John Gower is commissioned by Geoffrey Chaucer with a very vague and mysterious mission-find a book of songs that has gone missing. He is intrigued by the mission, but he has no idea how deep the plot will go until bodies begin to pile up. What is in this book that seems to be traveling in London’s underground? Does it have the power to set in motion terrible events, including the death of King Richard II? The more Gower learns, the more danger builds up around him. The surprise arrival of his formerly exiled son makes for very suspicious timing amid it all-how do all of these events tie together? What is the connection between a dead Lady in the woods, a handful of prostitutes, the famous Geoffrey Chaucer, a group of butchers, and his majesty, the King of England? Only the book will reveal all-and someone is killing to get their hands on it. Can Gower solve the mystery before the ultimate crime occurs?
This novel portrays 1300s London in a very harsh light-nothing is sugar coated, so if you are looking for something pleasant and romantic, this is not the book for you. The language, while probably very accurate, is a lot to take in, especially from the mouths of the prostitutes and the men who commission them. All in all, however, this novel is great suspense fiction, and an incredibly detailed account of what life might have been like during the time of Chaucer. If you enjoyed The Bones of Avalon, by Phil Rickman, you will want to pick up A Burnable Book, by Bruce Holsinger.
Downton Abbey lovers, don’t miss Rutherford Park, by Elizabeth Cooke! This novel takes place in 1913, when Lady Octavia Cavendish learns a painful secret about her own husband on the same night that a servant in the house attempts suicide. Rutherford Park will never be the same place again as the family struggles to stay together amid turmoil and changing times.
Will Lady Cavendish find happiness for once and for all, or will she settle for what she has always had and accept her fate? Will her son come clean to his parents about his own deep dark secrets? Will her daughter be allowed to marry for love? And what about the servants of the house-will they stay on at Rutherford as things change around them? If you love historical fiction, especially of the early 1900s era, you will adore Rutherford Park.
Kate has finally escaped from her miserable life and found the man of her dreams (on the internet, of course), and after a passionate courting, she finds herself married and moving to Iowa to be the lady of his farmhouse. Except when she arrives, she has a rude awakening. Her new husband Joe wasn’t as forthcoming about his living situation as she would have desired. Her marriage is off to a very rocky start, people keep insinuating that her home is haunted, and she is about to learn that the wives of Braxton County face struggles that she never could have imagined, going back generation after generation.
Can Kate solve the mystery of the farmhouse and the murder that once occurred within its walls? Will she face the same fate as the previous owners? Is the family cursed? Can she find her place in Braxton County, or will she be defeated? What secrets are locked away, just out of Kate’s reach?
The Widows of Braxton County, by Jess McConkey, is a novel about old family secrets, the trials of marriage and the complicated relationships between women, and asks a very serious question : Is it possible for a man to avoid becoming his own father, in the end?
A newly divorced art dealer has been commissioned to write a book about renowned artist Charles Aubrey, and he decides to travel to the town where the artist spent summers with his exotic mistress and two daughters, to see if he can find information that will set his book apart from all others. He finds Mitzy Hatcher, who claims to have been in a relationship with Charles Aubrey one summer before tragedy struck and he went off to fight in the war.
The quaint little fishing village seems to be full of secrets, however, and the locals are less than welcoming towards outsiders, especially outsiders who ask a lot of very personal questions about long-standing residents.
Traveling between the present and the past, lacing together the generations, A Half Forgotten Song, by Katherine Webb, is full of mystery and suspense, and just enough historical fiction to be perfection. If you loved The Unseen, by the same author, or you adore pretty much any of Kate Morton’s novels (The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, The House at Riverton, The Secret Keeper), you will NOT want to miss this author or her works.
Henry VIII was a temperamental and hot-headed ruler, and his series of wives is only one aspect of the tumultuous times portrayed in Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel. The public has gone mad for the HBO series The Tudors, and the Philippa Gregory novels written about Henry’s many wives and his very famous daughters (The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Boleyn Inheritance, The Queen’s Fool, The Virgin’s Lover, The Other Queen), and much more in television and literature devoted to The Tudors’ story.
Unlike HBO’s version and even Philippa Gregory’s stories, this series, the Thomas Cromwell Trilogy, delves deeply into the politics of the time and what it would have been like to survive with a tempestuous king and his tempestuous mistress (soon to be wife) Anne Boleyn, keep your nose clean while juggling your own religious views to satisfy the crown, and be a high-profile person in changing times that took as many lives as it spared. Wolf Hall is not a “sexy” novel by any means, so don’t expect intrigue and romance in this novel. This is a very serious account, dealing with martyrdom and the deaths of many people who may not have deserved their fates. Be warned.
Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter Beatrice was her best companion when her other daughters had long been married off. Approaching 30, Beatrice had long been considered a spinster. Suddenly, however, two gentlemen have appeared, both of which are suddenly interested in the woman : dashing nobleman Harry Battenberg, and a mysterious new stableman from Scotland who saved her from bandits while she rode her horse. Unfortunately, the Queen has no interest in losing her daughter to the hands of man, instead opting to keep her chaste and protected, and by her side for the rest of time.
Beatrice is torn like she has never been torn before. She wants to have her own life, and make her own decisions, and she very much wants Harry Battenberg, a man who seems to understand her deeply and appreciate her, and who has asked for her hand in marriage. But when Victoria refuses to give her blessing to Harry Battenberg and banishes him from the kingdom, and Beatrice receives no word from him about his intentions or affections following the event, the handsome stableman begins to seem much more charming and attractive. But where does he come from and what are his secrets? What are his intentions? Something dark looms overhead, but Beatrice is too naive to anticipate the shock she is about to receive.
