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.
London, 1785. When the body of a West Indies planter is found pegged out in the grounds of St Paul's, suspicion falls on one of the victim's former slaves, who was found with his watch on the London streets. As Harriet and Crowther begin investigate, however, they find the answer is not that simple. Together, they negotiate the interests of the British government, the secrets of the plantation owners, and a network of alliances stretching across the Atlantic. And they must confront the uncomfortable truth that some people are willing to do great evil when they believe their cause to be just.
Spring, 1947. In a few months' time the British flag will be lowered all over India, and with Independence thousands of those who made their lives there - as planters, civil servants, or in the Indian army - will be returning to England. Among those coming home, as everyone speaks of it, are Will and Flo Sutherland, who fell in love at the end of the war. India has been the defining experience of their lives: how will they make a new life now? Sue Gee's new novel is filled with pathos and humour, beautifully evoking a all-but vanished world.
June 2014 Book of the Month. The sequel to My Dear, I Wanted To Tell You which was set during World War I. This is 1919 and Riley has returned from the front with part of his face missing. This damage is obvious but his close friend Peter comes home with shell-shock, a damage not easily seen and certainly not understood in that period. Peter battles dreadfully with his depression. Both men have the love of good women, families and friends but adapting to the world after such a horrific time was challenging for all. This is a tough subject beautifully handled.
June 2014 Debut of the Month. A big sweeping saga of plantation life in Malaya in the 1950s, of isolation, infidelity, deceit and manipulation. Then came the Civil War and families were torn apart. The one we follow has so much mistrust and sadness at its heart that even back in England life remains full of pain. The author spent her formative years in Malaya and the colour and richness of that life shines through in this, her first novel.
June 2014 Debut of the Month. Moving, convincing and superbly written, The Cartographer of No Man’s Land is a novel you feel privileged to have read. From the stormy turbulent ocean off of Nova Scotia, to the tormented seas of mud that make up No Man’s Land in 1917; the story sucks you in and swallows you whole as you sink into its rich fertile depths. Strong, steadfast Angus and his son Simon Peter battle to keep their connection, their love alive while divided by the sea they live for. You find that you need the two places, the two stories; home becomes an anchor in the storm of war. The author has a deft touch, she is able to describe both the full horror of battle and simultaneously the beauty that an artists eye can capture and create. Written with care, love and attention to detail, this novel will bring a breath of understanding, a surge of respect and the promise of knowledge that you will remember…you won’t forget. ~ Liz Robinson A 'Piece of Passion' from the author... 'The initial inspiration for this story was an image that came to me of a boy racing over the rocks to his father, drifting offshore, just beyond his reach. I knew it was in Nova Scotia, a place that holds a piece of my heart. That scene, which I didn’t put in the book, led me to imagine a broken relationship between a father and a son who adored him. A few months later, the prologue came to me and I just wrote it down as fast as I could. Some readers have commented that it is meant to be an idyllic prelude to the upheaval of the war. But I wrote it long before I knew the book would be set during the war. The prologue captures a moment out of time, the kind of moment that you carry with you all your life; and for me, it carried the entire book within it. Then came the effort to understand the fractured father-son relationship, which I knew was somehow related to the father’s war experience. Once I began tunneling down from secondary to primary sources on the war, I was caught up in it myself and everything changed. I began to see my characters there, and new ones appeared and the backstory became the actual story, guided always by the prologue—a father and son in a rowboat in a moment out of time. The story is seen through the eyes of Angus MacGrath on the Western Front and his 13-year-old son, Simon Peter, back home in their coastal village in Nova Scotia. It is 1916, and Angus, a frustrated artist and skilled navigator and sailor, finds himself lost and without clear purpose. When his best friend and wife’s brother, Ebbin Hant, goes missing at the Front, Angus defies his pacifist-leaning father and enlists. Hoping to find information about Ebbin and assured a position as a military cartographer in London, Angus is instead sent to the front lines with the infantry. There he begins a journey with profound consequences for himself and those he loves. At home Simon Peter is coming of age without his father and learning that the world can shift at a moment’s notice. It is a story about holding steady in the face of the unknown, the delicate balance between truth and lies, and the grace of connection to one’s self and others. The Cartographer of No Man’s Land is a book to take your time with, and one that many people say they want to read again the minute they have finished.' - P.S. Duffy, author of The Cartographer of No Man’s Land
A poignant and moving story, that allows you to travel back in time to the Second World War, to experience rationing, air raids and evacuation alongside the characters. The author installs her engaging cast, from different walks of life, from town, from the country, differing in age range and moral fibre, then she really tests their mettle. In a time when life was lived for the moment, when you had to learn to make do and to reinvent, family and friends are key. Observe as the shadow of war slides over the land then without mercy tightens its grip. Wonder as love steals up unannounced, flounders, grows, deepens. Bear witness as kindness and cruelty, devotion and bitterness, friendship and greed all battle it out on the Home Front. ~ Liz Robinson
