centre stage. Valerie Anand stamps the date and marks history throughout this novel, however I was completely sucked into the compelling story. We grow up with William and Ralph, watch as events unfold and shape the two men, as their lives intertwine, as they make mistakes, fall in love and affect the lives of those around them. Delving deeply into hidden mysteries, ’King of the Wood’ is a darkly satisfying and engaging tale.
Drawing on the Nazis' original plans for the Jews, Guy Saville has meticulously imagined a world-that-nearly-was to tell an epic tale of love, revenge and survival. 1953 and there has been no holocaust, rather all Jews have been exiled to Madagascar and ex-mercenary Burton Cole risks his life and the fate of the world to rescue the woman he loves. The Madagaskar Plan by Guy Saville is second in this exciting series of alternative histories that began with The Afrika Reich. Perfect for any fan of Robert Harris or Len Deighton. Click here to read an article by Guy Saville on the reasearch that went into the writing of The Madagaskar Plan.
February 2016 Book of the Month. A wonderfully tense and arresting Cold War relationship tale, stuffed full to the brim with suspense. Set in 1960, couple Lily and Simon become caught in an unbelievably powerful web of lies. Normal everyday life intermingles with the hidden, and secrets are set to be exposed as the story slips with subtlety along the edge of an uncertain path. Some of the characters are not necessarily likeable, others are positively loathsome, but they all feel so very real. Helen Dunmore handles the intrigue with a masterly hand, hints and suggestions slither and slide through the story, creating uneasiness and suspicion. It is the small but not insignificant things that really bring this tale to life, the descriptions and the feelings create a vibrant ring of truth. ‘Exposure’ is an evocative, thrilling tale that I recommend setting aside some quality time for, once I started reading, I simply didn't want to stop. ~ Liz Robinson
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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