Showing posts from October, 2014

Friday Feature Author Caroline Sandon

Caroline's debut novel Burnt Norton now available in paperback from Head of Zeus is based on her own home and it's fascinating past. 
Gloucestershire, 1731. When his youngest son is killed in a tragic accident, Sir William Keyt, master of Norton House, busies himself in his fortune. The building of a second mansion on his grounds defies expense
and denies mortality; an emblem of the Keyt name for generations to come. Keyt can tolerate no obstacle to his desires - including his eldest son's love for a young maidservant. Molly Johnson has captured the heart of the heir to Norton House, dividing the household and the family she serves. Driven mad with lust and jealousy, Keyt sets about to destroy Molly's honour and her spirit, breaking the heart of his son, and ultimately, bringing about the ruin of his family. When the worlds above and below stairs collide, a family is destroyed, and a once-grand house is reduced to rubble. This is the tragic story of Burnt Nor…

The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson

This novel marks the debut of an incredibly talented new novelist. The Devil in the Marshalsea is both an excellent whodunnit and an incredible work of historical fiction. It's no surprise then that Antonia won the CWA Historical Dagger. Tom Hawkins is a wonderful creation, young, handsome, arrogant an inveterate gambler and drinker. After he is robbed and beaten he is unable to pay his debts and ends up in the Marshalsea debtors prison. He has asked his friend upright citizen Rev Charles Buckley to help him and Charles has returned with a deal from his patron Sir Philip Meadows who is the Knight Marshal and runs the gaol, an inmate has been murdered and Sir Philip wants Tom to discover the killer. However Tom must be careful because his new cellmate is everybody's prime suspect. As further deaths occur and Tom discovers at first hand the depredation and cruelty in the Marshalsea he must uncover the killer before he becomes the next victim.Tom will learn a great deal about th…

Ace, King, Knave by Maria McCann

Maria McCann has with this latest novel moved from the seventeenth century of her earlier novels As Meat Loves Salt (2001) and The Wilding (2010) to the filthy gin soaked streets of eighteenth century London. Wemeet two heroines; delicate newly married Sophia and hard as nails Betsy-Ann; a former prostitute now a gambler and dealer in stolen goods. The two women live just miles apart but their lives are in stark contrast. Maria McCann has brought the past vividly to life. The depth and breadth of her research is in evidence on every page without ever overwhelming the narrative. The two woman are wonderfully drawn characters and the plot is well paced though the connection between the women quickly becomes obvious. If you read and loved The Devil in the Marshalsea then you will love this book.  Ace,King,Knave is available in paperback from Faber now. Thanks to for a review copy.

A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher

A Little in Love is based on a very familiar story, which many will know from the stage and screen adaptations of Les Miserables. Although I'm sure there are many out there who have tackled Victor Hugo's massive and epic novel, I must admit I have never attempted it. My fifteen year old daughter is currently reading it,so perhaps one day I will. Susan Fletcher's retelling through the eyes of Eponine is much more approachable. It offers YA readers a great introduction to a literary classic as well as a fascinating glimpse into a tumultuous period in French history. Eponine is a wonderful character; she is the daughter of two selfish and thoughtless thieves and she is taught to steal almost from birth yet she transforms herself into a heroine. Her story is tragic and there is no happy ending, the author addresses the heroine's tragic death in the first page but nonetheless we want to read on,to hear her tell her story in her own voice. As a study in character developmen…

Frost Hollow Hall

Frost Hollow Hall is a delightful debut novel from a talented new voice in historical fiction for children. Despite the spooky nature of the tale – including the icy lake, the haunted halls and the crockery which moves across the room by itself – Frost Hollow Hall is a cosy and satisfying read. Emma Carroll has created a down-to-earth and assured narrator in Tilly, who is rescued from the lake after a skating accident by Kit Barrington – even though he’s been dead for ten years. Tilly is sure there is a reason his spirit is not at rest, and she is determined to find out what. Betrayed by her own family's disbelief, when Tilly's friend Will Potter refuses to believe her, Tilly takes a job as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall and finds a house still in mourning after a decade of loss – as well as a vengeful spirit who frightens the staff. Tilly has a mystery to unravel and she’ll do it with or without Will Potter. This is a charming story which, despite dealing with dark themes of gri…

Friday Feature Author Emma Carroll

Apologies for missing last week but I have returned to feature a wonderful writer for children the very lovely and very talented Emma Carroll. I have to say I love Emma's book choices. You can get both of Emma's brilliant books in paperback in all good bookshops now and you can read my review of Frost Hollow Hall HERE
When she isn’t writing, Emma Carroll teaches English part-time at a secondary school in Devon. She has also worked as a news reporter, an avocado picker and the person who punches holes into filofax paper. She graduated with distinction from Bath Spa University’s MA in Writing For Young People. ‘Frost Hollow Hall’ is Emma’s debut novel for Faber and won the North East Book Award. Her second novel, ‘The Girl Who Walked On Air’ is set in a Victorian circus. In another life she wishes she’d written ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier. Emma lives in the Somerset hills with her husband and two terriers. You can find out more about Emma at her blog http://emmacarrollauthor…

Blog Tour For A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher

This little beauty of a book was published last Thursday and the author very kindly found time to answer a few questions. Thanks so much Susan. 

Re: The Broken Heart of 1. Have you always been a fan of Les Misérables? and wanted to write about the characters?

I knew the book (an abridged version) and the film – and loved both. But it had never occurred to me to write Eponine’s tale, or anyone one else’s. Then Chicken House approached me with the idea of giving Eponine a voice for the YA market – and I just thought it was a wonderful idea. She was the character that had intrigued me the most, in both the book and the play; to have the chance to tell her tale was a gift. I said yes straight away!
2. What draws you to writing about the past?
This is only the second historical novel that I’ve written but it’s a genre I’m certainly fascinated with. I think what I love most of all is the simple truth that humans do not change. Our circumstances might, and we might gain more knowledge and more sk…

Friday Feature Author Antonia Hodgson

I am so sorry I am late with the Friday Feature this week but better late than never and I am delighted to have had award winning and bestselling author Antonia Hodgson agree to take part. Antonia's debut The Devil in the Marshalsea has won The CWA Historical Dagger award and is featuring in The Waterstones and the Richard and Judy bookclubs. 
The book is a riveting tale set in London's Marshalsea prison for debtors in 1727. So we have moved on less than twenty years from the world of last week's featured book but a world away from the isolated Ulster Scots community to the filth, noise and bustle of London.

1. Do you plan the story first and then do the research or does reading and research spark ideas.

The initial spark always seems to come from the research - at least is has done for the first two books I’ve written, and I’m just starting to think about the third! It’s quite intuitive - and is also driven in part by character. Tom Hawkins, my protagonist, is a ri…

The Royalist by S J Deas

The Royalist is the first in a new series of historical crime novels from a bestselling fantasy author. The fate of William Falkland; farmer and soldier in the King’s army seems to be sealed. He awaits the hangman’s pleasure in Newgate prison far from his West Country home and family. He is finally taken from the prison, to his surprise, not to his death but to a meeting with Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell promises to spare Falkland if he will turn investigator for him and travel to the New Model Army’s winter camp where a number of young boys have died in mysterious circumstances. Deas writes at a furious pace and we are soon caught up the mystery of the young men’s deaths. However it is his wonderful description and his creation of a powerfully charged atmosphere that really capture the reader; the sights, smells and the freezing cold of a snow bound village, the claustrophobic feeling of a town that has been invaded, the fear of the local people, the hunger of the scrawny barefoot child…