One of our Books of the Year 2014. A compelling, heartrending tale of love, loss and survival intertwined within the factual base of the Armenian genocide. This thought provoking story is set in a period of atrocities that may not be known to many, yet the author has the ability not only to transport you through time, her vivid descriptions engage all of your senses, shaping the land and people around you. You witness the very best and the very worst of people; while throughout a fledgling love fights to exist, to grow, to survive. The Author’s Notes give insight into some of the actual individuals involved, their stories are equally humbling and inspiring. This is a novel for your book shelves, to read again and mull over, to question - can love really conquer all? ~ Liz Robinson May 2014 Debut of the Month. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'Transporting her reader to Turkey in 1917, the opening of Martine Madden’s debut epic novel Anyush captures that moment when a young woman has doors opening to her; the world is spreading at her feet, despite the shadows of war.We, the readers, see the portents gathering, but Anyush, the central character, is young and feisty; she has met Jahan, a Turkish officer and their passion is fresh, exciting and forbidden. And Anyush has her dreams, dreams to take her beyond the boundaries of Turkish village life.The author lets us share in Anyush’s dreams and we are lulled and charmed by a vibrant, colourful wedding scene, where the beautiful Anyush is surrounded by friends, family and admirers; she is swept away in the dancing and the music as her friend starts her married life. But before the wedding ends, the war makes itself known and the dark is rising.The novel takes a deeply disturbing turn as we find ourselves caught up in the realities of the Armenian genocide which formed part of WWI. Not only is Anyush in denial but so, too, are many others who fail to grasp the evil which is unfolding. By the time events and the destiny of the Armenian villagers are clear, Anyush is in danger of losing everything and everyone she cares about.Anyush is a heartwrenching odyssey, told in a deceptively simple style, illuminating a shadowy period of WWI history – it is a story of great human suffering which will stay with the reader long after the book has been closed for the very last time.' - Susan Houlden, editor of Anyush
A home burned When past crimes resurface, Sir Alan Dale, loyal lieutenant of the Earl of Locksley - better known as the murderous thief Robin Hood - faces terrible vengeance at the hands of those that he and his master have wronged. A family threatened With his beloved wife on her deathbed, Sir Alan must seek salvation by following Robin into the lair of their enemy, the mysterious leader of a band of renegade Templars, on the trail of the most precious object in the world: the Holy Grail. Only a miracle can save them As vengeful Templars hound Robin and his men across England and France, deals done with mighty lords turn to bloody battle. The companions must find the Cup of Christ before they face certain destruction. Myth, mayhem and masterly storytelling meet in the astounding new epic from the bestselling author of Outlaw and Holy Warrior
A relationship tale with a difference; original, clever and set during the Cold War. The story spans a fascinating period in USA history, when the country was rocked by racial hatred, the Army-McCarthy hearings, the assassinations of JFK and Dr Martin Luthur King Jr… This is also a relationship tale of secrets, lies and moral ambiguity, where life sticks its oar in and packs a mighty wallop. The main characters, writers and civic/political commentators are fascinating and feel so very real. The heady joy of love and political idealism is offset by tones of cynicism, of guilt ridden remorse and remonstration. When your world is turned on its head, when the world you've known becomes a stranger, how do you respond, endure, carry on? ~ Liz Robinson
Another Macro and Cato adventure during the reign of the newly appointed Roman Emperor Claudius. Having upset some of the palace advisers as they helped Claudius and his son Nero to power, the two get themselves posted to Britain which they hope is far enough away to avoid their enemies in Rose. Cato is to take over the command of a post whose ruthless temporary commander Quertus regards as his personal domain under the leader of the British forces, Caracticus. So the troubles begin. Macro and Cato’s friendship forms the basis of this as they face their enemies both without and within. With good action and characterisation, this leaves you very much waiting for the next in the series. Click here to visit a website about the Cato and Macro series.
Louise Fletcher, a young dairy maid on an eighteenth-century Essex farm, has long been warned of the lure of the sea - after all, it stole away her father and brother. But when she is offered work as a maid in the naval port of Harwich, she leaps at the chance to see more of the world. Fifteen-year-old Luke has been press ganged and sent to sea on board the warship Essex. Aching for the girl he left behind, he must learn fast if he is to survive.
This is a dazzling tale of love, sumptuous splendour and conspiracy in the Italian Renaissance court of Ferrara, from the brilliant author of The Flower Reader. Barbara of Austria is plain, quick-witted and sensible. She also desperately needs a husband, for unmarried at twenty-six, she is about to be packed off to a convent, like her sisters before her. So it is that she seizes what seems to be her last chance - a proposal of marriage from Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, Lucrezia Borgia's grandson, clever, handsome, powerful - and widely believed to have murdered his first wife, Lucrezia de Medici. Barbara goes into her marriage clear-eyed, fascinated by her dangerous, enigmatic new husband - and increasingly - recklessly - driven to discover the truth about the death of his first duchess.
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: