Firstly, thanks to everyone who came on Thursday night to discuss 'Azincourt'. A great discussion (although we agreed there wasn't so much to have a debate about in the book) and fantastic to see so many new faces!
Don't forget to feed me any ideas you may have for the group. I'm more than happy for it evolve as the members feel. It was suggested in the past that we could see a historical movie together, but there are all sorts of other ideas that people may have. And of course, any ideas for future reads, let me know.
Our next meetup will be in the first half of October.
I've just created two polls: one to choose the date and one to choose the next book.
Please go to the Polls section to vote.http://www.meetup.com/London-Historical-Fiction-Book-Group/polls/
Below are details of each of the shortlisted books. Please vote for as many books as you like.
The most popular one will be our October read. If the second most popular book also gets plenty of votes, then that will be our following read.
I will close the poll as soon as sufficient people have voted, hopefully in no more than a week's time.
The books are as follows (date shown is of first publication; page numbers and RRP is of the current paperback):
(NB. I've included the link to Amazon UK but you may be able to find the book more cheaply on other sites such as Play.com, Awesome Books or Green Metropolis. I'm sure you have your favourites. Aphrohead and The Book Depository are other sites to check out for new books with free delivery.)
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zaf?n (2004) [originally written in Spanish]
pages: 544; RRP: ?7.99http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadow-Wind-Carlos-Ruiz-Zafon/dp/0753820250
A stunning literary thriller in the tradition of Umberto Eco. The discovery of a forgotten book leads to a hunt for an elusive author who may or may not still be alive...
Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the 'cemetery of lost books', a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles that have long gone out of print. To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out 'La Sombra del Viento' by Julian Carax. But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. Then, one night, as he is wandering the old streets once more, Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from La Sombra del Viento, a character who turns out to be the devil. This man is tracking down every last copy of Carax's work in order to burn them. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to find out the truth behind the life and death of Julian Carax and to save those he left behind. A page-turning exploration of obsession in literature and love, and the places that obsession can lead.
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent (2008)
pages: 400; RRP: ?6.99http://www.amazon.co.uk/Heretics-Daughter-Kathleen-Kent/dp/033045630X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0
Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived.
Kathleen Kent is a tenth generation descendent of Martha Carrier. She paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family's deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.
Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant (2009)
pages: 480; RRP: ?7.99http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sacred-Hearts-Sarah-Dunant/dp/1844083306/ref=tmm_pap_title_0
1570 in the Italian city of Ferrara, and the convent of Santa Caterina is filled with noble women who are married to Christ because many cannot find husbands outside. Enter sixteen-year-old Serafina, ripped by her family from an illicit love affair, howling with rage and hormones and determined to escape. While on the other side of the great walls, counter-reformation forces in the Church are pushing for change, inside, Serafina's spirit and defiance ignite a fire that threatens to engulf the whole convent. SACRED HEARTS is a novel about power, creativity and passion - both of the body and of the soul. Hidden history brought alive by a wonderful storyteller, renowned for her Italian Renaissance novels.
The Group by Mary McCarthy (1962)
pages: 448; RRP: ?7.99http://www.amazon.co.uk/Group-Mary-McCarthy/dp/1844085937
THE GROUP follows eight graduates from exclusive Vassar College as they find love and heartbreak, forge careers, gossip and party in 1930s Manhattan. THE GROUP can be seen as the original SEX AND THE CITY. It is the first novel to frankly portray women's real lives, exploring subjects such as sex, contraception, motherhood and marriage.
Farewell Britannia: A Family Saga Of Roman Britain by Simon Young (2007)
pages: 304; RRP: ?8.99http://www.amazon.co.uk/Farewell-Britannia-Family-Roman-Britain/dp/0753823705/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2
Brilliant young historian Simon Young has invented a multi-generational family, part Roman, part Celtic (invaders intermarrying with natives) to tell the dramatic story of 400 years of Roman rule in Britain. Vivid historical detail is balanced by a real feel for the psychological depth of the individual stories. The narrator is writing this 'family history' in 430 AD, realising the Romans will never return. He chooses 14 of the most interesting, but not always the most admirable, of his ancestors. The big events of Roman Britain are all here: scouting for Caesar's expedition in 55 BC; the Roman invasion in 43 AD; Boudicca's revolt and the massacre of 70,000 Romans; the Pict attacks on Hadrian's Wall; the great Barbarian Conspiracy of 367; and the sudden cataclysmic departure of the legions in 410. But there are plenty of non-military episodes: spying on the Druids; a centurion dreaming of retirement with a young slave he has bought; an ambitious wife on the northern frontier; a bad poet in Londinium; infanticide in Surrey; a young Christian girl facing martyrdom in a British amphitheatre.
Ireland by Frank Delaney (2004)
pages: 496; RRP: ?8.99http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ireland-Novel-Frank-Delaney/dp/0751535257/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1281209707&sr=1-1
One evening in 1951, an itinerant storyteller arrives unannounced and mysterious at a house in the Irish countryside. By the November fireside he begins to tell the story of this extraordinary land. One of his listeners, a nine-year-old boy, grows so entranced by the storytelling that, when the old man leaves, he devotes his life to finding him again. It is a search that uncovers both passions and mysteries, in his own life as well as the old man's, and their solving become the thrilling climax to this tale. But the life of this boy is more than just his story: it is also the telling of a people, the narrative of a nation, the history of Ireland in all its drama, intrigue and heroism. 'Ireland' travels through the centuries by way of story after story, from the savage grip of the Ice Age to the green and troubled land of tourist brochures and news headlines. Along the way, we meet foolish kings and innocent monks, god-heroes and great works of art, shrewd Norman raiders and envoys from Rome, leaders, poets and lovers. Each illuminates the magic of Ireland, the power of England and the eternal connection to the land.
The Street Philosopher by Matthew Plampin (2009)
pages: 496; RRP: ?7.99http://www.amazon.co.uk/Street-Philosopher-Matthew-Plampin/dp/0007272448/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1281209863&sr=1-2
There was another war, some 150 years ago, which was unpopular at home -- the death rate shocking, the military strategy confused -- and the first on which the media had a major influence. The Street Philosopher -- the nineteenth-century term for a society writer, a gossip columnist -- captures this scene brilliantly. Ambitious young journalist Thomas Kitson arrives at the battlefields of the Crimea as the London Courier's man on the ground. It is a dangerous place, full of the worst horrors of war but Kitson is determined to make his mark. Under the tutelage of his hard-bitten Irish boss Cracknell, and assisted by artist Robert Styles, he sets about exposing the incompetence of the army generals. Two years later, as Sebastopol burns, Thomas returns to England under mysterious circumstances. Desperate to forget the atrocities of the Crimea, he takes a job as a 'street philosopher', a society writer reporting on the gossip of the day. But on the eve of the great Art Treasures Exhibition, as Manchester prepares to welcome Queen Victoria, Thomas's past returns to haunt him in the most horrifying way...
The Sweet Smell of Decay by Paul Lawrence (2009)
pages: 442; RRP: ?7.99http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sweet-Smell-Decay-Chronicle-Chronicles/dp/1905636423/ref=pd_sim_b_3
The first in a magnificent new series of historical novels set in 17th century Restoration London. Featuring the loveable rogue Harry Lytle, this first instalment sees him discover a mutilated body in a church - and is then told the corpse was a relative of his. His escapades and scrapes on his journey to the truth to this mystery make for a rollicking and glorious read.