In Lovesong, three-time Whitbread Prize winner Geraldine McCaughrean has written what Philippa Gregory called “Probably the best historical novel I have ever read.”
At the centre of the story is a talented troubadour, Peter Oriole, and his daughter, ‘Princess’ Ouallada. The opening sections of the book trace Oriole’s journey from France to the Holy Land in the service of two very different crusader Knights, one a saintly aesthete, the other a cynical opportunist. The twelfth century was a time when men and women were inventing – or perhaps reinventing – the nature of love itself, and it was the troubadour’s task to express that love in song – their fate either glory or scandalous ruin.
What does love mean to Oriole? As he discovers both romance and passion in his own life we are introduced to an extraordinary cast of characters – rogues, mountebanks, villains, heroes, damsels both in and out of distress, soldiers and holy men, all working out their own destiny, each compellingly and convincingly drawn.
This is the story of one man’s wreck on the sea of passion – and his daughter’s stormy voyage in his wake. With strikingly detailed imagery and characterisation that is totally convincing and compassionate, Geraldine McCaughrean has written a novel of ideas which is also storytelling at full pelt.
“McCaughrean is well on her way to becoming one of the few great novelists to adorn our age.” MAIL ON SUNDAY
The old proverb ‘The grass is always greener’ turned out to be an artist’s impression, not real life at all.
When Charlotte Whitfield – known to everyone as Charlie – receives a letter from her best friend Libby, she has no idea that her life is about to change forever. Libby and James, Charlie’s husband, have been having an affair, and James has decided to leave the marriage and move in with Libby.
But if Libby and James thought that Charlie was ready to be a victim, they had forgotten the tough resourceful woman they had both known and loved. Calling on all her strength, Charlie takes control of her own life, despite losing a baby as well as a husband.
When James, for whom the grass turned out not to be greener on the other side, starts to threaten Charlie his erratic behaviour turns quickly into dangerous obsession. Charlie is forced to re-evaluate everything, and find
out, for the first time, what it is she truly wants. And beside her all the way is Libby’s ex-husband Bruce, whose underappreciated grace and charm become a bedrock for Charlie. Are they too falling in love?
Elaine Ellis’s Postman’s Knock is a moving story of the way life continues to surprise, and how the actions of other people, for better or worse, make us look anew at ourselves.
A SUMMERS CHILD
Lara Allen seems to have it all. A linguist for the Foreign Office, she speaks five languages and has the ear of world leaders and government minsters. But there is one part of her life that leaves an ache which all her success can never fill – a daughter she gave away at nineteen after a chance encounter while waitressing in
Returning sixteen years later for her sister’s hen night, Lara finds herself drawn back to that time, and to the family who had adopted her child. After sixteen years of staying strong, she finds herself wanting to know what happened, and wanting to peek into the life of the girl she left behind.
By turns funny and moving, this is a heart-warming story of families coming together, and sharing their hopes and their regrets. Filled with fascinating characters and great locations, A Summer’s Child is a poignant reminder that sometimes the things we think we’ve lost can still be found, and in the end there is nothing like family to teach us how to live, and how to forgive.
Perkin Warbeck appeared from nowhere and claimed to be Richard Duke of York, the younger son of Edward IV – one of the ‘Princes in the Tower’.
To some people, including the influential and rich Margaret Duchess of Burgundy, he was the real thing – tall and handsome like her brother the late king and a true heir to the Plantagenet legacy.
Others suspected that he was an imposter; but they couldn’t be certain. And in the whole of Europe, only Janet Evershed knew the truth: that he was, indeed, the son of King Edward, but a bastard with no claim to
Perkin saw himself as a chivalrous Knight of the Round Table, coming to rescue the downtrodden English from a murderous tyrant usurper. But the reality of his situation did not match his shining vision and offered him questions instead of answers. What was the right thing to do?
RETURN TO BONNYBRAE
It is the start of 1919 and Miss Rina Capel, granddaughter of the Laird of Stavondale has one ambition – to set aside her life of privilege and become a nurse. But when she is summoned back to the Bonnybrae to see her dying grandfather just before her eighteenth birthday, he reveals to her family secrets which turn her world upside down.
In love with a man she can’t have, and facing marriage to a man she has never met, Rina must draw on all her reserves of strength and female guile to escape a fate to which her dissolute parents would condemn her. And what dark secret is it that her father harbours, and which threatens the estate itself?
Set in the wilds of a Scotland looking to recover from the most terrible war in human history, this is a gripping tale of one woman’s attempt to give her life meaning, and to be a force for good against terrible odds. Can Rina chart a course in a world torn asunder, and can she protect the Estate from the awful consequences of her parents’ actions? And can she find love, and find a way for happiness to return to Bonnybrae?
