London Historical Fiction Book Group: Help choose our January book

From: Justin
Sent on: Friday, October 19, 2012 3:45 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.

Our next meetup is on Monday 5 November to discuss "A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury" by Edith Pargeter. Please RSVP when you get a chance if you haven't done so yet. Details here:

After that, we will meet on Monday 14 January (2013!) and it's time to choose the book for that.

I've created a poll for everyone to vote on the November 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 January read.
I will close the poll in a week or so.

Thanks and happy reading

The Bone Thief by V. M. Whitworth (2012)
Pages: 464

Edward, son of Alfred the Great, has inherited the Kingdom of Wessex and achieved a precarious set of alliances through marriage and military conquest. But the alliance is uneasy and the kingdom of Mercia has more reason than most to fear the might of Wessex. Their Lord is elderly and perhaps mortally sick, and his wife fears that she does not have the power to withstand hostile takeover. She also knows too well what her neighbour is capable of -- after all, King Edward is her brother.
The chance to rescue St Oswald's bones, beloved patron saint, to consecrate her new church and unite the people behind her, is too good an opportunity to miss. But they are rumoured to be buried a long way north -- outside Lincoln, deep in hostile territory. Her secretary, Wulfgar, groomed for the priesthood since he was a boy in the elegant cloisters of Winchester cathedral but naïve in the ways of the wider world -- is surprised to be sent on this mission. It will prove an incredibly dangerous journey, requiring resources and courage Wulfgar did not know he had, and support from surprising allies along the way including a maverick priest and a Viking adventuress whose loyalties are far from clear.

Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison (2012)
Pages: 320

Petersburg, 1917: As the new year dawns, a diver pulls the murdered body of Rasputin, the Mad Monk, from the icy waters of the Neva River. Hours later, his daughters are taken to the Tsar's palace as wards of the Romanovs, where the Tsarina makes a shocking request: would Masha, 18, take her father's place at the sickbed of the tsarevitch Alyosha? Shaken, Masha agrees to do what she can for the imperious young prince, haunted as she is by questions about her father's powers and her future in a country accelerating toward political apocalypse. Two months later, the Bolshevik Revolution forces the Tsar to abdicate, and the whole royal family is placed under arrest in the Alexander Palace. Trapped together in increasingly harsh living conditions, Masha and Alyosha find themselves taking increasing solace in one another's company. The two teenagers, with radically different experiences of Russia, of Rasputin, and of Alyosha's parents' unlucky reign, create a private realm of magic and of love, as Masha introduces the young tsarevitch to a wild and beautiful land he will never live to rule.
An unusual, gorgeously told love story, and a rich tapestry of unparalleled storytelling, Enchantments brings to life the final days of Rasputin and the Romanovs. It is a breathtaking tour-de-force by one of our most acclaimed writers.

Tides of War by Stella Tillyard (2011)
Pages: 384

An epic novel about love and war, set in Regency England and Spain during the Peninsular War [masked]), by the acclaimed historian and bestselling author of Aristocrats.
Tides of War opens in England with the recently married, charmingly unconventional Harriet preparing to say goodbye to her husband, James, as he leaves to join the Duke of Wellington's troops in Spain. Harriet and James's interwoven stories of love and betrayal propel this sweeping and dramatic novel as it moves between Regency London on the cusp of modernity - a city in love with science, the machine, money - and the shocking violence of war in Spain.

Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by Stella Duffy (2010)
Pages: 352

"Justinian took a wife: and the manner she was born and bred, and wedded to this man, tore up the Roman Empire by the very roots", Procopius.
Charming, charismatic, heroic - Theodora of Constantinople rose from nothing to become the most powerful woman in the history of Byzantine Rome. In Stella Duffy's breathtaking new novel, she comes to life again - a fascinating, controversial and seductive woman. Some called her a saint. Others were not so kind... When her father is killed, the young Theodora is forced into near slavery to survive. But just as she learns to control her body as a dancer, and for the men who can afford her, so she is determined to shape a very different fate for herself. From the vibrant streets and erotic stage shows of sixth century Constantinople to the holy desert retreats of Alexandria, Theodora is an extraordinary imaginative achievement from one of our finest writers.

The Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle (2010)
Pages: 400

It's Florence, 1944. As the Nazis begin to face defeat, they cling on to their former ally - Italy, raining down oppression and brutal punishment on any who dare defy their increasingly desperate control. Now, as the liberation of the city seems finally within reach, one family - the Camaccios - and their Partisan friends, will risk everything to make a radio broadcast, hoping to pass vital information to the allies. But as the group convenes in a secret location, there is the sound of heavy footsteps on the stairs. They have been betrayed...In modern day Florence, the new Director of Elite Policing - Inspector Pallioti - is called to oversee the investigation into a most shocking crime. A recently decorated Partisan hero has been discovered dead in his apartment, a bullet wound to his head and his mouth stuffed with salt. Later, another former Partisan is found murdered in the same brutal, unnerving way. During the course of the investigation, Pallioti finds the old wartime diary of Caterina Camaccio. Increasingly drawn into Caterina's tale of love, longing, heroism and ultimately treachery, Pallioti gradually discovers the dark secrets in Florence's bloody history and begins to realise that the past really does inform the present. For it is Caterina herself who will lead him to the shocking truth behind these bloody murders...

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