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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.
Rosie Garland's extraordinary tale is a story of superstition and devotion in the time of the Black Death and will bewitch both new readers and fans of her much-loved debut, The Palace of Curiosities. Devon, 1349. In Brauntone, where seagulls screech across the fields and the wind has a mind to change, Father Thomas arrives as the new priest. Determined to impress his congregation, he quells fears of the coming pestilence with promises of protection. For Anne, the priest's arrival is an opportunity that at sixteen, she feels all too ready for. Convinced a grand fate awaits, she moves in as Thomas's housekeeper, though hopeful of something more. But his home is a place without love or kindness. So when a strange, mute Maid is discovered, washed up in the marshes, and taken in, Anne is grateful for the company. Their friendship is to give Anne the chance of a happiness she thought she'd never know. But soon the plague strikes Brauntone, spreading panic. And as the villagers' fear turns to anger, Thomas must sacrifice everything to restore their faith in him.
The third in the Belle series but you really do not need to have read the earlier two. This follows Mari from New Zealand to London on the brink of World War Two. She has loved before her journey, loves again on board ship and eventually, through the Blitz and much trauma, ends up in Lyme Regis. Here she is recruited by MI5 and off she goes again, now into France to escort wounded airmen and Jews back to England. Through much drama and incident we do get to the end of the war in a riveting read. Lesley Pearse really is very good.
the Emperor Nero's erratic and bloody reign is in its death throes when Gaius Valerius Verrens is dispatched to Rome on a mission that will bring it to a close. With Nero dead, the city holds its breath and awaits the arrival his successor, Servius Sulpicius Galba, governor of Hispania. The Empire prays for peace, but it prays in vain. Galba promises stability and prosperity, but his rule begins with a massacre and ends only months later in chaos and carnage. This will become known as the Year of the Four Emperors, a time of civil war which will tear Rome apart and test Valerius's skills and loyalties to their very limit. Fortunate to survive Galba's fall, Valerius is sent on a mission by Rome's new Emperor, Otho, to his old friend Vitellius, commander of the armies of the north. Vitellius's legions are on the march, and only Valerius can persuade him to halt them before the inevitable confrontation. In an epic adventure that will take him the length and breadth of a divided land, the one-armed Roman fights to stay alive and stave off a bloodbath as he is stalked by the most implacable enemy he has ever faced.
From the acclaimed, bestselling author of The French Executioner, this is an epic and thrilling tale of a serial killer who threatens London's rich and poor during the Great Plague of 1665. If you enjoy novels by CJ Sansom and SJ Parris, you will love PLAGUE. London, May 1665. On a dark road outside London, a simple robbery goes horribly wrong - when the gentlemanly highwayman, William Coke, discovers that his intended victims have been brutally slaughtered. Suspected of the murders, Coke is forced into an uneasy alliance with the man who pursues him - the relentless thief-taker, Pitman. Together they seek the killer - and uncover a conspiracy that reaches from the glittering, debauched court of King Charles to the worst slum in the city, St Giles in the Fields. But there's another murderer moving through the slums, the taverns and palaces, slipping under the doorways of the rich. A mass murderer. Plague.
Violet is half-American, half-Chinese, and in the turn of the century Shanghai, as the revolution looms, she is separated from her mother and becomes a courtesan. We follow both women through turbulent lives. Amy Tan is an expert at recreating the period, the tension, the colour, and the fear. It’s a wonderful insight into the world of the courtesan, a long, absorbing book of love and survival.
Editor's Comments: Since its publication in 1993 Birdsong has established itself as one of the most important novels of recent years. A novel that brings alive the horrors of war and the redemptive power of love there are few books that have moved people as much as Birdsong or that continue to have such resonance years after publication.Voted one of the fifteen Vintage Future Classics (one of the books that readers across the country thought that we will still be reading in 100 years time) Birdsong is at times moving, emotional, horrifying and enchanting but above all else it is a truly wonderful read.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Alongside Ken Bruen and Stuart Neville, McKinty sits atop the Irish contemporary crime writing scene, so this comes as a pleasant surprise: a quirky historical mystery, based on a true life case, set in 1906 on a remote South Pacific island. Will Prior, previously a military foot policeman in the Boer War, is there in self-imposed exile when a German local government representative asks for his assistance to investigate a case on a nearby island populated by a group of European back to nature eccentrics one of whom has died in mysterious circumstances. Prior and a 'lady traveller' foisted on him, reluctantly travel there. Resolutely old-fashioned storytelling with an edge that will delight no end.
July 2014 eBook of the Month. What can I say about this fabulous book? That it is classic Erskine time-slip drama of passion and incident; that it covers the war years and today and that it is big and glorious in every sense. I see that her father was a spitfire pilot and she has obviously used his memory in her research. That adds a nice personal touch. The story is of a young author researching a war artist and portraitist so we get her story and that of the said artist, integrated into each other. A lovely, lovely book to get totally lost in.
Detective Inspector Jim Stringer was first introduced to us in 2002 in The Necropolis Railway. This is now his ninth adventure and as you can see, we are in India. So there is murder to contend with, and snakes, conflict between racial divides and the start of the struggle for independence … it is 1923. The author is particularly good at historic detail making this series of detective stories highly absorbing. We get more family background here but you do not need to have followed the series chronologically to fully appreciate them, just read them and love them.
A classically arresting mystery, overflowing with good old fashioned pluck, courage and perseverance. The third in the Mirabelle Bevan mysteries, this can also be read as a vintage standalone novel. In a bygone era, Mirabelle and her feisty cohort Vesta often outpace their male companions and are far ahead of their time. This is such an authentic read, Brighton in the early 50’s is as much a character in the book as the investigators themselves. The author acknowledges how frustrating research and inquiries can be with the last piece of the jigsaw often remaining just out of sight. With some formidable detective work as well as some particularly perilous moments, this is a first rate read. ~ Liz Robinson A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... Post-WWII England was a fascinating time. Buttoned-up, seedy, glamorous, rationed ... Sara Sheridan nails the era, and who wouldn't root for her cool and enterprising heroine, Mirabelle Bevan, and sidekick Vesta Churchill as they battle corrupt masons and solve a murder or three.' - Alison Rae, Managing Editor, Polygon
Terrific . (Daily Mail). Tremendous . (Guardian). Page-turning . (The Times). Gripping . (Daily Telegraph). Autumn 1939. In an alternative world, where Edward VIII still sits on the throne, storm clouds gather over Europe, German troops amass and a 'King's Party' of fascist peace campaigners is stealthily undermining the war effort. For Cynthia Kirkpatrick, the war brings a new-found freedom - lunchtime drinks at the Ritz, rented attic rooms, late-night rackety parties and intriguing new acquaintances. But two new friends loom larger than others, her glamorous colleague Anthea and Tyler, an enigmatic American working at the Embassy. Initially Cynthia is dazzled by them both but soon discovers they have secrets which could prove dangerous, both to her and the country at large.
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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