Confessions of Marie Antoinette, the riveting and sweeping final novel in Juliet Grey’s trilogy on the life of the legendary French queen, blends rich historical detail with searing drama, bringing to life the early years of the French Revolution and the doomed royal family’s final days.
Versailles, 1789. As the burgeoning rebellion reaches the palace gates, Marie Antoinette finds her privileged and peaceful life swiftly upended by violence. Once her loyal subjects, the people of France now seek to overthrow the crown, placing the heirs of the Bourbon dynasty in mortal peril.
Displaced to the Tuileries Palace in Paris, the royal family is propelled into the heart of the Revolution. There, despite a few staunch allies, they are surrounded by cunning spies and vicious enemies. Yet despite the political and personal threats against her, Marie Antoinette remains above all a devoted wife and mother, standing steadfastly by her husband, Louis XVI, and protecting their young son and daughter. And though the queen and her family try to flee, and she secretly attempts to arrange their rescue from the clutches of the Revolution, they cannot outrun the dangers encircling them, or escape their shocking fate.
Philippa Gregory - A Respectable Trade
Bristol in 1787 is booming, a city where power beckons those who dare to take risks. Josiah Cole, a small dockside trader, is prepared to gamble everything to join the big players of the city. But he needs capital and a well-connected wife.
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.
Lawrence Hill - The Book of Negroes
Abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle—a string of slaves— Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic “Book of Negroes.” This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own. Aminata’s eventual return to Sierra Leone—passing ships carrying thousands of slaves bound for America—is an engrossing account of an obscure but important chapter in history that saw 1,200 former slaves embark on a harrowing back-to-Africa odyssey. Lawrence Hill is a master at transforming the neglected corners of history into brilliant imaginings, as engaging and revealing as only the best historical fiction can be. A sweeping story that transports the reader from a tribal African village to a plantation in the southern United States, from the teeming Halifax docks to the manor houses of London, The Book of Negroes introduces one of the strongest female characters in recent Canadian fiction, one who cuts a swath through a world hostile to her colour and her sex.
Neal Stephenson - Quicksilver
Daniel Waterhouse possesses a brilliant scientific mind and yet knows that his genius is dwarfed by that of his friends Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz, and Robert Hooke. A student of the twin disciplines of science and alchemy, he is embroiled in a bloody struggle for religious freedom. Jack Shaftoe began his life as a London street urchin and is now a reckless wanderer in search of good fortune. The intrepid exploits of Half-Cocked Jack, King of the Vagabonds, are quickly becoming the stuff of legend through Europe. Eliza is a young woman whose ingenuity is all that keeps her alive after being set adrift from the Turkish harem in which she has been imprisoned since she was a child. Daniel, Jack and Eliza traverse a landscape populated by mad alchemists, Barbary pirates, and bawdy courtiers, as well as historical figures including Samuel Pepys, Ben Franklin, and other great minds of the age. Travelling from the infant American colonies to the Tower of London, the glittering courts of Louis XIV, and all manner of places in between, this magnificent historical epic brings to vivid life a time like no other, and establishes its author as one of the pre-eminent talents of our own age.
R. D. Blackmore - Lorna Doone
First published in 1869, Lorna Doone is the story of John Ridd, a farmer who finds love amid the religious and social turmoil of seventeenth-century England. He is just a boy when his father is slain by the Doones, a lawless clan inhabiting wild Exmoor on the border of Somerset and Devon. Seized by curiosity and a sense of adventure, he makes his way to the valley of the Doones, where he is discovered by the beautiful Lorna. In time their childish fantasies blossom into mature love a bond that will inspire John to rescue his beloved from the ravages of a stormy winter, rekindling a conflict with his archrival, Carver Doone, that climaxes in heartrending violence. Beloved for its portrait of star-crossed lovers and its surpassing descriptions of the English countryside, Lorna Doone is R. D. Blackmore's enduring masterpiece.
Rosemary Sutcliff - The Eagle of The Ninth
The Ninth Legion marched into the mists of Northern Britain--and they were never seen again. Four thousand men disappeared and their eagle standard was lost. It's a mystery that's never been solved, until now . . . Marcus has to find out what happened to his father, who led the legion. So he sets out into the unknown, on a quest so dangerous that nobody expects him to return.
