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Historical Fiction Book Group: Please help choose our next reads

From: Justin
Sent on: Thursday, November 26, 2009 10:10 PM
Hi everyone
Firstly, welcome to anyone who has joined the group recently!
Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our meetup next Thursday to discuss "Affinity".
December Meetup: Affinity by Sarah ?
From the RSVPs so far, there should be a nice group of us. I'll email again a couple of days before the meeting.

In the meantime, it would be good to start choosing our next couple of books.
I've set up a poll for this, so please go to the Polls section to vote whenever you have a chance.
http://www.meetup.com/London-Historical-Fiction-Book-Group/polls/

From the shortlist of eight books, please vote for up to four. The most popular one will be our next read (probably late January?). If the second most popular book also gets plenty of votes, then that will be our read for the meeting after that.
More details on the books follow below. I will close the poll as soon as sufficient people have voted, hopefully in no more than a week to 10 days' time.

Thanks!
Justin

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

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.)


The Great Stink by Clare Clark (2005)
pages: 368; RRP: ?8.99
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Great-Stink-Clare-Clark/dp/014101833X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259168663&sr=1-1

Product Description
William May returns to London after the horrors of the Crimean War. Scarred and fragile though he is, he lands a job at the heart of Bazalgette's transformation of the London sewers. There, in the darkness of the stinking tunnels beneath the rising towers of Victorian London May discovers another side of the city and remembers a disturbing, violent past. And then the corruption of the growing city soon begins to overwhelm him and a violent murder is committed. Will the sewers reveal all and show that the world above ground is even darker and more threatening than the tunnels beneath?

Of Merchants & Heroes by Paul Waters (2008)
Pages: 471; RRP: ?7.99
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Merchants-Heroes-Paul-Waters/dp/0330452673/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259168762&sr=1-1

Product Description
A consuming story of love, loss and redemption set in the classical world of Rome and Greece, "Of Merchants and Heroes" is the story of a young man's pursuit of his father's murderer and of the values and qualities he develops that will make him a man...a man capable of a deep, noble and enduring love. At the end of the third century BC, as Republican Rome's long war with Carthage was at last drawing to a close, it was already threatened by a new enemy, Philip, the tyrant king of Macedon in the east...Into this turbulent world emerges our Roman hero, Marcus, whose father is brutally murdered by pirates on a journey from Italy to Corfu on a visit to his uncle. Fate takes him to some of the great cities of the Greco-Roman world at a time of major turbulence, where he learns much and finds love unexpectedly.

Ross Poldark by Winston Graham (1945)
Pages: c350; RRP: ?7.99
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ross-Poldark-Novel-Cornwall-1783/dp/0330463292/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259169118&sr=1-1

Product Description
The first in the famous Poldark series. Cornwall in the 1780s - when powerful forces of revolution and reaction are at large in the world. Tired from a grim war in America, Ross Poldark returns to his land and his family. But the joyful homecoming he has anticipated turns sour, for his father is dead, his estate is derelict and the girl he loves is engaged to his cousin. But his sympathy for the destitute miners and farmers of the district leads him to rescue a half-starved urchin girl from a fairground brawl and take her home - an act which alters the whole course of his life...


The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles (1980)
Pages: 527; RRP: ?8.99
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Founding-Dynasty-Cynthia-Harrod-Eagles/dp/0751503827/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259169354&sr=1-1

Product Description
Book one of the Morland Dynasty series. Set against the turbulent years of the Wars of the Roses, this book tells the story of the arranged marriage of Robert Morland and Eleanor, ward of the powerful Beaufort family. Robert adores her, but her secret passion is for Richard, Duke of York. In the succeeding volumes of this rich tapestry of English life, we follow their fortunes through war and peace, political upheaval and social revolution, times of pestilence and periods of plenty, and through the vicissitudes which afflict every family - love and passion, envy and betrayal, birth and death, great fortune and miserable penury.


Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick S?skind (1976)
pages: 272; RRP: ?7.99
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfume-Story-Murderer-International-Writers/dp/0140120831/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259168026&sr=1-1

Product Description
Survivor, genius, perfumer, killer: this is Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. He is abandoned on the filthy streets of Paris as a child, but grows up to discover he has an extraordinary gift: a sense of smell more powerful than any other human's. Soon, he is creating the most sublime fragrances in all the city. Yet there is one odor he cannot capture. It is exquisite, magical: the scent of a young virgin. And to get it he must kill. And kill. And kill.


Ship of Rome by John Stack (2009)
Pages: 368; RRP: ?7.99
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ship-Rome-Masters-John-Stack/dp/0007285248/ref=pd_sim_b_9

Product Description
Against a backdrop of the clash of the Roman and Carthaginian empires, the battle for sovereignty takes place on the high seas Atticus, captain of one of the ships of Rome's small, coastal fleet, is from a Greek fishing family. Septimus, legionary commander, reluctantly ordered aboard ship, is from Rome, born into a traditionally army family. It could never be an easy alliance. But the arrival of a hostile fleet, larger, far more skilful and more powerful than any Atticus has encountered before, forces them to act together. So Atticus, one of Rome's few experienced sailors, finds himself propelled into the middle of a political struggle that is completely foreign to him. Rome need to build a navy fast but the obstacles are many; political animosities, legions adamant that they will only use their traditional methods; Roman prejudice even from friends, that all those not born in Rome are inferior citizens. The enemy are first class, experienced and determined to control the seas. Can Atticus, and the fledgling Roman navy, staffed with inexperienced sailors and unwilling legionaries, outwit and outfight his opponents?


The Fraud by Barbara Ewing (2009)
pages: 416; RRP: ?7.99
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fraud-Barbara-Ewing/dp/0751540943/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259168217&sr=1-1

Product Description
1765. Filipo di Vecellio of Florence, portrait painter, is the toast of London: rich, successful, and married to Angelica, known as the most beautiful woman in the city. Their Pall Mall home is the hub of the art world; their impressive social gatherings run so smoothly by Filipo's silent sister, Francesca. But beneath the surface, the house conceals a swarm of dangerous secrets. Where does Francesca di Vecellio go as the sun sets over Covent Garden? And why are there always candles lit in her attic, while no candles burn for her brother's exquisite wife? Within the bustling artistic lives of the di Vecellios hides corruption and lies; love and tragedy. And wild ambition unbalances the capital's art world as, finally, a wonderful portrait battles for the right to paint the truth ...


The Mirror Makers by Clare Colvin (2003)
pages: 288; RRP: ?6.99
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mirror-Makers-Clare-Colvin/dp/0099435063/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259168317&sr=1-1

Product Description
This is a story of love, betrayal and intrigue at the opulent court of Louis XIV, the Sun King. In his quest for unrivalled magnificence in the construction of the royal palace at Versailles, the king sends envoys to Venice to lure the city's best glass workers to move to France for the construction of the great Hall of Mirrors. Thus, Andrea Allegri arrives in Paris, where he soon draws admiration from the king for his imaginative workmanship, and from the ladies of the court for his good looks and charming way of speaking. The French court is enmeshed in gossip, jealousy, intrigue and danger. As a foreigner, Allegri is in a unique position to observe from the outside, though it is not long before his charm and his attraction for Athenais, the king's latest mistress, and her intriguing maid Claudine draws him in. When rumours of poisonings and other dark deeds begin to be investigated by the authorities, it is the foreigners who first come under suspicion, and Allegri suddenly finds himself in very grave danger.

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