Seducing the Princess, by Mary Hart Perry, is a historical novel set in Victorian England (obviously) and will be greatly appreciated by just about anyone who enjoys a good historical romance. The novel also has very little in the way of lewd sexuality, I would even hesitate to call it a bodice ripper, consummated love is alluded to, but never written out descriptively. The author also wrote The Wild Princess, which is about Victoria’s daughter, Louise. These novels take creative liberty to add adventure to facts already known about the princesses (although the author admits that they are strictly fictional). Readers who like Phillipa Gregory or similar authors will truly enjoy Mary Hart Perry. Don’t hesitate, pick it up!
Edward Glyver grew up believing himself to be the son of an authoress and a drunkard, living in near poverty, with no title or status in society. Upon the death of his mother, however, he discovers in her diary that his origins are actually much more scandalous and that he may actually be entitled to much more in life. Before he can claim his status in the world, especially with his true-blood family, he is going to need proof to back up his (and his dead mother’s) claims. So Edward sets out to find solid evidence of his birth and birthright for once and for all, leaving behind his entire life and following leads obsessively. He learns that an old schoolmate-turned-enemy is standing between him and what is rightfully his, and he realizes that by whatever means necessary, his arch-nemesis must be “removed” from the equation.
The Meaning of Night, by Michael Cox, is a novel of obsession turned psychosis, set in Victorian London. If you love fiction set in the Victorian period, especially of the mystery variety, you will enjoy this novel, but don’t expect the hero to be what you generally expect…This is a tale that smudges the line between protagonist and antagonist, turning the best of men into criminals and making light of serious crimes throughout. The reader will end this book shaking his head and blinking, trying to figure out the puzzle that is this novel, which plays with your sympathies and confuses your sensibilities. Can you feel sorry for a murderer?
Lucy Campion is a seventeenth century chambermaid with a very simple life…She does her chores for her master, the magistrate, and keeps a low profile. When a gruesome murder occurs nearby and no one knows who could be the murderer, and her closest friend, a lady’s maid who has designs on Lucy’s brother, turns up missing, and Lucy’s brother is arrested for the crime, she decides to take it upon herself to find the clues that the officials have missed in the case.
With the help of Adam, the son of the magistrate, and a few helpful sources along the way, Lucy is starting to put together the pieces, slowly but surely…But not before the plague strikes her household and throws her completely off the scent. Will she discover who killed the servant girls before the killer realizes that she is on his track? Is the killer right under her nose?
This is a historical mystery, and anyone who enjoys these novels, like The Hangman in the Mirror by Kate Cayley, The Midwife’s Revolt by Jodi Daynard , or ‘An Unmarked Grave’ by Charles Todd, or anything in the historical mystery realm (Anne Perry, etc), you won’t want to miss this novel, which is easy to read and a great choice for your next weekend at home.
Flavia De Luce is back in this 5th novel in the Flavia De Luce series, which some of you may know is about a precocious young girl who is in love with crime solving and chemistry, and who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Historians are coming to Bishop’s Lacey to dig up the remains of a Saint who is buried there, and Flavia can’t stay away-of course, the dead body of a church member wasn’t something she was expecting to sight when they opened the tomb. A murderer is at large, quite possibly a church member she sees every sunday, and a stranger has come into town who shares her love of botany and detective work, and somehow knows her father from deep in his murky past.
Who is the killer? Is Bishop’s Lacey safe? Does the murderer have unfinished business? Strange things are happening about town, and strange characters are around every corner. With Flavia on the job, however, things are sure to sort themselves out in the most entertaining way possible.
These Alan Bradley novels are humorous and a little dark, and the cast of characters in the novels is rich and diverse, creating a novel full of entertainment that will entertain mystery-loving anglophiles world-wide. If you have read other novels of the Flavia De Luce series, the 5th installment, Speaking from Among the Bones will not disappoint. If you have not read the novels, you can definitely start them out of order, but I would recommend starting with the first novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and working your way through.
Rowena, Victoria and Prudence are 3 young ladies with modern ideas, trapped in a world of strict, old-fashioned social requirements. They grew up relatively protected from the harsh class system, cozy together, despite the fact that Prudence was actually the daughter of the governess who raised Rowena and Victoria. When the master of the household passes away, the girls are left with only one protector in a world that frowned upon independent females-an enterprising uncle whose household is run with much more structure and discipline and awareness of social faux pas. When the girls are forced to move into his country home after he decides to let out the house to someone else to save expenses, the girls are forced to follow the rules of their new home.
Prudence, the friend and pseudo-sister to Rowena and Victoria, is suddenly forced into the position of ladies’ maid to the girls, due to her low birth in the social strata. With no other obvious options, she must suddenly explore the world of servitude, and finds that she doesn’t belong anywhere anymore. As the other girls settle into a new life with their uncle, despite reservations about their friend’s new situation, Prudence must set out to find out the truth about her own mother, the history of her family, and where she belongs in the world-and it is a journey filled with blood, sweat and tears, and scandal around every corner.
Summerset Abbey is the first in the Summerset Abbey Trilogy, written by T.J. Brown. If you love historical fiction of the Downton Abbey or Jane Austen variety, you will adore this novel immensely-and keep an eye out for the second novel in the series, A Bloom in Winter.