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London Historical Fiction Book Group - Help choose our book for June

From: Justin
Sent on: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 6:06 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 28 April to discuss "Shadow on the Crown” by Patricia Bracewell. Please RSVP when you get a chance if you haven't done so yet. Details here:
http://www.meetup.com/London-Historical-Fiction-Book-Group/

After that, we will meet on Monday 9 June and it's time to choose the book for that.

I've created a poll for everyone to vote on the June book from the shortlist detailed below.
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 score each book out of 10, indicating your interest in it.
The most popular one will be our June read.
I will close the poll in about ten days' time.

Thanks and happy reading
Justin

--------------------------------

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (2013)
Pages: 384
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Burial-Rites-Hannah-Kent/dp/1447233174/



Description
In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnusdottir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of two men. Agnes is sent to wait out the months leading up to her execution on the farm of district officer Jon Jonsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderess in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes. Only Toti, the young assistant priest appointed her spiritual guardian, will listen to Agnes's side of the story. As the year progresses and the hardships of rural life force everyone to work side by side, the family's attitude to Agnes starts to change, until one winter night, she begins her whispered confession to them, and they realize that all is not as they had assumed.
Based on a true story, Burial Rites is an astonishing and moving novel about the truths we claim to know and the ways in which we interpret what we're told. In beautiful, cut-glass prose, Hannah Kent portrays Iceland's formidable landscape, in which every day is a battle for survival, and asks, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?



The Queen’s Necklace by Antal Szerb (1943)
(translated from Hungarian)
Pages: 320
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Queens-Necklace-Antal-Szerb/dp/1906548617/




Description
In August 1785, Paris buzzed with a scandal that had everything - an eminent churchman, a female fraudster, a part-time prostitute and the hated Queen herself. Its centerpiece was the most expensive diamond necklace ever assembled, and the tangle of fraud, folly, blindness and self-delusion it provoked. The humiliation the affair brought on the royal family contributed to their appalling deaths in the Revolution just four years later. In this unusual, witty and often surprising version of the story, the great Hungarian novelist Antal Szerb takes the narrative as a standpoint from which to survey the entire age - including aspects of it seldom considered by more orthodox historians. The author's vast knowledge is worn very lightly and the book teems with amusing anecdotes, but it is at heart a deeply personal work, a remarkable gesture of defiance against the brutal world in which it was written.




The Secret Life of William Shakespeare by Jude Morgan (2012)
Pages: 464
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Secret-Life-William-Shakespeare/dp/0755358244/



Description
The greatest writer of them all, brought to glorious life. How well do you know the man you love? How much do you think you know about Shakespeare? What if they were one and the same? He is an ordinary man: unwilling craftsman, ambitious actor, resentful son, almost good-enough husband. And he is also a genius. The story of how a glove-maker from Warwickshire became the greatest writer of them all is vaguely known to most of us, but it would take an exceptional modern novelist to bring him to life. And now at last Jude Morgan, acclaimed author of Passion and The Taste of Sorrow, has taken Shakespeare's life, and created a masterpiece.




The Absolutist by John Boyne (2011)
Pages: 432
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Absolutist-John-Boyne/dp/0552775401/



Description
September 1919: twenty-one-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver some letters to Marian Bancroft. Tristan fought alongside Marian's brother Will during the Great War, but in 1917 Will laid down his guns on the battlefield, declared himself a conscientious objector and was shot as a traitor, an act which has brought shame and dishonour on the Bancroft family. But the letters are not the real reason for Tristan's visit. He holds a secret deep in his soul. One that he is desperate to unburden himself of to Marian, if he can only find the courage. As he recalls his friendship with Will, from the training ground at Aldershot to the trenches of Northern France, he speaks of how the intensity of their friendship brought him both happiness and self-discovery as well as despair and pain.



The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (2011)
Pages: 325
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Sisters-Brothers-Patrick-deWitt/dp/1847083196/



Description
Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. Across 1000 miles of Oregon desert his assassins, the notorious Eli and Charlie Sisters, ride - fighting, shooting, and drinking their way to Sacramento. But their prey isn't an easy mark, the road is long and bloody, and somewhere along the path Eli begins to question what he does for a living - and whom he does it for. The Sisters Brothers pays homage to the classic Western, transforming it into an unforgettable ribald tour de force. Filled with a remarkable cast of losers, cheaters, and ne'er-do-wells from all stripes of life-and told by a complex and compelling narrator, it is a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier that beautifully captures the humor, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.

 

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