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.
September 2012 Book of the Month. I fell in love with this book when it was first published in 1997. It did moderately well but not as well as it should. I think one of the problems was that up until then James Long had written adventure spy stories, he was formerly BBC correspondent and certainly knew his stuff – but then he produced this enthralling, tangled love story. As so often happens when author’s change direction, his publishers (Penguin) were not keen, so he went to HarperCollins and, if it were today, it would have been published under a pseudonym, as his other historical novels are (Will Davenport) – but that did not happen and the book rather fell between two stools. But for those who read it, Ferney held a special magic, it haunts your memory and even fifteen years later still pulls at the heart strings. Now James has written the sequel, The Lives She Left Behind, and to refresh fans memories and entice new ones, Ferney is republished. It is such a wonderful, uplifting and unusual story of a couple settling in Somerset. As they renovate their house they discover its history, meet a previous inhabitant and unlock its secrets. Mysterious, exciting, immensely rewarding, it is one of those memorable books that has to be among your of all-time favourites. Please read it. Scroll down to check out what some of our readers thought about Ferney, ahead of reading the sequel The Lives She Left Behind which is published on 27 September 2012.
David Morris lives the quiet life of a book-valuer for a London auction house, travelling every day by omnibus to his office in the Strand. When he is asked to make a trip to rural Somerset to value the library of the recently deceased Lord Buff-Orpington, the sense of trepidation he feels as he heads into the country is confirmed the moment he reaches his destination, the dark and impoverished village of Ashbrittle. These feelings turn to dread when he meets the enigmatic Professor Richard Hunt and catches a glimpse of a screaming woman he keeps prisoner in his house.
1450s France. A young Englishman, Tom Swan, is kneeling in the dirt, waiting to be killed by the French who've taken him captive. He's not a professional soldier. He's really a merchant and a scholar looking for remnants of Ancient Greece and Rome - temples, graves, pottery, fabulous animals, unicorn horns. But he also has a real talent for ending up in the midst of violence when he didn't mean to... There are three books in this mini series starting with Castillion, then Venice and finally Constantinople. Click here to read an extract from this title. Click here to read an article by Christian Cameron on why he wrote Tom Swan.
Peopled by an unforgettable cast of aristocrats and high-fliers, Tender is the Night is at once a scathing critique of the materialism and hypocrisy of the Roaring Twenties and a poignant and sensitive account of personal tragedy and disillusionment. Baz Luhrmann's film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, opened the 66th Cannes Film Festival. A 'Piece of Passion' from Alessandro Gallenzi on the Alma Classics editions...'F. Scott Fitzgerald has been long a favourite of mine. Since I discovered The Great Gatsby at university, I have been avidly reading all of his work. I am particularly fond of some of his short stories, from ‘The Rich Boy’ (in All the Sad Young Men) to ‘The Diamond as Big as the Ritz’ and ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ (in Tales of the Jazz Age). I have poured all my passion and love for Fitzgerald’s work into these stylish editions, with front-cover illustrations by Art-Deco genius Georges Barbier, flaps, pictures and a wealth of extra material. These books are a publisher’s and a fan’s tribute to one of the greatest masters of world literature.'
Containing obvious parallels with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's own lives, The Beautiful and Damned is a tragic examination of the pitfalls of greed and materialism and the transience of youth and beauty. Baz Luhrmann's film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, opened the 66th Cannes Film Festival. A 'Piece of Passion' from Alessandro Gallenzi on the Alma Classics editions...'F. Scott Fitzgerald has been long a favourite of mine. Since I discovered The Great Gatsby at university, I have been avidly reading all of his work. I am particularly fond of some of his short stories, from ‘The Rich Boy’ (in All the Sad Young Men) to ‘The Diamond as Big as the Ritz’ and ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ (in Tales of the Jazz Age). I have poured all my passion and love for Fitzgerald’s work into these stylish editions, with front-cover illustrations by Art-Deco genius Georges Barbier, flaps, pictures and a wealth of extra material. These books are a publisher’s and a fan’s tribute to one of the greatest masters of world literature.'
Shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2013. Pat Barker, Booker prize-winning author of the Regeneration trilogy returns to WWI in this dark, compelling novel of human desire, wartime horror and the power of friendship. Toby and Elinor, brother and sister, friends and confidants, are sharers of a dark secret, carried from the summer of 1912 into the battlefields of France and wartime London in 1917. When Toby is reported 'Missing, Believed Killed', another secret casts a lengthening shadow over Elinor's world: how exactly did Toby die - and why? Elinor's fellow student Kit Neville was there in the fox-hole when Toby met his fate, but has secrets of his own to keep. Enlisting the help of former lover Paul Tarrant, Elinor determines to uncover the truth. Only then can she finally close the door to Toby's room. Moving from the Slade School of Art to Queen Mary's Hospital, where surgery and art intersect in the rebuilding of the shattered faces of the wounded, Toby's Room is a riveting drama of identity, damage, intimacy and loss from the author of The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road . It is Pat Barker's most powerful novel yet. Praise for Pat Barker: A brilliant stylist...Barker delves unflinchingly into the enduring mysteries of human motivation . ( Sunday Telegraph ). Barker is a writer of crispness and clarity and an unflinching seeker of the germ of what it means to be human . ( The Herald ). Barker is brilliant on the conflicts between art, love and war . ( Marie Claire ). Barker writes ...with great tenderness and insight, and a daring to forgo simple resolutions . ( Independent on Sunday ). Pat Barker was born in 1943. Her books include the highly acclaimed Regeneration trilogy, comprising Regeneration , which was made into a film of the same name, The Eye in the Door , which won the Guardian Fiction Prize, and The Ghost Road , which won the Booker Prize. She is also the author of the more recent novels Another World , Border Crossing , Double Vision and, Life Class . She lives in Durham.
August 2012 Book of the Month. One of our Great Reads You May Have Missed in 2012. We loved her debut Heresy, with the ex-monk turned secret agent Giordano Bruno and the follow up historical mystery, Sacrilege, is just as gripping. Assassinations, threats of plague and dark secrets hidden in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral prove a formidable challenge for renaissance man Bruno, who is also battling with demons of his own. If you enjoy authors like C J Sansom then we think you will find it hard to resist.
August 2012 Book of the Month. 4th instalment of the fascinating Cousins’ War series again, cleverly blending fact and fiction together to bring to life the riveting story of Anne Neville, youngest daughter of the ruthless Earl of Warwick, the most powerful magnate in 15th century England. These stories of little known but significant women of the time give a fresh perspective and if you love Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction you should not miss her fascinating non-fiction companion volume - The Women of the Cousins' War - that tells the extraordinary true stories behind the heroines of her books. The Cousins' War series:1. The White Queen2. The Red Queen3. The Lady of the Rivers4. The Kingmaker's Daughter
Babe, Grace and Millie have been best friends since their first day at kindergarten. Now they are newly married, and the men have gone to war. They thrive on letters from their absent sweethearts, and on the closeness they've always shared. And then, on a single morning in 1944, no fewer than sixteen telegrams arrive, bringing news of the worst kind from the War Department. For Babe, Grace and Millie, life will never be the same again. Each must face the challenges of the years ahead, the changes taking place in America and far closer to home, which are enough to test even the deepest of friendships and most hopeful of hearts ...
This evocative, sweeping story of love, loss and family secrets is steeped in the atmosphere of India and full of vivid and fascinating detail. Inspired by the author’s family history, it is a tale of the end of colonial India and two girls born to an unmarried Indian mother and a British father, which in 1925 was a scandal. We think it’s perfect for reading groups.
New Year's Day, St. Petersburg, 1917. Divers pull the body of Rasputin, the Mad Monk, from the icy waters of the Neva River. Within hours, his daughters are taken to the Royal Palace, where the Tsarina makes a shocking request: would Masha, 18, take on her father's role as healer to the Tsarevitch Alyosha? Two months later, revolution has toppled the Tsar, and the entire family is placed under house-arrest. Trapped together in harsh conditions, Masha and Alyosha find solace in one another's company. Two teenagers, with radically different experiences of the Romanov's ill-fated reign, create a private realm of magic and love, as Masha introduces Alyosha to the wild and beautiful land he will never rule.
The third novel in the series sees new challenges for the men of the 106th Foot, as the British army attempts to recover from the disaster of Corunna and establish a foothold in the Peninsula. Featuring the battles of Medellin and Talavera, the 106th will have their mettle severely tested on the battlefield. But if Napoleon is to be ejected from Spain, war must also be waged in more covert ways. For Hanley, the former artist who is a more natural observer than fighter, the opportunity to become an 'exploring officer' leads him into even more dangerous territory, the murky world of politics and partisans. And while Ensign Williams seeks to uncover the identity of the mysterious 'Heroine of Saragossa', a conspiracy of revenge within the regiment itself threatens to destroy him before he's even faced a shot from the French.
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: