historical fiction

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      We’ve said on several occasions how much we like a good historical novel, and ones paying a nod to the Gothic tradition are of particular interest: Rhiannon Ward (aka crime writer Sarah Ward) ticks both these boxes in the beautifully produced The Quickening. Set in 1925, in a post-World War I world, … Continue readings

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    Inspired by true events, Hazel Gaynor’s The Bird in the Bamboo Cage tells of a group of teachers and children interned by the Japanese during the Second World War. At the heart of the story are teacher Elspeth Kent and ten-year-old pupil Nancy, from whose dual perspectives we witness events. In 1941, the … Continue readings

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    We are, as we’ve said before, partial to a good piece of historical fiction and Ellen Alpsten’s debut novel, Tsarina, is a veritable beast of a book. Told in the first person, it charts the rise of Catherine I, second wife of Peter the Great, from her humble beginnings as peasant girl Marta … Continue readings

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    There have been some very fine books, in the last few years, set in the Australian outback. Alison Booth’s historical novel, The Philosopher’s Daughters, joins this canon. Set in the late nineteenth century, it moves between London and remote Australia, and focuses on sisters Harriet and Sarah, daughters of radical James Cameron. While … Continue readings

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    Dancer–entertainer Anton Du Beke’s historical extravaganza, Moonlight Over Mayfair, is everything one would expect from this Strictly star turned novelist. It’s a rollicking great read mired in the world of late 1930s’ London. The sequel to his best-selling One Enchanted Evening, its setting is the Buckingham, a luxurious hotel where the elite rub … Continue readings

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  We do like a good historical crime-fiction novel and David Young’s Stasi Winter fits perfectly into this category. It’s our first Young experience, yet the fifth in an existing series featuring Karin Müller, a detective in East Germany’s People’s Police. And as we can testify, it can be read as a standalone, although we … Continue readings

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  First review of 2020 and we start with a bang and not a whimper with Rose Black’s highly readable The Unforgetting. Set in Victorian England, the book pays more than a nod to classic Gothic literature. At its centre is protagonist Lily Bell who dreams of a sparkling career on the London stage. When … Continue readings

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  THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A ROLLICKING GREAT ADVENTURE, particularly one with rich historical and global context. The Outrageous Fortune of Abel Morgan, veteran author Cynthia Jefferies’ first foray into adult fiction, is one such tale. Set just after the end of the English Civil War, the story opens with Christopher Morgan returning from exile in … Continue readings

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  Drawing on the letters and diaries of her parents, Debbie Rix’s new novel, The Secret Letter, follows English Imogen and German Magda as they deal with the heartache and terror of living in countries impacted by the Second World War. Early in the war, Imogen is evacuated to the Lake District away from her … Continue readings

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  ANTHONY BURGESS ONCE COMMENTED THAT ‘ALL NOVELS ARE EXPERIMENTAL’, and while that appears true of such work as A Clockwork Orange and Napoleon Symphony, I think he would be delighted with Adam Roberts’ The Black Prince, based on a 90-page screenplay that Burgess wrote, which was never filmed. Roberts, an academic, great Burgess fan … Continue readings

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