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London Historical Fiction Book Group Message Board › London Historical Fiction Book Group - Help choose our book for January

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

user 7750145
Group Organizer
London, GB
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. And looking forward to seeing some of the new faces from last time again!

December meetup
Our next meetup is on Monday 2 December to discuss "The Garden of Evening Mists” by Tan Twan Eng. Please RSVP when you get a chance if you haven't done so yet. Details here:­
We are also going out for dinner after this meetup as an early Xmas meal, but please RSVP to that separately asap:­
You can come just for the book group or just for the dinner (if you didn't read the book). Or both. Just let us know your plans!
(Also, desperately need suggestions for where to eat locally - as I've not had time to arrange!)

January meetup
After that, we will meet on Monday 27 January 2014 (NB. changed from 20 January) and it's time to choose the book for that.

I've created a poll for everyone to vote on the January book from the shortlist detailed below.
Please go to the Polls section to vote.­

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 January read.
I will close the poll in about a week’s time.

Thanks and happy reading


Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch (2011)
Pages: 352­

It is London, 1857. Jaffy Brown is running through the squalid London backstreets when he comes face to face with the escaped circus animal. His young life is transformed by the encounter. Plucked from the jaws of death by Mr Jamrach - explorer, entrepreneur and collector of the world's strangest creatures - the two strike up a friendship. Before he knows it, Jaffy finds himself on board a ship bound for the South Seas. His job is to be the keeper of the animal they hope to find and bring back alive. So begins an extraordinary voyage. Jaffy's journey - if he survives it - will push faith, love and friendship to their utmost limits. Brilliantly written and utterly spellbinding, Carol Birch's epic novel brings alive the smells, sights and flavours of the nineteenth century, from the docks of London to the storms of the South Seas. This is a great salty historical adventure, and a fascinating exploration of our relationship to the natural world and the wilderness it contains.

An Ice-Cream War by William Boyd (1982)
Pages: 416­
(NB. Not available on Kindle)

An Ice-Cream War is William Boyd's hilarious bestselling novel of love and battle.
'We will all melt like ice-cream in the sun!' British soldier, East Africa, October 1914
As millions are slaughtered on the Western Front, a ridiculous and little-reported campaign is being waged in East Africa - a war they continued after the Armistice because no one told them to stop.
Primarily a gripping story of the men and women swept up by the passions of love and battle, William Boyd's magnificently entertaining novel also elicits the cruel futility and tragedy of it all.

The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau (2012)
Pages: 400­

London, May 1537. As those closest to the throne are locked in a fierce fight against those desperate to save England's monasteries from destruction, young Joanna Stafford faces a far more personal battle. When Joanna learns her cousin is about to be burned at the stake for rebelling against Henry VIII, she makes a decision that will change not only her life, but quite possibly the fate of a nation. From the Tower of London, to secret assignations and from Stonehenge to the royal court - Joanna becomes entangled with a secret whose deadly past stretches farther back than anyone had imagined.

Imposture by Benjamin Markovits (2007)
Pages: 224­

The first book in the Byron trilogy. Having been dismissed from Lord Byron's service, Dr John Polidori had fallen on hard times. Three years earlier he had accompanied the poet on a tour of the continent, Polidori had held literary ambitions and wanted to test his talents against the greatest writer of his age. That summer had become famous in literary history, Byron and Shelley met and grew into friends, Mary Shelley wrote "Frankenstein". And now a young woman mistakes the doctor for the poet. As the pair fall in love, Polidori knows that he can only emerge from Byron's shadow if he confesses his true identity to the deluded girl; but was it only Byron's shadow that led her to love him in the first place? And a ghost story, "The Vampyre", is published under Byron's name, but will the truth of the matter be uncovered?

The Last Caesar by Henry Venmore-Rowland (2012)
Pages: 432­

AD 68. The tyrant emperor Nero has no son and no heir. Suddenly there's the very real possibility that Rome might become a republic once more. But the ambitions of a few are about to bring corruption, chaos and untold bloodshed to the many. Among them is a hero of the campaign against Boudicca, Aulus Caecina Severus. Severus looks back on the dark and dangerous time history knows as the Year of the Four Emperors, and the part he played - for good or ill - in plunging the mighty Roman empire into anarchy and civil war...
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