The Last Days of Leda Grey
By Essie Fox
'Leda Grey's world is utterly beguiling' THE TIMES Book of the WeekA bewitching novel about an enigmatic silent film actress, and the volatile love affair that left her a recluse for over half a century - for fans of Sarah Waters and Tracy Chevalier.During the oppressive heat wave of 1976 a young journalist, Ed Peters, finds an Edwardian photograph in a junk shop in the seaside town of Brightland. It shows an alluring, dark-haired girl, an actress whose name was Leda Grey.Enchanted by the image, Ed learns Leda Grey is still living - now a recluse in a decaying cliff-top house she once shared with a man named Charles Beauvois, a director of early silent film. As Beauvois's muse and lover, Leda often starred in scenes where stage magic and trick photography were used to astonishing effect. But, while playing a cursed Egyptian queen, the fantasies captured on celluloid were echoed in reality, leaving Leda abandoned and alone for more than half a century - until the secrets of her past result in a shocking climax, more haunting than any to be in found in the silent films of Charles Beauvois.'A richly evocative story, brimming with intrigue and suspense' M.L. Stedman, author of THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS
The Painter of Souls
By Philip Kazan
Beauty can be a gift...or a wicked temptation...So it is for Filippo Lippi, growing up in Renaissance Florence. He has a talent - not only can he see the beauty in everything, he can capture it, paint it. But while beauty can seduce you, and art can transport you - it cannot always feed you or protect you. To survive, Pippo Lippi, orphan, street urchin, budding rogue, must first become Fra Filippo Lippi: Carmelite friar, man of God. His life will take him down two paths at once. He will become a gambler, a forger, a seducer of nuns; and at the same time he will be the greatest painter of his time, the teacher of Botticelli and the confidante of the Medicis.So who is he really - lover, believer, father, teacher, artist? Which man? Which life? Is anything true except the paintings? An extraordinary journey of passion, art and intrigue, The Painter of Souls takes us to a time and place in Italy's history where desire reigns and salvation is found in the strangest of places.
Rage of Ares
By Christian Cameron
Arimnestos of Plataea was one of the heroes of the Battle of Marathon, in which the heroic Greeks halted the invading Persians in their tracks, and fought in the equally celebrated naval battle at Salamis. But even these stunning victories only served to buy the Greeks time, as the Persians gathered a new army, returning with overwhelming force to strike the final killing blow. For the Greeks, divided and outnumbered, there was only one possible strategy: attack. And so, in the blazing summer of 479 BC, Arimnestos took up his spear one final time at the Battle of Plataea.
The Last Debutante
By Lesley Lokko
A captivating family drama about sisters and long-held secrets spanning from the 1930s to the present day, perfect for fans of Downton Abbey. 1936, Chalfont Hall, Dorset, and as the dressmaker puts the last pins in her dress, thirteen-year-old Kit is wondering why she has to go through the charade of seeing her sister Lily presented at Court. With her waves of auburn hair and her piercing green eyes, Kit knows that her sister's place on the social scene is guaranteed regardless of her dress, and as the door to a life of parties and eligible young men opens for Lily, Kit must make do with tiptoeing around the gallery of Chalfont, eavesdropping on the conversations of the grown-ups. But the arrival one evening of a distinctly German visitor soon sets in motion a chain of events that none of the family could have anticipated. Years later, the aftershock of events will be felt by a new generation . . .
Master of Shadows
By Neil Oliver
In fifteenth-century Constantinople, Prince Constantine saves the life of a broken-hearted girl. But the price of his valour is high.John Grant is a young man on the edge of the world. His unique abilities carry him from his home in Scotland to the heart of the Byzantine Empire in search of a girl and the chance to fulfil a death-bed promise.Lena has remained hidden from the men who have been searching for her for many years. When she's hunted down, at last she knows what she must do.With an army amassing beyond the city's ancient walls, the fates of these three will intertwine. As the Siege of Constantinople reaches its climax, each must make a choice between head and heart, duty and destiny.
By Julia Gregson
Oxfordshire, 1947. Exhausted by the war and nursing a tragic secret, Kit Smallwood flees to Wickam Farm to recuperate. There she throws herself into helping Daisy set up a charity sending midwives to India. Daisy's plan is fraught with danger. With newly-acquired Independence, many of India's people furiously resent the English for withdrawing so quickly, blaming them for the riots that left millions dead. When Kit meets Anto, a handsome, complicated but charming trainee doctor nearing the end of his English education, she falls utterly in love. Anto makes her laugh and marriage should be the easiest thing in the world. But when he informs his family that he is shortly to return home with an English bride, his parents are appalled. Despite being Anglo-Indian herself, Kit's own mother is equally horrified. She has spent most of her life trying to erase a painful past and losing her daughter to an Indian man is her worst fear realized. As they journey to a new life in India, Kit begins to realize the seriousness of what she has undertaken. Thrown into the heart of a traditional Indian family in a rapidly changing world, Kit has much to learn about the nature of home and the depth of her love for Anto.
The Small Back Room
By Nigel Balchin
A true modern classic, THE SMALL BACK ROOM is a towering novel of the Second World War.Sammy Rice is a weapons scientist, one of the 'back room boys' of the Second World War. A crippling disability has left him cynical and disillusioned - he struggles with a drink problem at home, and politics and petty pride at work. Worse still, he fears he is not good enough for the woman he loves.The stakes are raised when the enemy begin to drop a new type of booby-trapped bomb, causing many casualties. Only Sammy has the know-how to diffuse it - but as he comes face to face with real danger, all his old inadequacies return to haunt him.Can he, at last, prove his worth and put his demons to rest?
