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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.
This begins a World War I spy series where, as a luxury car salesman, Jack McColl has perfect cover for travelling the world and so is ideally placed for spying in China, India, Ireland and no doubt plenty of other places as the series develops. The start is a bit slow. Jack has a relationship with a girl with Irish connections which was supposed to be a passing fling but develops and is in danger of threatening his double life. As I’ve said, a slow start but start you should for Downing is a fine author who will no doubt deliver some great books about Jack McColl for he has already written magnificent World War II spy books, The Station series, starring John Russell. This is the first in a new series from this accomplished writer, perfect for fans of Wilbur Smith or Frederick Forsyth.
The British Army is withdrawing from Philadelphia, with George Washington in pursuit, and for the first time, it looks as if the rebels might actually win. But for Claire Fraser and her family, there are even more tumultuous revolutions that have to be accommodated. Her former husband, Jamie, has returned from the dead, demanding to know why in his absence she married his best friend, Lord John Grey. Lord John's son, the ninth Earl of Ellesmere, is no less shocked to discover that his real father is actually the newly resurrected Jamie Fraser, and Jamie's nephew Ian Murray discovers that his new-found cousin has an eye for the woman who has just agreed to marry him. And while Claire is terrified that one of her husbands may be about to murder the other, in the 20th century her descendants face even more desperate turns of events. Her daughter Brianna is trying to protect her son from a vicious criminal with murder on his mind, while her husband Roger has disappeared into the past...
A fast-paced and fascinating tale which draws the reader into the pre-war spying world. In the months leading up to the declaration of war, four unlikely new agents, three men and one highly intelligent young woman, are recruited by British Intelligence. We follow their meanderings across Europe as each meets up with Knox, their military liaison officer. Their mission is to flush out and identify a counter spy referred to as ‘The Spider’. They are pursued by our arch villain, Hildebrandt, who has an uncanny knack of involving himself in hunting down each of our spies. All four are eventually drawn to Vienna and an exciting and unexpected denouement. Initially you are introduced to a plethora of characters, a bit confusing, but that's spying for you. This is an excellent read.
This title comes from the author of Midnight in St Petersburg, a novel of love, art, music and family secrets set amongst the Russian emigre community of Paris in 1937. Evie, a rebellious young American leaves New York in search of art and adventure in jazz-age Paris, where her grandmother lives. But on arrival, her grandmother's sudden death leaves Evie compelled to carry out her dying wish: to find a man from her past called Zhenya. The quest leads Evie deep into the heart of the Russian emigre community of Paris. With the world on the brink of war, she becomes embroiled in murder plots, conspiracies and illicit love affairs as White faces Red Russian and nothing is as it seems. With Jean, a liberal Russian writer by her side, Evie finally seems to have found the passion and excitement she's yearned for. But is she any nearer to discovering the identity of the mysterious Zhenya, or the heartbreak of her grandmother's past?
At the age of thirty-five, Fanny van de Grift Osbourne has left her philandering husband in San Francisco to set sail for Belgium to study art, with her three children and nanny in tow. Not long after her arrival, however, tragedy strikes, and Fanny and her brood repair to a quiet artists' colony in France where she can recuperate. There she meets Robert Louis Stevenson, ten years her junior, who is instantly smitten with the earthy, independent, and opinionated belle Americaine. A woman ahead of her time, Fanny does not immediately take to the young lawyer who longs to devote his life to literature rather than the law - and who would eventually write such classics as Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In time, though, she succumbs to Stevenson's charms, and the two begin a fierce love affair-marked by intense joy and harrowing darkness that spans decades as they travel the world for the sake of his health following their art and dreams eventually settling in Samoa where Robert Louis Stevenson is buried, with these words on his grave: Under the wide and starry sky, Dig the grave and let me lie. Glad did I live and gladly die, And I laid me down with a will. This be the verse you grave for me: Here he lies where he longed to be; Home is the sailor, home from sea, And the hunter home from the hill. (Requiem, Robert Louis Stevenson)
The queen of the epic story has come up trumps with this powerful historical novel about two sets of twins; four sisters - all attractive, headstrong, clever yet vulnerable – all training as nurses in Australia during the 1920s. Colleen McCullough has lost none of the writing strength shown in The Thorn Birds, with her deft observations, complexity of plot, quick-witted dialogue and smart characterisation, all wrapped up in her trademark humour. A wry meditation on love and its consequences.