Gregory Maguire - Mirror Mirror
The year is 1502, and seven-year-old Bianca de Nevada lives perched high above the rolling hills and valleys of Tuscany and Umbria at Montefiore, the farm of her beloved father, Don Vicente. But one day a noble entourage makes its way up the winding slopes to the farm — and the world comes to Montefiore. In the presence of Cesare Borgia and his sister, the lovely and vain Lucrezia — decadent children of a wicked pope — no one can claim innocence for very long. When Borgia sends Don Vicente on a years-long quest, he leaves Bianca under the care — so to speak — of Lucrezia. She plots a dire fate for the young girl in the woods below the farm, but in the dark forest salvation can be found as well ... A lyrical work of stunning creative vision, Mirror Mirror gives fresh life to the classic story of Snow White — and has a truth and beauty all its own.
Jennifer Chiaverini - Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker
In Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, novelist Jennifer Chiaverini presents a stunning account of the friendship that blossomed between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Keckley, a former slave who gained her professional reputation in Washington, D.C. by outfitting the city’s elite. Keckley made history by sewing for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln within the White House, a trusted witness to many private moments between the President and his wife, two of the most compelling figures in American history. In March 1861, Mrs. Lincoln chose Keckley from among a number of applicants to be her personal “modiste,” responsible not only for creating the First Lady’s gowns, but also for dressing Mrs. Lincoln in the beautiful attire Keckley had fashioned. The relationship between the two women quickly evolved, as Keckley was drawn into the intimate life of the Lincoln family, supporting Mary Todd Lincoln in the loss of first her son, and then her husband to the assassination that stunned the nation and the world. Keckley saved scraps from the dozens of gowns she made for Mrs. Lincoln, eventually piecing together a tribute known as the Mary Todd Lincoln Quilt. She also saved memories, which she fashioned into a book, Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. Upon its publication, Keckley’s memoir created a scandal that compelled Mary Todd Lincoln to sever all ties with her, but in the decades since, Keckley’s story has languished in the archives. In this impeccably researched, engrossing novel, Chiaverini brings history to life in rich, moving style.
William Golding - The Inheritors
Eight Neanderthals encounter another race of beings like themselves, yet strangely different. This new race, Homo sapiens, fascinating in their skills and sophistication, terrifying in their cruelty, sense of guilt, and incipient corruption, spell doom for the more gentle folk whose world they will inherit. Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, won the 1983 Nobel Prize for Literature.
C. S. Harris - When Gods Die
June, 1811. On a summer's evening at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, the beautiful young wife of an aging Marquis is found dead in the arms of the Prince Regent himself. From her back protrudes a jeweled dagger that once belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie. Around her neck lies an ancient bluestone and silver necklace said to have been worn by the Druid priestesses of Wales. Legend credited the necklace with mysterious powers—until it was lost at sea with its last owner, the mother of Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin. Still shadowed by rumors of his own dark past, Sebastian is lured into a dangerous investigation of both the Marchioness's death and his own mother's uncertain fate. He soon discovers that the idle, profligate Prince is not as innocent as his court handlers would have the public believe. With the aid of his lover, a celebrated actress with secrets of her own, and his new servant, Tom, Sebastian follows a twisted trail that leads from a seaside pleasure palace to the most depraved London slums, from the murdered woman's elegant townhouse in Mayfair to a medieval tavern run by an ex-slave. As he edges closer to the truth, Sebastian finds himself thrust into a world of hidden passions and disguised ambition. And when one murder is followed by another, he confronts an insidious conspiracy that imperils those nearest to him even as it threatens to bring down the monarchy.
Philippa Gregory - The King's Curse
The final novel in the Cousins’ War series, the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries, The White Queen, by #1 New York Times bestselling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory tells the fascinating story of Margaret Pole, cousin to the “White Princess,” Elizabeth of York, and lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon. Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors. After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret’s world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and “holiest” woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.