The Kindness of Enemies
By Leila Aboulela
Natasha lives a lonely life, adrift in Scotland and torn between two identities. Born into a Muslim background but desperate to assimilate, she longs for a place to call home. Then she meets Oz. Oz is charismatic and passionate, a star student at the university where Natasha teaches. As their bond deepens, stories from Natasha's research come to life - tales of forbidden love, traded hostages, grieving mothers, and the Court of the Tsar. But conflict emerges far closer to home as the police begin to investigate Oz. When they accuse him of terrorism, Natasha stands to lose everything she has fought to build . . . Moving, epic and beautifully written, THE KINDNESS OF ENEMIES is a story about tolerance, identity and the places we call home.
By Christian Cameron
Arimnestos of Plataea has already lived through several lifetimes' worth of adventure, from being a rich man's slave in Ephesus to winning glory at the battle of Marathon against the might of the Persian Empire. But the gods - and the Persians - aren't finished with him yet. As an experienced sea captain - his enemies might say pirate - he has a part to play in the final epic confrontation of the Long War between the Greeks and Persians, the Battle of Salamis. It is a battle where many debts of blood will be repaid, ancient grudges settled, fame won and treachery exposed, where the Greeks must finally bury their differences and fight as one - for against them Xerxes, the Great King, has assembled the greatest fleet the world has ever known, his sworn purpose to brutally extinguish the flame of freedom and make every Greek his slave.
The Last Crusaders: Ivan the Terrible
By William Napier
Hardened by battle, seasoned by war, four adventurers caught in the path of one of history's most enigmatic leaders.1571. At the great naval battle of Lepanto the Ottoman Empire is finally defeated, and it seems that Europe is safe.But then Nicholas Ingoldsby is summoned to London by the Queen herself and sent on a diplomatic mission to Constantinople, the heart of the old enemy - and then onward, to a little-known but rising power called Muscovy, ruled by a deranged but cunning czar - Ivan the Terrible.The rise of Muscovy has also caught the attention of the Ottomans; and their allies, the wild Tatar horsemen of the Asiatic steppes, Russia's ancient enemy. Soon Nicholas and his fellow travellers are caught up in their most dangerous adventure yet, trapped in a doomed Muscovy with a vast army of Tatar tribesmen riding down upon them, vowed to burn the city to the ground and extinguish Russia for ever...
The Long Sword
By Christian Cameron
'One of the finest historical fiction writers in the world' Ben KanePisa, May 1364. Sir William Gold - newly knighted on the battlefield outside the gates of Florence - can look forward to a lucrative career as a sword for hire in the endless warring between Italy's wealthy city states. But when a message comes from Father Pierre de Thomas, Grand Master of the Order of St John - better known as the Hospitallers - Sir William knows he has no choice but to leave his dreams of fame and fortune behind him.Father Pierre is gathering men across Europe for a crusade, and as a donat of the order, Sir William is pledged to serve him. But before setting out for the Holy Land, Sir William and his companions face deadly adversaries closer to home. In the labyrinthine politics of Italy, not only would some cities rather side with the Saracen than their fellow Christians, but there are powerful princes of the church whose ambitions would be better served if the crusade failed - not to mention two of Sir William's bitterest enemies - the maniacal Bourc le Camus, now in the pay of the ruthless Cardinal Robert of Geneva, and the Count D'Herblay, husband of the woman who still holds Sir William's heart. With assassins and conspirators on all sides, Sir William and his band of knights must overcome overwhelming odds - but if they survive, can the crusade be anything more than a suicide mission?
The Goddess and the Thief
By Essie Fox
'A fabulous foray into a shadowy Victorian world' WOMAN&HOMEA beguiling novel of Victorian theft and obsession from the bestselling author of THE SOMNAMBULIST.Uprooted from her home in India, Alice is raised by her aunt, a spiritualist medium in Windsor. When the mysterious Mr Tilsbury enters their lives, Alice is drawn into a plot to steal the priceless Koh-i-Noor diamond, claimed by the British Empire at the end of the Anglo-Sikh wars.Said to be both blessed and cursed, the sacred Indian stone exerts its power over all who encounter it: a handsome deposed maharajah determined to claim his rightful throne, a man hell-bent on discovering the secrets of eternity, and a widowed queen who hopes the jewel can draw her husband's spirit back. In the midst of all this madness, Alice must discover a way to regain control of her life and fate...'An obvious comparison is with early Sarah Waters' GUARDIAN
The Night Falling
By Katherine Webb
The international bestseller returns with a searing new novel of secrets and feuds, set in 1920s Italy.Puglia, 1921. Leandro Cardetta, born into poverty, emigrated to America to make his fortune and has returned home to southern Italy a rich man, accompanied by his glamorous wife, Marcie, an ex-showgirl fighting middle age. Now Leandro has money enough to hire renowned English architect, Boyd Kinsgley, to renovate a crumbling palazzo into an Art Deco statement of wealth, and host Boyd's teenage son and his diffident young second wife, Clare, for one extraordinary summer.Under the burning sky, beyond the luxury of Leandro's home, tensions are high. Veterans of the Great War are desperate for work and food. Among these is Ettore, Leandro's nephew. Gripped by grief at the loss of his fiancée, Ettore has sworn to identify Livia's killer, and take his revenge. He is too proud to go to his uncle for charity, but when he injures himself one day, he has no choice but to knock on Leandro's door. Meeting Clare there will change everything - and in the most violent way.During the fierce summer of 1921, all these lives converge. Exactly how did Leandro grow rich in America, and what is the strange hold he has over Boyd? What happened to the first Mrs Kingsley, and what secret haunts the outwardly exuberant Marcie Cardetta? Hearts will be broken, blood will be spilt and the hardest of life's lessons will be learnt as shadows fall.