This enthralling confection of a novel, the first in a new trilogy, follows the transformation of a coddled Austrian archduchess into the reckless, powerful, beautiful queen Marie Antoinette.
Why must it be me? I wondered. When I am so clearly inadequate to my destiny?
Raised alongside her numerous brothers and sisters by the formidable empress of Austria, ten-year-old Maria Antonia knew that her idyllic existence would one day be sacrificed to her mother’s political ambitions. What she never anticipated was that the day in question would come so soon.
Before she can journey from sunlit picnics with her sisters in Vienna to the glitter, glamour, and gossip of Versailles, Antonia must change everything about herself in order to be accepted as dauphine of France and the wife of the awkward teenage boy who will one day be Louis XVI. Yet nothing can prepare her for the ingenuity and influence it will take to become queen.
Filled with smart history, treacherous rivalries, lavish clothes, and sparkling jewels, Becoming Marie Antoinette will utterly captivate fiction and history lovers alike.
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Jeanne Kalogridis - The Inquisitor's Wife
From the author of the critically acclaimed BORGIA BRIDE and THE SCARLET CONTESSA, comes another irresistible historical novel set during the Spanish Inquisition about a young woman who will stop at nothing to save her people from Torquemada’s torturers: THE INQUISITOR'S WIFE. In 1480 Seville, Marisol, a fearful young conversa (descendant of Spanish Jews forced to convert to Christianity), is ashamed of her Jewish blood. Forced into a sham marriage with a prosecutor for the new Inquisition, Marisol soon discovers that her childhood sweetheart, Antonio, has just returned to Seville and is also working for the inquisitors. When Marisol’s father is arrested and tortured during Spain’s first auto da fe, Marisol comes to value her Jewish heritage and vows to fight the Inquisition. When she discovers that her beloved Antonio is working to smuggle conversos safely out of Spain, she joins him and risks her life on behalf of her people; a passionate romance follows. Unfortunately, Marisol does not realize that her supposedly kind and gentle inquisitor-husband has been using her all along to lead Antonio and her fellow conversos to their doom..
Don DeLillo - Libra
An unparalleled work of historical conjecture, ranging imaginatively over huge tracts of the American popular consciousness, Don DeLillo's Libra contains an introduction by the author in Penguin Modern Classics. In this powerful, eerily convincing fictional speculation on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Don DeLillo chronicles Lee Harvey Oswald's odyssey from troubled teenager to a man of precarious stability who imagines himself an agent of history. When "history" presents itself in the form of two disgruntled CIA operatives who decide that an unsuccessful attempt on the life of JFK will galvanize the nation against Communism, the scales are irrevocably tipped.
David Mitchell - The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
Imagine an empire that has shut out the world for a century and a half. No one can leave, foreigners are excluded, their religions banned and their ideas deeply mistrusted. Yet a narrow window onto this nation-fortress still exists: an artificial walled island connected to a mainland port, and manned by a handful of European traders. And locked as the land-gate may be, it cannot prevent the meeting of minds - or hearts. The nation was Japan, the port was Nagasaki and the island was Dejima, to where David Mitchell's panoramic novel transports us in the year 1799. For one Dutch clerk, Jacob de Zoet, a dark adventure of duplicity, love, guilt, faith and murder is about to begin -- and all the while, unbeknownst to him and his feuding compatriots, the axis of global power is turning...
Eleanor Catton - The Luminaries
It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky. The Luminaries is an extraordinary piece of fiction. It is full of narrative, linguistic and psychological pleasures, and has a fiendishly clever and original structuring device. Written in pitch-perfect historical register, richly evoking a mid-19th century world of shipping and banking and goldrush boom and bust, it is also a ghost story, and a gripping mystery. It is a thrilling achievement for someone still in her mid-20s, and will confirm for critics and readers that Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international writing firmament.
William Ritter - Jackaby
Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s original, engrossing, and tremendously fun debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent female assistant. It is 1892, and young Abigail Rook arrives in New Fiddleham, New England, with nothing but a suitcase and a handful of coins in her pocket. In a tavern, she meets the compelling and confounding R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary – including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail’s gift for noticing ordinary but important details makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. Hardly has she been hired when she finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: a serial killer is on the loose in New Fiddleham. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain the foul deeds are the work of a nonhuman creature. Only handsome young detective Charlie Cane is willing to help Jackaby and Abigail, though his motives for taking such a risk are unclear. Set amidst the excitement, innovation, and mysticism of the late 19th century, Jackaby blends a classic detective story with cheeky humor and a fun touch of the macabre.
