London Historical Fiction Book Group Message Board › London Historical Fiction Book Group - Help choose our book for October
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 2 September to discuss "The English Monster” by Lloyd Shepherd. Please RSVP when you get a chance if you haven't done so yet. If you have already said you're coming, please keep your attendance status up to date as your plans change. Details here:
After that, we will meet on Monday 21 October and it's time to choose the book for that.
I've created a poll for everyone to vote on the October 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 in about a week’s time.
Thanks and happy reading
The Kingdom of the Wicked by Anthony Burgess (1980)
A novel about the early days of Christianity. “Who, I ask you, wants to drag his bones out of the earth, reclothed in flesh which, in some foul magic of reversal, is regurgitated by the worms, in order that his eyes may see God? Who, I ask you, wants to live for ever?” Sadoc son of Azor, a retired shipping clerk lying diseased and dying on the outreaches of the Roman Empire, sets down for future generations a tale of epic proportions: he is charged with recounting no less an event than the birth of Christianity. And what an account it is - the story of a religion of love, born into the cruelties of the kingdom of the wicked. The Kingdom of the Wicked is one of Anthony Burgess's most ambitious novels. Its ancient setting, recreated in vivid and meticulous detail, is rendered new in this stunning account of the Roman Empire and its clashes with Christianity.
The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock (1979)
The first book in the Greville Family series. Before Downton Abbey, there was Abingdon Pryory, the elegant country home of the Grevilles - a titled English family who, along with their servants, see their world turned upside down when England goes to war - and their well-kept lawns and whirling social seasons give way to the horrors of battle leaving no one, upstairs or downstairs, untouched.
Death and the Devil by Frank Schätzing (2007)
(translated from German)
It's the year 1260 and the great cathedral - the most ambitious building in all of Christendom - is rising above the streets of Cologne. Far below its soaring spires and flying buttresses, an assassin of unnatural talent surveys his new hunting ground. More shadow than man, the assassin is quick to take his first life. But there is a witness to his crime: a flame-haired thief known as Jacob the Fox. Justly terrified by the black-clad spectre, Jacob runs for his life, convinced that he's pursued by the Angel of Death itself. For all his street-smart cunning, the wily Fox cannot shake off the assassin - a cruel, efficient murderer who favours a pistol-grip crossbow as his weapon of choice. Fate, injury and desperation lead Jacob to seek help from a beautiful clothes dyer, her drunken rascal of a father, and her learned uncle, a man of God who loves a battle of wits almost as much as he loves a bottle of wine. With the threat of an untimely death at the end of a crossbow bolt never far way, Jacob's unlikely cabal find themselves faced with a conspiracy born of an unquenchable thirst for revenge, a conspiracy that threatens to tear Cologne apart and stain the city with blood.
Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain (1886)
(various editions; plus free on Kindle - two volumes - if you search)
This is Twain’s recounting of the life of Joan of Arc, a historical figure with whom the author was deeply fascinated. While Twain’s take on the martyr has been dismissed by some critics as heavily romanticized, he considered it to be his finest work. The last of his novels to be completed, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc is an excellent read for anyone hoping to experience Twain at the height of his maturity.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (2012)
Two young women become unlikely best friends during WWII, until one is captured by the Gestapo. Only in wartime could a stalwart lass from Manchester rub shoulders with a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a special operations executive. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted to each other. But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. She is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in "Verity's" own words, as she writes her account for her captors. Truth or lies? Honour or betrayal? Everything they've ever believed in is put to the test...