Vainglory begins in France in 1429, the year of the Siege of Orléans, as Victoire de Gloriole regains possession of the family castle from the English following the Battle of Agincourt. Having consolidated his position by marrying a beautiful Englishwoman, Victoire sets out to rebuild a dynasty and a castle. However some years on, he finds himself without a legitimate heir, and at war with a family of scheming cousins. From Joan of Arc and the 15th century wars with the English through to Catherine de Medici and the slaughter of the Huguenots, Vainglory tells the story of a power-hungry family who will let nothing and no one get in their way. Cleverly plotted and beautifully written, it is a historical novel of rare class
I AM ENGLAND
An epic novel of passion, hardship and bravery through 1500 years of English history
Sweeping through fifteen centuries of life in the heart of southern England, this epic novel records the lives of the ordinary people of of Britain from the
end of the Roman occupation through to the late 16th century. Patricia Wright brings to life a colourful range of characters, from serfs to kings, from slave girls to bishops and from honest working families to murderers, to illustrate what it must have been like to live through some of the most challenging periods of English history, including the
attacks of the hated Viking marauders, the French defeat of the English at Hastings, the arrival of the despised Norman invaders and the dissolution of the monasteries.
WINNER OF THE 1987 GEORGETTE HEYER AWARD
THEORY OF MIND
Part love story, part thriller, Theory of Mind is the compelling and disturbing story of a young woman’s attempt to discover what goes on inside the minds of chimpanzees, mankind’s nearest living relatives. Her involvement w
ith the animals starts to affect her own relationships, in particular that with her new boyfriend Corin. His energy stimulates her, his passion excites her and his work as a TV producer fascinates her. But does he have real feelings for her, or does he just want to control her? Feelings increasingly preoccupy Sandra as she carries out her research into the emotions of chimps. Do they ‘care’ about other chimps? Do they, in fact, have ‘theory of mind’? During her daily visits to the zoo, Sandra meets a strange and isolated child, Paul, son of one of the keepers. Why does he disappear for hours on end? She also worries about her exotic, brilliant friend Kim, a scientist who has built the killing instinct into her predator robots. Something, or someone, in Kim’s past is making her unpredictable and aggressive. As Theory of Mind races to its shocking and terrifying conclusion, much more than Sandra’s emotions are at risk. Richly observed and powerfully written, this extraordinary first novel from Sanjida O’Connell’s introduced a compelling new talent.
This is the strange, haunting story of two ill-starred lovers, set against the backdrop of the religious upheaval of Henry VIII’s time. Hazel, a
peasant girl marked by the witches’ brand and a dangerous beauty, loves Black John, an outlaw and aristocrat, whom she rescues from the gallows. Together they struggle to survive a world in which brutal death awaits at every corner, and stumble along a fateful collision course towards a harrowing climax. Rhona Martin’s remarkable first novel won the Georgette Heyer Historical Novel Prize in 1977
“Extremely accomplished by any standard, but astonishing as a debut. . . Extraordinarily gripping.”
Philippa Toomey —The Times
“Extraordinarily good… so well written and paced that it continually grips one’s most ardent attention.”
Hampstead & Highgate Express
The violent reign of Henry VIII . . . the dissolution of the monasteries, the sinister threat of the witch hunters, and a time of fear and danger for his people.
‘’A Chilling blend…the story line is good…a nice ear for dialogue’’
KING OF THE WOOD
Who fired the arrow that killed King William Rufus, eldestson of William the Conqueror, in 1100 AD? No one knows – but in King of the Wood,
acclaimed historical novelist Valerie
Anand sets out a compelling and fascinating story that fits the known facts and provides a highly credible answer. William’s addiction to vice and callous treatment of his subjects
made him enemies on both sides of the English Channel, and provoked bitter resentment among noblemen, to say nothing of his disregarded younger brothers. His open homosexuality and disregard for religion also enraged the Church. As the story unfolds, we begin to understand just how unpopular the new king is – and why som
eone wants him dead… ‘A satisfying historical tale, packed with forceful personalities and boisterous romance. Popular British historical fiction and mystery writer Valerie Anand brings past times and conundrums to life with fascinating characters, abundant detail and meticulous research’.
WALTER AND THE RESURRECTION OF G
Twelfth-century Europe: Walter, a brilliant young singer, leaves his home in the forests of Germany in search of love and fame. He joins
theCrusades and while wandering between monasteries and castles, clashes with a mysterious Brotherhood of Watchers. His struggle leads him to Constantinople, and a meeting with the Doge of Venice – which will change him utterly. Who is Walter though? What really is his role in the great affairs of his time?
Present-day Oxford: G, an exceptional and slightly sinister don, dies in the most bizarre circumstances while working on a medieval manuscript. The manuscript, based upon an occult system, is about Walter. How does the past reach out to the present?
