Jolabokaflod

Christmas Book Flood | Recommending reading

Historical and biographical fiction

queen-should-dieWhat If the Queen Should Die?
John-Paul Flintoff
(UK: Unbound, 2016; USA: Unbound, 2016)

Windsor Castle, 1714. Queen Anne has known her share of tragedy and grief: betrayed by her father; plagued by illness and obesity; cursed to lose all seventeen of her children. Now she is dying with no living offspring, and the question of who will succeed her hangs over the court, fuelling political intrigue and fear.

There are two likely successors: James Stuart, the half-brother she has always refused to acknowledge, and George of Hanover, the cousin who once turned her down for marriage. Neither is ideal. She hates them both.

As courtiers, politicians and sycophants plot to steer the succession to their own advantage, Queen Anne must finally face the past. For nothing can be resolved until she comes to terms with her children’s deaths and repairs the terrible wrong she committed many years before…

Recommended by:
Hermione IrelandWorldreader and Byte Consultancy

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (What If the Queen Should Die?)
Available in the USA via Amazon (What If the Queen Should Die?)

conclave

Conclave
Robert Harris
(UK: Hutchinson, 2016; USA: Knopf, 2016)

The Pope is dead… Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election… They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals… Over the next 72 hours, one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.

Recommended by:
Christopher NorrisJolabokaflod Book Campaign

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Conclave)
Available in the USA via Amazon (Conclave)

pompeiiPompeii
Robert Harris
(UK: Arrow, 2009; USA: Random House, 2005)

A sweltering week in late August. Where better to enjoy the last days of summer than on the beautiful Bay of Naples? But even as Rome’s richest citizens relax in their villas around Pompeii and Herculaneum, there are ominous warnings that something is going wrong. Wells and springs are failing, a man has disappeared, and now the greatest aqueduct in the world – the mighty Aqua Augusta – has suddenly ceased to flow.

Through the eyes of four characters – a young engineer, an adolescent girl, a corrupt millionaire and an elderly scientist – Robert Harris brilliantly recreates a luxurious world on the brink of destruction.

Recommended by:
Rt Hon. Andrea Leadsom MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, DEFRA

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Pompeii)
Available in the USA via Amazon (Pompeii)

memedmyhawkMemed, My Hawk
Yashar Kemal
(UK: Vintage Classics, 2016; USA: New York Review Books Classics, 2005)

Memed grows up a serf to a vicious overlord on the thistle-clad plains of Turkey’s Taurus region. When his plan to escape is dashed, and the young woman he loves murdered, Memed makes for the mountains to become an outlaw. Before long he has transformed from a young rebel to an infamous bandit, the scourge of corrupt oppressors and hero to the poor.

Recommended by:
Caroline Mawer, Writer and Researcher, Caroline Mawer (author website)
Caroline says: ‘This (short) epic is about love and violence, generosity and ruthlessness. The slow village start moves into a compelling and dramatic narrative. It is set in Turkey, and is probably the best book I have ever read – its descriptions of the mountains took me straight back to walking over the Zagros with a Bakhtiari family.’

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Memed, My Hawk)
Available in the USA via Amazon (Memed, My Hawk)

Contact Caroline at Caroline Mawer (author website) for details about her first book:
The Shah’s Road: One Woman’s Journey across Iran

wolfhallWolf Hall
(Thomas Cromwell trilogy: book 1)
Hilary Mantel
(UK: 4th Estate, 2010; USA: Henry Holt, 2009)

England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey’s clerk, and later his successor.

Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events. Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.

Wolf Hall is that very rare thing: a truly great English novel, one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics. With a vast array of characters, and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding itself with great passion, suffering and courage.

Recommended by:
Jane Johnson

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Wolf Hall)
Available in the USA via Amazon (Wolf Hall)

book-of-harlanThe Book of Harlan
Bernice L McFadden
(UK: Jacaranda, 2016; USA: Akashic, 2016)

The book opens with the courtship of Harlan’s parents and his 1917 birth in Macon, Georgia. After his prominent minister grandfather dies, Harlan and his parents move to Harlem, where he eventually becomes a professional musician. When Harlan and his best friend, trumpeter Lizard Robbins, are invited to perform at a popular cabaret in the Parisian enclave of Montmartre – affectionately referred to as ‘The Harlem of Paris’ by black American musicians – Harlan jumps at the opportunity, convincing Lizard to join him. But after the City of Light falls under Nazi occupation, Harlan and Lizard are thrown into Buchenwald – the notorious concentration camp in Weimar, Germany – irreparably changing the course of Harlan’s life.

Recommended by:
Hermione IrelandWorldreader and Byte Consultancy

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (The Book of Harlan)
Available in the USA via Amazon (The Book of Harlan)

redeemingloveRedeeming Love
Francine Rivers
(UK: Lion Hudson, 2013; USA: Multnomah, 2005)

Angel, sold into prostitution as a child, survives by keeping her hatred for men alive. Then she meets Michael Hosea who loves her unconditionally. Day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation until, despite her resistance, her heart begins to thaw. But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. So Angel runs…

Recommended by:
Katrina Douglas, Co-Founder, SameVine

Available in the UK via ‘My Local Bookshop‘ search engine or Amazon (Redeeming Love)
Available in the USA via Amazon (Redeeming Love)

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