The Birth of Venus

Posted by on Feb 12, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The Birth of Venus

I fell in love with this book from the first page. Sarah Dunant’s recreation of Renaissance Florence is breath-taking. The young protagonist, Alessandra, is totally convincing as true to her time: restricted but vibrant, frustrated in her artistic ability but determined to find her own path, a girl who fights for her independence yet finds herself cruelly betrayed. This is a story that explores extremes of passion, dancing thriller-fast between the pursuit of sublime beauty and a dark underworld of violence, at...

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Richard III and his Times

Posted by on Feb 10, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Richard III and his Times

There’s an afternoon and evening of exciting literary events the day before Richard III’s historic re-interment in Leicester on March 25. Amongst many goodies on offer will be a talk by renowned historian and author Alison Weir, sessions led by bestselling novelists Joanna Hickson and Toby Clements, as well as a discussion by a panel of experts on Richard III in fact and fiction. I’ll be running a starter workshop on writing historical fiction as well. Come along – it’s all free! For...

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The Poet’s Wife

Posted by on Dec 24, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

The Poet’s Wife

Lovely, lyrical and ravishing in its portrayal of a lost rural England in the mid-nineteenth century, this novel by Judith Allnatt is a wonderful one to read over the Christmas break. The countryside is a central character in this story, as seen through the eyes of John Clare’s wife in all her poverty and rustic simplicity, yet she has a deep empathy that resonates with the beauty of the poet’s verse, and above all with an extraordinarily steadfast and self-sacrificing love. We’ve become so...

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The Promise by Ann Weisgarber

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

The Promise by Ann Weisgarber

I adored this book: poignant, moving and most sensitively written; it speaks of human frailty and endurance, and the way love can flower like a bloom on shifting sands. The voices of the two central characters – Nan, the illiterate helpmeet, and Catherine, the privileged pianist – are totally convincing, despite the gulf between them in background. These voices ring true throughout the struggle of Nan and Catherine to come to terms with one another and the changes in their lives. Catherine’s...

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The Devil in the Marshalsea

Posted by on Oct 6, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

The Devil in the Marshalsea

A well-deserved winner of the CWA Historical Dagger Award, The Devil in the Marshalsea is a cracking good page-tuner that grabs the reader in a bear-hug against the underbelly of Georgian Society. So effective is Antonia Hodgson’s storytelling that the adrenalin rush and stench of the experience lingers long after the last chapter is grudgingly finished. Elegantly plotted, with a neat unity of place and action packed into a few nerve-jangling days – the place being the infamous debtors’ prison, the...

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