Frances Howard has beauty and a powerful family – and is the most unhappy creature in the world.
Anne Turner has wit and talent – but no stage on which to display them. Little stands between her and the abyss of destitution.
When these two very different women meet in the strangest of circumstances, a powerful friendship is sparked. Frankie sweeps Anne into a world of splendour that exceeds all she imagined: a Court whose foreign king is a stranger to his own subjects; where ancient families fight for power, and where the sovereign’s favourite may rise and rise – so long as he remains in favour.
With the marriage of their talents, Anne and Frankie enter this extravagant, savage hunting ground, seeking a little happiness for themselves. But as they gain notice, they also gain enemies; what began as a search for love and safety leads to desperate acts that could cost them everything.
Based on the true scandal that rocked the court of James I, A Net for Small Fishes is the most gripping novel you’ll read this year: an exhilarating dive into the pitch-dark waters of the Jacobean court.
Sisters of the Quantock Hills is the compelling saga of the lives and loves of four sisters – Frances, Julia, Gwen and Sarah Purcell – and their neighbours, the Mackenzies. Set during the early part of the last century, the series encompasses two World Wars, and the sisters’ individual stories are told against the backdrop of major historical events happening at the time.
An astounding literary accomplishment, Bring Up the Bodies is the story of this most terrifying moment of history, by one of our greatest living novelists. Bring Up the Bodies unlocks the darkly glittering court of Henry VIII, where Thomas Cromwell is now chief minister. With Henry captivated by plain Jane Seymour and rumours of Anne Boleyn’s faithlessness whispered by all, Cromwell knows what he must do to secure his position.
But the bloody theatre of the queen’s final days will leave no one unscathed.
‘A great novel of dark and dirty passions, public and private. A truly great story’ Financial Times ‘In another league.
This ongoing story of Henry VIII’s right-hand man is the finest piece of historical fiction I have ever read’ Sunday Telegraph
Born into slavery on a U.S. plantation in 1759, Daniel has no experience of life beyond the boundaries of his masters’ land until an event occurs which changes his life forever. Daniel is cast out of the plantation into a hostile world. He embarks on a journey which will span continents, test his courage and endurance to the limit and expose him to the horror of the slave trade.
Daniel’s experience as a crew member of a slave ship is so profound that he becomes determiend to campaign for the abolition of the UK slave trade. In doing so, he adds his voice to those of the great reformers of the age, inclduing Thomas Clarkson and the great William Wilberforce.
Daniel’s story is testimony to the resilience of the human spirit and how one man can make a difference. As we approach the anniversary of the abolition of slavery act, Daniel’s story reminds us of the determination and fortitude of those who brought about that change and continue to inspire us.
Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the American National Humanities Medal, returns to the world of Gilead with Jack, the final in one of the great works of contemporary American fiction.
Jack tells the story of John Ames Boughton, the loved and grieved-over prodigal son of a Presbyterian minister in Gilead, Iowa, a drunkard and a ne’er-do-well. In segregated St. Louis sometime after World War II, Jack falls in love with Della Miles, an African-American high school teacher, also a preacher’s child, with a discriminating mind, a generous spirit and an independent will. Their fraught, beautiful story is one of Robinson’s greatest achievements.
‘Jack is the fourth in Robinson’s luminous, profound Gilead series and perhaps the best yet’ OBSERVER
1914, and an English archaeologist called Somerville is fulfilling a lifelong dream: to direct an excavation in the desert of Mesopotamia. Yet forces beyond his control threaten his work.
The Great War is looming, and various interest groups are vying for control over the land and its manyprizes. And Somerville, whose intention is purely to discover and preserve the land’s ancient treasures finds his idealism sorely tested. Naked ambition, treachery and greed are at play, in a thrilling adventure from the master of the historical novel.
Set in the 1950s in West Virginia and Korea, Lark and Termite is a story of the power of loss and love, the echoing ramifications of war, family secrets, dreams and ghosts, and the unseen, almost magical bonds that unite and sustain us.
At its centre are: Lark and her brother, Termite, a child unable to walk and talk but full of radiance; their mother, Lola; their aunt, Nonie, who raises them; and Termite’s father, Corporal Robert Leavitt, who finds himself caught up in the early chaotic months of the Korean War.
