One Minute Book Review – Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

London 1595 and Richard, younger brother of William Shakespeare is a player in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men where William is both playwright and a sharer (a senior member of the company who shared both its expenses and its profits). Richard’s arrival in London a few years earlier was not welcomed by William. He packed Richard … Continue reading One Minute Book Review – Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

One Minute Book Review – Sumerford’s Autumn by Barbara Gaskell Denvil

Sumerford’s Autumn begins in 1497, twelve years after Henry VII won the crown of England by defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. The Earl of Sumerford, who fought on the wrong side, has been doing his best ever since to rehabilitate the family name and keep his family below notice of the king. … Continue reading One Minute Book Review – Sumerford’s Autumn by Barbara Gaskell Denvil

Forsaking All Other Love is no game for women; the price is far too high. England 1585. Bess Stoughton, waiting woman to the well-connected Lady Allingbourne, has discovered that her father is arranging for her to marry an elderly neighbour. Normally obedient Bess rebels and wrests from her father a year’s grace to find a … Continue reading

One Minute Book Review – Crimson and Bone by Marina Fiorato

Near the beginning of Crimson and Bone Annie Stride, the main character of the novel,  describes a room in the house of pre-Raphaelite painter Francis Maybrick Gill as 'a jewel box of a place'. Much the same could be said of this novel with its vibrant descriptions of the physical surroundings, of the characters and … Continue reading One Minute Book Review – Crimson and Bone by Marina Fiorato

Hilary Mantel’s Reith Lectures 2017

In the Reith Lectures this year Hilary Mantel discusses what is at the heart of good historical fiction, our relationship with the past, and the central elements in a historical novelist's attempt to bring the past alive for us today. As Mantel herself says 'The reason you must stick by the truth is that it … Continue reading Hilary Mantel’s Reith Lectures 2017

One Minute Book Review – Towers in the Mist by Elizabeth Goudge

This delightful novel covers a year in the life of the Leigh family, from the arrival on May Day 1565 of Faithful Crocker, a 14 year old orphaned vagabond, carrying his meagre possessions, a copy of Virgil and of Foxe's Book of Martyrs, and a burning desire to become a scholar, to the visit of … Continue reading One Minute Book Review – Towers in the Mist by Elizabeth Goudge

One Minute Book Review – The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

The Swan Thieves is an intriguing story of art and obsession. Its starting point is the attack on a 19th century painting hanging in the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The attacker, Robert Oliver, is a brilliant painter suffering from a psychosis. He is hospitalized under the care of psychiatrist Andrew Marlow who is … Continue reading One Minute Book Review – The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

One Minute Book Review: The Spy by Paul Coelho

This short novel by Paul Coelho begins with British reporter Henry Wales’ eyewitness account of the execution by firing squad on 15 October 1917 of Margaretha Zelle otherwise known as Mata Hari. Of a middle-class Dutch family, Margaretha was brought up by an uncle after her parents died. At school she was raped by her … Continue reading One Minute Book Review: The Spy by Paul Coelho