This is a powerful and compelling tale about personal and political catastrophe in a time of
uncertainty and danger. It is also a daring and brilliant contemplation of the Middle Ages with an unforgettable hero whose music weaves magic, and a certain mayhem, throughout the tale.
THE LARGEST BABY IN IRELAND
As the title of Anne Barnett’s debut novel suggests, this is “a tale that makes things bigger than they are”. The everyday, intricate dramas of a 1920s mid-Ulster rural community
are observed with the grace, humour and languor of a fine story-telling voice that is assured, romantic and replete with the dour idiomatic phrases of people who never travel beyond a 10-mile radius. In the townland of Ballymully, near Cookstown, lives Felix Campbell, a Protestant and a bachelor through and through, who at 42, dreams of a woman in purple. “He grew up in a glen with a glen-shaped soul, and baptism in his heart and catechism in his mind”, unprepared for “the tribulations of high emotion”, so when he falls for Sarah-Ann O’Malloran, a big bawdy widow with 14 children, his soul sparks for the first time and he discovers lonesomeness.
In Sarah-Ann, irrepressible, idiosyncratically attired and unconcerned about the morals of “a very small town in the centre of a very small country”, Barnett creates an exceptionally vivid, larger-than-life character, who was born weighing in at 13 pounds, is the novel’s eponymous heroine.
Not only does she cavort in “silly frippery” with Sean Boyd, the polygamist, she’s Catholic and that strikes fear into the Ulstermen who gather on the bridge of a Sunday, not only for Felix’s heart, but for his farm as well. “Irish history is always the same … To be born Protestant or Catholic in Ireland, almost always sets the course of a man’s political identity … It was as easy as telling a dog from a cat.”
Against a backdrop of World War One, which Protestants hope will end Home Rule for good, Felix awkwardly courts Sarah-Ann, regardless of the inevitably cruel gossip. The narrative lilts and circles in a seductive dance around the shame and uncertainty of the lovers. Its incantatory tone invokes generations of myth, while its sharp and funny characterisations and colloquialisms give a blunt and honest modernity. Sarah-Ann may have hair “as black as a raven’s” but she wears no knickers. In detailing the small gestures, sleights, motions and notions of a community split by repressed and powerful emotions, Barnett evokes the wider incongruities of history and the oddities of desire and allegiance.
SONS OF YORK
It’s 15th Century London and through a quirk of fate young widow Janet Evershed finds herself running her late husband’s cloth business, far from her York home. It’s in this very
shop that she meets Richard Neville, Duke of Warwick and his ward Edward, Earl of March. They may be much higher than commoner Janet but she has caught Edward’s eye and what Edward wants, he gets, be it a woman or, indeed, the crown of England.
Janet Evershed was the daughter of the Mayor of York, a successful and well-regarded mercer. But Janet’s life didn’t follow the usual pattern for a well brought-up girl. Due to a series of unexpected events she became a very young widow running her own growing business in London; the mistress of the charismatic king; and an exile in the Low Countries with her life inextricably entwined with those of the Princes in the Tower. They were all sons of York – Edward IV, Richard III, their brother George and all their children. Janet was not part of the elite, glittering court. She was both a bystander and a part of their lives.
THE WHITE QUEEN OF MIDDLEHAM
For Anne Neville, a timid and delicate child ignored by her mother, patronised by her elder sister and bullied by her formidable father Warwick the Kingmaker, her childhood friend Richard Plantagenet becomes a source of strength throughout her life.As she moves abruptly from castle to castle, and from England to France, with Warwick’s changing fortunes in the turbulent Wars of the Roses, Anne is a pawn in the dangerous games of political intrigue that she struggles to understand. The third son of the ambitious Duke of York, later King Richard III, is a hero in the eyes of the shy and bewildered Anne, and the key to her understanding of the great events happening around her.
Their love, almost wrecked by the feud of York and Lancaster, culminates in great happiness and the last Plantagenet reign in England. The White Queen of Middleham was originally called The White Queen. Under that title it was runner up for the first Georgette Heyer Historical Novel Prize.
THE SWORD OF HACHIMAN
At the dawn of the Shogun era two mighty warrior clans, the Minamoto and the Taira, struggle for power under the Cloistered Emperor. The Taira are in uneasy control, but the
three Minamoto sons, separated and exiled at birth, are secretly reuniting to conquer them and avenge their father’s bloody death. It is the youngest, Yoshitsune, who is deemed most worthy of possessing the family heirloom, the Sword of Hachiman, the War God.. We follow Yoshitsune behind the scenes of the rarefied Cloister Court, where two extraordinary women enter his life…
With striking colour and authenticity, Lynn Guest unfolds the story of one of the most romantic and celebrated heroes of Japanese history and legend.