Told with enormous imagination and deep feeling, the novel invites us into the hearts and thoughts of each of the leading characters; even into Termite’s intricate, shuttered consciousness. We are with Leavitt, trapped by friendly fire. We see Lark’s hopes for herself and Termite, and how she makes them happen. We learn of Lola’s love for her soldier husband and children, and unravel the mystery of her relationship with Nonie. We discover the lasting connections between past and future on the night the town experiences an overwhelming flood, and we follow Lark and Termite as their lives are changed for ever. This is the first novel for nine years by one of America’s greatest writers, Lark and Termite is rich, rewarding and unforgettable.
The second in Laura Purcell’s captivating and acclaimed series of novels chronicling the lives and loves of the consorts and mistresses of Britain’s rash and reckless Hanoverian kings.
Her first novel in the series, Queen of Bedlam, was shortlisted for Best Historical Romance 2014 and was Editor’s Pick, in Historical Novels Review.
Orphaned and trapped in an abusive marriage, Henrietta Howard has little left to lose. She stakes everything on a new life in Hanover with its royal family, the heirs to the British throne. Henrietta’s beauty and intelligence soon win her the friendship of clever Princess Caroline and her mercurial husband, Prince George. But, as time passes, it becomes clear that friendship is the last thing on the hot-blooded young prince’s mind. Dare Henrietta give into his advances and anger her violent husband? Dare she refuse?
Whatever George’s shortcomings, Princess Caroline is determined to make the family a success. Yet the feud between her husband and his obstinate father threatens all she has worked for. As England erupts in Jacobite riots, her family falls apart. She vows to save the country for her children to inherit even if it costs her pride and her marriage. Set in the turbulent years of the Hanoverian accession, Mistress of the Court tells the story of two remarkable women at the centre of George II’s reign.
How far would you go to resist oppression? What would you choose to remember, and what to forget? Are some wounds never meant to heal?
Siddhartha Bose’s play takes us to 1930s India to tell the story of Pritilata Waddedar, a young, female revolutionary who leads an attack on a whites-only club. ‘No Dogs, No Indians’ was commissioned by five major performing arts venues to mark the 70th anniversary of Indian independence.
MacGregor is desperate to return home. Unfortunately, he’s marooned in the Gulf of Darién, following independent Scotland’s doomed colonisation attempt at the end of the 17th century. Worse still, he’s a character in a novel whose author is dying, and he’s running out of time.
As the author’s preoccupations, memories and spiralling thoughts start to pollute MacGregor’s world, he finds his narrative eroding and his escape routes blocked. Desperately clinging to hope, MacGregor is determined to keep his Creator writing long enough to deliver him home. But will he be able to drive the story to its end before his Creator reaches theirs?
First published in 1837, The Bivouac is a collection of stories set against the backdrop of the Peninsular War (which began in 1808, making 2008 the bicentenary). It opens with a company of foot soldiers encamped in England when they receive their orders to sail for the Iberian Peninsula and follows it through the campaign against the French in Portugal and Spain, including the battles of Vittoria and Busaco. As well as the overarching story of their part in the Peninsular War, it also includes tales told by the characters themselves about other aspects of the lives. Focusing on the officers and soldiers of the company, rather than just on military matters, The Bivouac blends fiction and history and is a charming collection of stories that puts a different perspective on this part of the Napoleonic Wars.
“Youth is a dream, a form of chemical madness.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
It’s 1941, the last summer of American innocence, and eighteen-year-old Lillie Carrigan is desperate to love and be loved, to lose her virginity, to experience her life’s great, epic romance. Preoccupied with whiskey and cigarettes, sex and Catholic guilt, Lillie unknowingly sets in motion events leading to death and estrangement from her two best friends.
A decade on, Lillie is still haunted by the ghosts of that summer. Did she act solely out of youthful naivety and adolescent jealousy? Or perhaps there were darker forces at work: grief, guilt, sexual assault, and the double standards of her strict religious upbringing. Searching for patterns and meaning in the events of that year, and anxious to understand the person she has become, Lillie reflects on the darkness of her tarnished youth and confesses her sins.
London, 1649. Oliver Cromwell is running the country, and a law targeting unmarried mothers threatens the life of glovemaker Rachel Lockyer. This is her story.