Edward Rutherfurd - Ireland Awakening
Few authors are as ambitious as Edward Rutherford. And Dublin: Foundation, the first of a massive two-part epic, is possibly Rutherford's most challenging undertaking yet--and (on the evidence of this first book) could well be his most considerable achievement. Rutherford's sheer readability belies his obvious seriousness. His arm-straining volumes may cover every possible variety of human experience (couched in historical backgrounds of immense detail and authenticity), but he remains a storyteller of no mean skills. From the early books that made his name (notably the much-acclaimed Sarum), through to the more recent blockbuster London, the author has combined a panoramic, Homeric vision with a James-Joyce like concentration on the minutiae of everyday life; the results of this synthesis are brought to perfectly honed effect in Dublin: Foundation. Parallels with Joyce's Dublin are not appropriate here, though. The scope is far wider and stretches back into history. Beginning in Pre-Christian Ireland as the Kings of Tara reigned autocratically, we encounter the lovers Prince Conall and the beautiful Deidre. An army sized dramatis personae surround the lovers, representing every player in a turbulent era. We are shown many of the key events in Irish history, with parts for Saint Patrick, the Nordic savagery of the Vikings and the battles with the cunning Henry VIII. As this operatic volume ends with the approach of the Reformation, the orchestration of narrative commands total respect. --Barry Forshaw
James Morrow - The Last Witchfinder
Jennet is the daughter of the Witchfinder of Mercia and East Anglia. Whilst her father roams the countryside in search of heretics, Jennet is left behind to be schooled by her aunt Isobel in the New Philosophy principally expounded by Isaac Newton. But her aunt's style of scientific enquiry soon attracts the attention of the witchfinders. To save her aunt, Jennet travels to Cambridge to seek the help of Newton himself. Isobel is burned at the stake but in her dying moments, begs Jennet to devote her life to overturning the Parliamentary Witchcraft Act. This is a huge rollercoaster of a novel as Jennet travels to America and witnesses the Salem witch trials; is abducted by Indians; begins an affair with Benjamin Franklin; travels back to England and finally meets the real Newton; is shipwrecked; then ends up back in America where her brother is now the Witchfinder Royal. In a great final showdown between old superstition and new science, Jennet decides to have herself accused of witchcraft in order to disprove its existence.
Edward Rutherfurd - Paris
From the grand master of the historical novel comes a dazzling epic portrait of Paris that leaps through centuries as it weaves the tales of families whose fates are forever entwined with the City of Light. As he did so brilliantly in London: The Novel and New York: The Novel, Edward Rutherfurd brings to life the most magical city in the world: Paris. This breathtaking multigenerational saga takes readers on a journey through thousands of years of glorious Parisian history.
Christina Dodd - That Scandalous Evening
_A Disastrous Season_ A simple statue began the scandal. _A Lady Concealed_ An innocent English miss conceived of it, her hands gliding across the clay, delineating each smoothly defined muscle and sinew, creating a sculpture of the man she worshipped. When the likeness was exposed, along with Miss Jane Higgenbothem's secret tendre for Lord Blackburn, the ton's gleeful contempt sent the lady back to the country in disgrace. _A Gentleman Revealed_ Now, a decade later, she's back in London, as a chaperone to her beautiful niece. But to Blackburn, Jane's unwitting model, the cool, reticent spinster is still a challenge. She once made the arrogant rake a laughingstock: so why is he tempted to revive an affair that almost began so long ago, on one scandalous evening?
Kate Quinn - Daughters of Rome
A.D. 69. Nero is dead. The Roman Empire is up for the taking. With bloodshed spilling out of the palace and into the streets of Rome, chaos has become the status quo. The Year of Four Emperors will change everything—especially the lives of two sisters with a very personal stake in the outcome…. Elegant and ambitious, Cornelia embodies the essence of the perfect Roman wife. She lives to one day see her loyal husband as Emperor. Her sister, Marcella, is more withdrawn, content to witness history rather than make it. Even so, Marcella has her share of distinguished suitors, from a cutthroat contender for the throne to a politician’s son who swears that someday he will be Emperor. But when a bloody coup turns their world upside down, Cornelia and Marcella—along with their cousins, one a collector of husbands and lovers, the other a horse-mad beauty with no interest in romance—must maneuver carefully just to stay alive. As Cornelia tries to pick up the pieces of her shattered dreams, Marcella discovers a hidden talent for influencing the most powerful men in Rome. In the end, though, there can only be one Emperor … and one Empress.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni - The Palace of Illusions
Relevant to today’s war-torn world, The Palace of Illusions takes us back to the time of the Indian epic The Mahabharat—a time that is half-history, half-myth, and wholly magical. Through her narrator Panchaali, the wife of the legendary five Pandavas brothers, Divakaruni gives us a rare feminist interpretation of an epic story. The novel traces Panchaali’s life, beginning with her magical birth in fire as the daughter of a king before following her spirited balancing act as a woman with five husbands who have been cheated out of their father’s kingdom. Panchaali is swept into their quest to reclaim their birthright, remaining at the brothers’ sides through years of exile and a terrible civil war. Meanwhile, we never lose sight of her stratagems to take over control of her household from her mother-in-law, her complicated friendship with the enigmatic Krishna, or her secret attraction to the mysterious man who is her husband’s most dangerous enemy. Panchaali is a fiery female voice in a world of warriors, gods, and ever-manipulating hands of fate.
Mary Jo Putney - The Bargain
First published as The Would-Be Widow in 1989, this intoxicating Regency has been rewritten by Mary Jo Putney to give the story and characters greater depth. Now titled The Bargain, it will charm readers old and new with its unlikely and outrageous romance... To keep her fortune, a beautiful heiress impulsively weds a penniless officer dying of wounds received at Waterloo. But when the blasted man hasn't the grace to die, she suddenly finds herself with a healthy, vibrant husband who wants to renegotiate the terms of their bargain--and ultimately possess the heart of his bewildered bride...
Bernard Cornwell - Sharpe's Trafalgar
The seventeenth Sharpe novel sees Sharpe returning from India to London to join the newly formed Green jackets. Sharpe, though a little more comfortable with his new officer rank, is sure that this new unit is of lower status, and that he has failed. His ship home is shipwrecked: he is captured by pirates but fighting free with a few companions, finds himself on a British Navy ship heading to join Nelson's fleet. And there, in October 1805, he finds himself involved in the great sea battle, and discovers new skills in fighting on sea.
Colm Tóibín - The Master
In _The Master_, Colm Tóibín captures the exquisite anguish of a man who circulated in the grand parlours and palazzos of Europe, who was astonishingly vibrant and alive in his art, and yet whose attempts at intimacy inevitably failed him and those he tried to love. It is a powerful account of the hazards of putting the life of the mind before affairs of the heart.
Isabel Wolff - Ghostwritten
A childhood mistake. A lifetime of regrets. Jenni is a ‘ghost’: she writes the lives of other people. It’s a job that suits her well: still haunted by a childhood tragedy, she finds it easier to take refuge in the memories of others rather than dwell on her own. Jenni has an exciting new commission, and is delighted to start working on the memoirs of a Dutchwoman, Klara. As a child in the Second World War, Klara was interned in a camp on Java during the Japanese occupation – she has an extraordinary story of survival to tell. But as Jenni and Klara begin to get to know each other, Jenni begins to do much more than shed light on a neglected part of history. She is being forced to examine her own devastating memories, too. But with Klara’s help, perhaps this is finally the moment where she will be able to lay the ghosts of her own past to rest?
Alexandre Dumas - The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers (French: Les Trois Mousquetaires) is a novel by Alexandre Dumas, père, first serialized in March–July 1844. Set in the 17th century, it recounts the adventures of a young man named d'Artagnan after he leaves home to become a guard of the musketeers. D'Artagnan is not one of the musketeers of the title; those are his friends Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, inseparable friends who live by the motto "all for one, one for all" ("tous pour un, un pour tous"). The story of d'Artagnan is continued in Twenty Years After and The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later. Those three novels by Dumas are together known as the d'Artagnan Romances.
Octavia E. Butler - Wild Seed
When two immortals meet in the long-ago past, the destiny of mankind is changed forever For a thousand years, Doro has cultivated a small African village, carefully breeding its people in search of seemingly unattainable perfection. He survives through the centuries by stealing the bodies of others, a technique he has so thoroughly mastered that nothing on Earth can kill him. But when a gang of New World slavers destroys his village, ruining his grand experiment, Doro is forced to go west and begin anew. He meets Anyanwu, a centuries-old woman whose means of immortality are as kind as his are cruel. She is a shapeshifter, capable of healing with a kiss, and she recognizes Doro as a tyrant. Though many humans have tried to kill them, these two demi-gods have never before met a rival. Now they begin a struggle that will last centuries and permanently alter the nature of humanity.
Cat Winters - The Cure for Dreaming
Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.
Wallace Stegner - Angle of Repose
Angle of Repose tells the story of Lyman Ward, a retired professor of history and author of books about the Western frontier, who returns to his ancestral home of Grass Valley, California, in the Sierra Nevada. Wheelchair-bound with a crippling bone disease and dependent on others for his every need, Ward is nonetheless embarking on a search of monumental proportions - to rediscover his grandmother, now long dead, who made her own journey to Grass Valley nearly a hundred years earlier. Like other great quests in literature, Lyman Ward's investigation leads him deep into the dark shadows of his own life.
Lucinda Riley - The Light Behind the Window
The present Emilie de la Martiniéres has always fought against her aristocratic background, but after the death of her glamorous, distant mother, she finds herself alone in the world and sole inheritor of her grand childhood home in the south of France. An old notebook of poems leads her in search of the mysterious and beautiful Sophia, whose tragic love affair changed the course of her family history. As Emilie unravels the story, she too embarks on her own journey of discovery, realising that the château may provide clues to her own difficult past and finally unlock the future. The past London 1943. A young office clerk, Constance Carruthers, is drafted into the SOE, arriving in occupied Paris during the climax of the conflict. Separated from her contact in her very first hours in France, she stumbles into the heart of a wealthy family who are caught up in a deadly game of secrets and lies. Forced to surrender her identity and all ties to her homeland and her beloved husband, Constance finds herself drawn into a complex web of deception, the repercussions of which will affect generations to come. From the author of the international bestseller, Hothouse Flower, Lucinda Riley’s new novel is a breathtaking and intense story of love, war and, above all, forgiveness.