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 meetup is on Monday 9 June to discuss "Burial Rites” by Hannah Kent. Please RSVP when you get a chance if you haven't done so yet. Details here:
Note that we will announce the new venue as soon as possible, but it will be in central London.
After that, we will meet on Monday 21 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. It can be accessed from the link below or from the "More" tab at the top of the group's webpage.
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 July read.
I will close the poll in about ten days' time.
Thanks and happy reading
Augustus by John Williams (1972)
A brilliant and beautifully written novel in the tradition of Robert Graves' I, Claudius, Augustus is a sweeping narrative that brings vividly to life a compelling cast of historical figures through their letters, dispatches, and memoirs.
A mere eighteen years of age when his uncle, Julius Caesar, is murdered, Octavius Caesar prematurely inherits rule of the Roman Republic. Surrounded by men who are jockeying for power - Cicero, Brutus, Cassius, and Mark Antony - young Octavius must work against the powerful Roman political machinations to claim his destiny as first Roman emperor. Sprung from meticulous research and the pen of a true poet, Augustus tells the story of one man's dream to liberate a corrupt Rome from the fancy of the capriciously crooked and the wildly wealthy.
Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant (2013)
By the end of the fifteenth century, the beauty and creativity of Italy is matched by its brutality and corruption, nowhere more than in Rome and inside the Church. When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia buys his way into the papacy as Alexander VI, he is defined not just by his wealth or his passionate love for his illegitimate children, but by his blood: He is a Spanish Pope in a city run by Italians. If the Borgias are to triumph, this charismatic, consummate politician with a huge appetite for life, women, and power must use papacy and family - in particular, his eldest son, Cesare, and his daughter Lucrezia - in order to succeed.
Cesare, with a dazzlingly cold intelligence and an even colder soul, is his greatest - though increasingly unstable - weapon. Later immortalized in Machiavelli's The Prince, he provides the energy and the muscle. Lucrezia, beloved by both men, is the prime dynastic tool. Twelve years old when the novel opens, hers is a journey through three marriages, and from childish innocence to painful experience, from pawn to political player.
Fair Helen by Andrew Greig (2013)
The Scottish Borderlands, 1590s. Harry Langton is called back to the country of his childhood to aide an old friend, Adam Fleming, who believes his life is in danger. He's fallen for Helen of Annandale and, in turn, fallen foul of her rival, Robert Bell: a man as violent as he is influential. In a land where minor lairds vie for power and blood feuds are settled by the sword, Fleming faces a battle to win Helen's hand.
Entrusted as guard to the lovers' secret trysts, Langton is thrust into the middle of a dangerous triangle; and discovers Helen is not so chaste as she is fair. But Langton has his own secrets to keep - and other friends to serve. Someone has noticed his connections, and recruited him in their bid to control the hierarchy of the Border families; someone who would use lovers as pawns in a game of war.
Saltire Award-winning author Andrew Greig reimagines the Border Ballad Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lea as a dark romance and stirring adventure. Often called the Scottish Romeo & Juliet, here it is re-presented as the source of an equally famed, more complex drama.
The Foundling Boy by Michel Déon (1975)
(translated from French)
French version “Le Jeune Homme Vert” also available:
It is 1919. On a summer's night in Normandy, a new-born baby is left in a basket outside the home of Albert and Jeanne Arnaud. The childless couple take the foundling in, name him Jean, and decide to raise him as their own, though his parentage remains a mystery. Though Jean's life is never dull, he grows up knowing little of what lies beyond his local area. Until the day he sets off on his bicycle to discover the world, and encounters a Europe on the threshold of interesting times...
The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard (1988)
The Cazalet Chronicles Book 1
Home Place, Sussex, 1937. The English family at home. For two unforgettable summers the Cazalet family gathered together, safe from the advancing storm clouds of war. In the heart of the Sussex countryside these were still sunlit days of children's games, lavish family meals and picnics on the beach. The three generations of Cazalets are all lovingly portrayed and the fascinating tangle of their lives recreates a vanished historical world.