‘This is historical fiction at its best – it is absolutely steeped in atmosphere, and so vividly recreates the interregnum era that I felt as though I’d been transported there. Stacia’s prose has a beautiful originality; and her characters come alive with authenticity and humanity. They are loveable and infuriating by turns, but the reader always believes in them, and invests hopes and fears with them. The story kept me gripped from the very first page; by turns desperately sad, funny and heart warming. I have genuinely enjoyed this book far more than anything else I have read for several months. I loved it!’ Katherine Webb, author of The Legacy and The Unseen
An epic, homourous and quite unique historical novel which looks at Central Europe in the 16th century – a territory plagued by ceaseless battles for supremacy between the Protestant political elite and the ruling Catholic Habsburg Monarchy, as well as the ongoing battle between the sexes. In Kumerdej’s wonderful saga, history and fiction intertwine in wavelike fashion, producing a colourful portrait of the Renaissance; permeated by humanist attempts to resurrect antiquity through art, new scientific findings, and spirited philosophical and theological debates.
June, 1348: the Black Death enters England through the port of Melcombe in the county of Dorsetshire. Unprepared for the virulence of the disease, and the speed with which it spreads, the people of the county start to die in their thousands.
In the estate of Develish, Lady Anne takes control of her people’s future – including the lives of two hundred bonded serfs. Strong, compassionate and resourceful, Lady Anne chooses a bastard slave, Thaddeus Thurkell, to act as her steward. Together, they decide to quarantine Develish by bringing the serfs inside the walls. With this sudden overturning of the accepted social order, where serfs exist only to serve their lords, conflicts soon arise. Ignorant of what is happening in the world outside, they wrestle with themselves, with God and with the terrible uncertainty of their futures.
Lady Anne’s people fear starvation but they fear the pestilence more. Who amongst them has the courage to leave the security of the walls?
And how safe is anyone in Develish when a dreadful event threatens the uneasy status quo..?
England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner.
As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour. Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army.
Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him? With The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.
Harriet Heron’s life is almost over before it has even begun. At just twenty-three years of age, she is an invalid, over-protected and reclusive. Before it is too late, she must escape the fog of Victorian London for a place where she can breathe.
Together with her devoted mother, Louisa, her god-fearing aunt, Yael, and a book of her own spells inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Harriet travels to a land where the air is tinged with rose and gold and for the first time begins to experience what it is to live. But a chance meeting on the voyage to Alexandria results in a dangerous friendship as Louisa’s long-buried past returns, in the form of someone determined to destroy her by preying upon her daughter.
As Harriet journeys towards a destiny no one could have foreseen, her aunt Yael is caught up in an Egypt on the brink of revolt and her mother must confront the spectres of her own youth.
Award-winning journalist and writer Wendy Wallace spins a tale of three women caught between propriety and love on a journey of cultural awakening through an exquisitely drawn Egypt. In prose both sumptuous and mesmeric, she conjures a sensibility akin to that of E M Forster and Merchant Ivory.
THE SUNDAY TIMES TOP BESTSELLER#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERSHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN’S PRIZELONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE
‘An utterly mesmerising novel..I absolutely loved this book’ Bernardine Evaristo, winner of the Booker Prize 2019
‘Epic’ Kiley Reid, O, The Oprah Magazine
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape.
The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing.
Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
One of the classics of South American literature. ‘It is not enough to say that he is an important American novelist; he is one of the masters in either hemisphere.’ – New York Times
Aires returns home to his native Rio after many years abroad and is captivated by a young widow whom he sees praying at her husband’s graveside. Her charm and the tragic story of her brief marriage increase his fascination, and soon he is indulging in impossible dreams. But the Brazil that Aires remembers from his youth is changing fast. A new era is dawning with events such as the coming of the railway and the abolition of slavery. The future belongs to a younger generation, to men like Tristao, the doctor and political candidate, who is also an admirer of the beautiful widow. This is a story of broken dreams, love, and obsession-universal themes that give the author’s work the timeless quality for which it is renowned.
During the Yule season of 1153 Malcolm mac Alasdair is sent to serve the half-Scottish, half-Viking Earl of Orkney, who is on a quest to regain his earldom from a treacherous cousin. Malcolm is an artistic boy with no knack for warfare, he is certain that he will only hinder the young earl – and get himself killed in the bargain. His father’s reason for sending him out on this adventure does nothing to allay his fears: in a vision he has seen Malcolm go to Orkney with Earl Harald. But this vision is incomplete – he hasn’t seen Malcolm return…
Thomas Cromwell. Son of a blacksmith, political genius, briber, charmer, bully. A man with a deadly expertise in manipulating people and events.
Mike Poulton’s ‘expertly adapted’ (Evening Standard) two-part ad adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s acclaimed novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies is a ‘gripping piece of narrative theatre … history made manifest’ (Guardian). The plays were premiered to great acclaim by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2013, before transferring to the Aldwych Theatre in London’s West End in May 2014.