Before Inferno came The Dante Club. The captivating thriller from the writer whose fans include Dan Brown, Jed Rubenfeld, Kate Mosse and Tess Gerritsen Boston, 1865. A small group of elite scholars prepare to introduce Dante's vision of hell to America. Meanwhile a ruthless killer plots in secret to do the same. When a series of murders erupts through Boston and Cambridge, only this small group are able to decipher the clues - they soon realise the gruesome killings are symbols modeled on the descriptions of Hell's punishments from Dante's Inferno. With the police baffled, lives endangered and Dante's literary future at stake, the Dante Club must shed its sheltered literary existence and find a way to stop the killer. An immensely gifted author . (Dan Brown, bestselling author of Inferno and The Da Vinci Code).
Nan's mother loves to tell her daughter stories, though the details vary according to how much she has drunk. The tale she tells most often claims that Admiral Lord Nelson is Nan's father: he was her lover and she saw him die at Trafalgar. Or so she claims. From poor beginnings, resourceful Nan makes her own determined way through life, but always haunted by the wish to know the truth about her father. From Portsmouth in the early 1800s to the battlefields of the Crimea, Nan discovers the world is full of people with a story about Nelson. There are some questions we can never hope to answer...
Peter Wimsey is pleased to discover that along with a Dukedom he has inherited the duties of 'visitor' at an Oxford college.When the fellows appeal to him to resolve a dispute, he and Harriet set off happily to spend some time in Oxford. But the dispute turns out to be embittered. The voting is evenly balanced between two passionate parties - evenly balanced, that is, until several of the fellows unexpectedly die.The Warden has a casting vote, but the Warden has disappeared. And the causes of death of the deceased fellows bear an uncanny resemblance to the murder methods in Peter's past cases - methods that Harriet has used in her published novels .
Alix Gower has a dream: to join the ranks of Coco Chanel to become a designer in the high-stakes world of Parisian haute couture. But Alix also has a secret: she supports her family by stealing designs to create bootlegs for the foreign market. A hidden sketchbook and two minutes inside Hermes is all she needs to create a perfect replica, to be whisked off to production in New York. Then Alix is given her big break - a chance to finally realize her dream in one of the most prominent Parisian fashion houses - but at the price of copying the breakthrough Spring Collection. Knowing this could be her only opportunity, Alix accepts the arrangement. But when a mystery from her past resurfaces and a chance meeting has her falling into the arms of a handsome English war reporter, Alix learns that the slightest misstep - or misplaced trust - could be all it takes for her life to begin falling apart at the seams.
Emme Fifield has fallen about as far as a gentlewoman can. Once a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, her only hope of surviving the scandal that threatens to engulf her is to escape England for a fresh start in the New World, where nobody has ever heard of the Duchess of Somerset. Emme joins Kit Doonan's rag-tag band of idealists, desperados and misfits bound for Virginia. But such a trip will be far from easy and Emme finds her attraction to the mysterious Doonan inconvenient to say the least...
In the summer of 1358 Matthew Bartholomew finds himself one of a party of Bishop's Commissioners, sent north to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the Abbot of Peterborough. He and his colleagues quickly learn that behind the beautiful facade of the Benedictine monastery there is a vicious struggle for power, and that not everyone would be happy to see the prelate's safe return. This unrest and discontent seems to have spread throughout the town, and there are bitter rivalries between competing shrines and the financial benefits of the relics they hold. One of these shrines is dedicated to Lawrence de Oxforde, a robber and murderer who was executed for his crimes, but who has been venerated ever since miracles started occurring at his grave. But when Bartholomew and his friend Brother Michael go to investigate, they find murder instead...
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: