London Historical Fiction Book Group Message Board › London Historical Fiction Book Group: Help choose our book for July!
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 regular book discussion meetup is on Monday 3 June to discuss "The Winter Palace" by Eva Stachniak. Please RSVP when you get a chance if you haven't done so yet. Details here:
Before that, we have a social-only meetup this coming Monday 20 May. Details here:
It's never too late to RSVP and come along. Please remember to adjust your RSVP as your circumstances change.
Looking ahead, we will meet again on Monday 22 July and it's time to choose the book for that.
I've created a poll for everyone to vote on the July book from the shortlist detailed below.
Please go to the Polls section to vote.
Below are details of each of the shortlisted books. Please have a look at the books and then go to the poll (see above) where you should score each book out of 10, reflecting your interest in reading it. The most popular one will be our July read.
I will close the poll in a week or so.
Thanks, happy reading and hope to see you soon.
Any questions, drop me a line.
The Iron King by Maurice Druon
(translated from French, Le roi de fer, first published in 1956; 2013 reissue)
The first in the classic series of medieval French historical novels that was apparently the inspiration for The Game of Thrones. The Iron King – Philip the Fair – is as cold and silent, as handsome and unblinking as a statue. He governs his realm with an iron hand, but he cannot rule his own family: his sons are weak and their wives adulterous; while his red-blooded daughter Isabella is unhappily married to an English king who prefers the company of men. A web of scandal, murder and intrigue is weaving itself around the Iron King; but his downfall will come from an unexpected quarter. Bent on the persecution of the rich and powerful Knights Templar, Philip sentences Grand Master Jacques Molay to be burned at the stake, thus drawing down upon himself a curse that will destroy his entire dynasty…
The Watermen by Patrick Easter (2011)
In the dark and slimy streets of Wapping a prostitute is beaten half to death, a not uncommon fate in late 18th century London. So begins this gripping tale set in 1798 in the Port of London: a cruel villain holds sway over the underworld. His name is Boylin. His face is scarred by lime and his back by the two hundred lashes he received following a naval court martial. He holds Captain Tom Pascoe responsible for his suffering. They meet again when Pascoe becomes River Surveyor for the newly formed marine police. They've had orders to investigate a sudden fall in government revenue that is affecting the nation's ability to fight the war against Napoleon and stem the rising tide of Irish rebellion. Pascoe knows that Boylin is behind it, but he can't prove anything, yet. THE WATERMEN follows these two adversaries across London as they try to outwit one another. Working alongside Pascoe is Sam Hart, a Jewish immigrant with his own agenda, Pascoe throws the rule-book out the window, scouring East London and the docklands in search of information. But fate takes a cruel twist when the two men find themselves involved with the same woman - there's much more at stake than the fate of the nation.
The Reinvention of Love by Helen Humphreys (2011)
When Charles Saint-Beuve, a French literary journalist met Victor Hugo, an ambitious young writer who intended to become famous, he was swept into a world of grand emotions, a world where words can become swords. But it is not Victor he is really attracted to - it is his wife Adele. Soon the two lovers are on the edge of a great scandal and a wounded Victor must exact his price for betrayal, a price that will change the lives of many, including his own children. As Saint-Beuve - a man like no other man - struggles to hold on to what is left of his great love, he finds that only words can rekindle the flame. Set during the tumultuous reign of Napoleon III, this mesmerising novel draws a rich portrait of old Paris, where duels were fought and cholera-ridden bodies float in the Seine.
Jezebel by Eleanor de Jong (2012)
Set against the sweeping backdrop of the ancient Holy Land, Jezebel is a tale of love, loss and deceit - and one woman's struggle to survive in a land filled with rivals plotting her downfall! Her name is iconic. Her courage extraordinary. Her story remarkable. Jezebel, a young princess of Tyre is destined to be married to King Ahab of Israel. Yet she is determined to rule her own life and begins an illicit affair with Jehu, a visiting prince at court. Years pass and Jehu, unable to relinquish his love for Jezebel grows bitter and twisted. But he is unaware of Jezebel's greatest secret -- that he is father to her eldest son Ahaziah, the heir to Israel's throne. With the King's health deteriorating, Jezebel gradually assumes control of Israel but hatred of her is spreading across the land, fanned by the prophet Elijah and his aide, the terrifying Elisha. As they plot her downfall, Jezebel must find her inner strength and fight for her beliefs against all odds. Set against the sweeping backdrop of the Holy Land comes an epic tale of one of the most courageous and controversial women of all time. Jezebel will enthral fans of The Red Tent and The Borgia Bride.
Azazeel by Youssef Ziedan (2012)
Set in the 5th century AD, Azazeel is the exquisitely crafted tale of a Coptic monk's journey from Upper Egypt to Alexandria and then Syria during a time of massive upheaval in the early Church. Winner of the Arab Booker Prize, Azazeel highlights how the history of our civilization has been warped by greed and avarice since its very beginnings and how one man's beliefs are challenged not only by the malice of the devil, but by the corruption with the early Church. In sparse and often sparkling prose that reflects the arid beauty of the Syrian landscape, Azazeel is a novel that forces us to re-think many of our long-held beliefs and invites us to rediscover a lost history.