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London Historical Fiction Book Group - Help choose our October book

From: Justin
Sent on: Sunday, August 7, 2011 6:05 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.
Thanks to everyone who came last Monday evening to discuss 'Helena' by Evelyn Waugh. Excellent turnout and great discussion, I thought. Thanks to everyone for their contributions. Good to see a few new faces - look forward to seeing you again.

Our next meetup is on Monday 12 September to discuss "Silent in the Grave" by Deanna Raybourn. Please RSVP when you get a chance if you haven't done so yet.

After that, we meet on Monday 24 October and it's time to choose the book for that.
I've created a poll for everyone to vote on the book from the shortlist detailed below.
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 October read.
I will close the poll as soon as sufficient people have voted, hopefully in ten days' time or so.

Thanks and happy reading


The shortlisted books are as follows (date shown is of first publication). I've supplied a link to the current paperback edition on Amazon but you of course may be able to find older and/or cheaper editions at Amazon or elsewhere.

The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon (2010)
Pages: 320

What would it have been like to sit at the feet of the legendary philosopher Aristotle? Even more intriguing, what would it have been like to witness Aristotle instructing the most famous of his pupils, the young Alexander the Great? In her first novel, acclaimed fiction writer Annabel Lyon boldly imagines one of history's most intriguing relationships and the war at its heart between ideas and action as a way of knowing the world.

The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller (2010)
Pages: 448

1920. The Great War has been over for two years, and it has left a very different world from the Edwardian certainties of 1914. Following the death of his wife and baby and his experiences on the Western Front, Laurence Bartram has become something of a recluse. Yet death and the aftermath of the conflict continue to cast a pall over peacetime England, and when a young woman he once knew persuades him to look into events that apparently led her brother, John Emmett, to kill himself, Laurence is forced to revisit the darkest parts of the war. As Laurence unravels the connections between Captain Emmett's suicide, a group of war poets, a bitter regimental feud and a hidden love affair, more disquieting deaths are exposed. Even at the moment Laurence begins to live again, it dawns on him that nothing is as it seems, and that even those closest to him have their secrets ...

Pereira Maintains by Antonio Tabucchi (1995)
(translation from Italian)
Pages: 208

In the sweltering summer of 1938 in Portugal, a country under the fascist shadow of Spain, a mysterious young man arrives at the doorstep of Dr Pereira. So begins an unlikely alliance that will result in a devastating act of rebellion. This is Pereira's testimony. 

Ben Hur by Lew Wallace (1880)
Pages: 400
Various editions, eg:

Ben-Hur is readily associated with its four film versions, yet Lew Wallace's epic novel of 1880 was a huge bestseller, written by a former soldier who had fought in American Civil War. Intended as a moral and inspirational narrative, Ben-Hur's life parallels that of Jesus as he makes a journey of discovery and enlightenment through the Mediterranean world from Jerusalem through Nazareth to the galleys that carry him to shipwreck in the Aegean, and, finally, Rome. A spiritual tale of the quest for love, the recovery of identity and patrimony, Ben-Hur's vivid description is based on a breadth of research into the Bible and the Holy Lands that never fails to delight in its detail and realism. Like many other 'toga novels', Ben-Hur is also marked by traces of contemporary issues - the dissent, division and moral contradiction of emerging imperial cultures, the 'New Woman' question, and even trade unionism.

Sacred Treason by James Forrester (2010)
Pages: 480

London, 1563. England is a troubled nation. Catholic plots against the young Queen Elizabeth spring up all over the country. The herald William Harley - known to everyone as Clarenceux - receives a book from his friend and fellow Catholic, Henry Machyn. But Machyn is in fear of his life... What secret can the book hold? And then Clarenceux is visited by the State in the form of Francis Walsingham and his ruthless enforcers, who will stop at nothing to gain possession of it. If Clarenceux and his family are to survive the terror of the state, he must solve the clues contained in the book to unlock its dangerous secrets before it's too late. And when he does, he realises that it's not only his life and the lives of those most dear to him that are at stake...

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