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Historical Fiction Book Group Update and Shortlist for January Meetup

From: Justin
Sent on: Friday, November 12, 2010 5:46 PM
Hi everyone.
Firstly, welcome to all those who've joined the group recently. Very much looking forward to seeing you at one of our meetups soon.

As you know, we are meeting on 24 November to discuss 'Spartacus'. Hope to see you there. I will email again nearer the time.
November Meetup: Spartacus by Lewis?

Meanwhile, I'd like to get another date in the diary, which will be in mid to late January. Thanks to those who sent me suggestions on our theme of the English Civil War / Charles I.

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.

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 January 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). Some of these are out of print, but seem to be easily available online cheaply. I?ve supplied Amazon links to the edition that seems to have the most secondhand
copies, but if you search for the other editions, you may find a better copy.) (I also find, Awesome Books or Green Metropolis good for used copies, and Aphrohead and The Book Depository for new books.)

As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann (2001)
pages: 544
In print: RRP ?8.99

Product Description
With her first book, As Meat Loves Salt, Maria McCann joins a small, esteemed company of writers--Umberto Eco and Gore Vidal among them--whose historical novels are meticulously researched, politically acute, and rattling good reads. Set in the 17th century, during the English civil war, As Meat Loves Salt follows the misadventures of Jacob, born a gentleman but raised a servant, whose overdeveloped sense of personal dignity leads him from one crisis to another. When the book opens, he is already a murderer. Within a hundred pages he becomes a rapist and a thief. All this is perfect training for a military career, and Jacob soon finds himself in Cromwell's New Model army and in thrall to a charismatic man named Ferris. "It was all pre-ordained," says Jacob later, when the men have deserted together, "there had never been a place where I could have leapt free of the net." Rich with period detail, multilayered, and erotic, this is a big, delicious novel with a hint of crunchy intellection. Expect a lost weekend.

Havoc in its Third Year by Ronan Bennett (2004)
pages: 320
Out of print but widely available

Product Description
England in the 1630's: a difficult country in turbulent times. John Brigges is a governor a man who has kept away from intrigues to work on his farm and be with his wife, now expecting their first child. He is also - secretly - a Catholic. When he is called to settle the murder of a new-born child, Brigges finds himself drawn into matters he wants to avoid. Katherine Shay, an Irishwoman is accused of killing her baby. Brigges wants to wait for more evidence. The ascendant puritan faction, however, demand her immediate hanging. Brigges suspects their haste has little to do with their talk of justice. What are they hiding? And does he really want to know? In the background, a rebellion is brewing. Only Brigges - and his investigation - can change the tide. Torn between home and the world, haunted by the mystery of Katharine Shay he must finally make a stand.

Myself My Enemy by Jean Plaidy (1983)
Pages: 384;
Out of print but easily available:
and also available in print in a reissued US edition but with a different title, "Loyal in Love":

Product Description
The story of Henrietta Maria, wife of the doomed Charles I. Fiercely loyal in love, impetuously ruthless in hatred, she stood beside her husband throughout his reign, as together they watched their downfall and the rise of Cromwell, unaware of the spies in their own household.

The King's General by Daphne du Maurier (1946)
Pages: 371
In print RRP: ?7.99

Product Description
Set during the Civil War, this tells the story of the Cornish families caught up in the conflict and their tangled personal loyalties. Honor Harris is only eighteen when she first meets Richard Grenvile, proud, reckless - and utterly captivating. But following a riding accident, Honor must reconcile herself to a life alone. As Richard rises through the ranks of the army, marries and makes enemies, Honor remains true to him, and finally discovers the secret of Menabilly.

Charles The King by Evelyn Anthony (1961)
pages: 304
Out of print but available used:

Product Description
Tells the story of a long and bloody Civil War as well as the love of a devoted husband and wife. The marriage between Charles I and Henrietta was troubled and bitterly unhappy for the first three years, but only when Charles had won her physically and mentally did Henrietta return his love.

Traitor's Blood by Michael Arnold (2010)
pages: 384
Only in hardback but available reasonably:

Product Description
Once seen in the heat of battle, Captain Stryker is never forgotten. A hardened veteran of the wars in the Low Countries, he has come home to England to seek revenge on the man who left him for dead and scarred him for life. Stryker is driven by loyalty rather than conviction to serve King Charles's cause. He has no truck with aristocracy, preferring the company of a handful of trusted men, including sometime actor Lancelot Forreseter and his foul-mouthed sergeant, Skellen. But when the existence of a dangerous spy at the heart of the Royalist establishment is discovered, it is Stryker whom Prince Rupert chooses to capture the man before he realises the game is up. Lightly armed and with only a handful of men, Stryker must journey across a country riven by bitterness and beset by marauding bands of soldiers in a race against time. But unbeknown to Stryker, someone else is also closing in on his quarry, someone whom Stryker has sworn to kill: Captain Eli Makepeace, his nemesis, the man who nearly destroyed him . . .

Wintercombe by Pamela Belle (1988)
Pages: 624
Out of print but available used:

Product Description
Set in Somerset England, the first book in the Wintercombe series features a Puritan family who's house is garrisoned by the Kings men, while the master of the household and his son are off fighting for Parliament. Silence St. Barbe, the Puritan housewife left to run the home in her husband's absence, faces many challenges and trials with the Kings men in her midst. Little did she know that she would fall in love with a young, charming Captain of the Kings army, Nicholas Hellier. This story has the rich detail of life during the Civil War, and gives us a glimpse into a Puritan house.

They Were Defeated by Rose Macaulay (1932)
pages: 448
Out of print but available used:

Product Description
THEY WERE DEFEATED begins in 1640 at a harvest festival - but religious persecution is in the air, and the idyllic rural scene is soon darkened by the threat of a witch hunt... Rose Macaulay interweaves the lives of Robert Herrick and other contemporary poets with those of a small group of fictional characters. Their lives, and in particular the life of her heroine Julian, are set vividly before us against a period which was one of the most dramatic and unsettled in English history. Skilfully intertwining tragedy, comedy and beauty, THEY WERE DEFEATED was Rose Macaulay's only historical novel, and is 'her greatest success' [Observer]

Mary of Carisbrooke by Margaret Campbell Barnes (1956)
pages: 365
Out of print but available used:

Product Description
Richly drawn and inspired by the New York Times bestselling author's own experience living on the Isle of Wight, this dramatic retelling brings to life the cavalier king whom Cromwell deposed. But even more fascinating than the account of royal hopes and misfortunes is the tale of a charming servant girl who is as romantic and tender in love as she is bold and resourceful in plotting the king's escape.

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