Juliet Grey - Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow
A captivating novel of rich spectacle and royal scandal, Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow spans fifteen years in the fateful reign of Marie Antoinette, France’s most legendary and notorious queen. Paris, 1774. At the tender age of eighteen, Marie Antoinette ascends to the French throne alongside her husband, Louis XVI. But behind the extravagance of the young queen’s elaborate silk gowns and dizzyingly high coiffures, she harbors deeper fears for her future and that of the Bourbon dynasty. From the early growing pains of marriage to the joy of conceiving a child, from her passion for Swedish military attaché Axel von Fersen to the devastating Affair of the Diamond Necklace, Marie Antoinette tries to rise above the gossip and rivalries that encircle her. But as revolution blossoms in America, a much larger threat looms beyond the gilded gates of Versailles - one that could sweep away the French monarchy forever.
Jaclyn Dolamore - Dark Metropolis
Cabaret meets Cassandra Clare-a haunting magical thriller set in a riveting 1930s-esque world. Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder's mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules. Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own. Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they're not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too. Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, this is a chilling thriller with a touch of magic where the dead don't always seem to stay that way.
Alice Hoffman - The Dovekeepers
The lives of four sensuous, bold and remarkable women intersect in the year 70AD, in the desperate days of the siege of Masada, when supplies are dwindling and the Romans are drawing near. All are dovekeepers, and all are keepers of secrets - about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love. There is Yael, the assassin's daughter whose heartbreak leads to her true path in the ruins of the desert; Revka, the baker's wife who loses her dearest treasure on earth and yet finds the strength to protect her family; Aziza, the warrior's beloved who leads a secret life not even those closest to her could imagine; and Marit, beautiful witch of Moab, a woman as loyal as she is dangerous.
Émile Zola - The Ladies' Paradise
Through charm, drive, and diligent effort Octave Mouret has become the director of one of the finest new department stores in Paris, Au Bonheur des Dames. Supremely aware of the power of his position, Mouret seeks to exploit the desire that his luxuriantly displayed merchandise arouses in the ladies who shop, and the aspirations of the young female assistants he employs. Charting the beginnings of the capitalist economy and bourgeois society, Zola captures in lavish detail the greedy customers and gossiping staff, and the obsession with image, fashion, and gratification that was a phenomenon of nineteenth-century French consumer society. Of all Zola's novels, this may be the one with the most relevance for our own time.
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
Peter May - Entry Island
When Detective Sime Mackenzie boards a light aircraft at Montreal's St. Hubertairfield, he does so without looking back. For Sime, the 850-mile journey aheadrepresents an opportunity to escape the bitter blend of loneliness and regret thathas come to characterise his life in the city.Travelling as part of an eight-officer investigation team, Sime's destination lies inthe Gulf of St. Lawrence. Only two kilometres wide and three long, ENTRY ISLAND ishome to a population of around 130 inhabitants - the wealthiest of which has justbeen discovered murdered in his home.The investigation itself appears little more than a formality.
Juliet Grey - Becoming Marie Antoinette
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. Look for special features inside. Join the Circle for author chats and more. RandomHouseReadersCircle.com
Mór Jókai - The Baron's Sons
The post-prandial orator was in the midst of his toast, the champagne-foam ran over the edge of his glass and trickled down his fat fingers, his lungs were expanded and his vocal chords strained to the utmost in the delivery of the well-rounded period upon which he was launched, and the blood was rushing to his head in the generous enthusiasm of the moment. In that brilliant circle of guests every man held his hand in readiness on the slender stem of his glass and waited, all attention, for the toast to come to an end in a final dazzling display of oratorical pyrotechnics. The attendants hastened to fill the half-empty glasses, and the leader of the gypsy orchestra, which was stationed at the farther end of the hall, held his violin-bow in the air, ready to fall in at the right moment with a burst of melody that should drown the clinking of glasses at the close of the toast.
Celia Rees - Sovay
England, 1783. When the rich and beautiful Sovay isn't sitting for portraits, she's donning a man's cloak and robbing travelers in broad daylight. But in a time when political allegiances between France and England are strained, a rogue bandit is not the only thing travelers fear. Spies abound, and rumors of sedition can quickly lead to disappearances. So when Sovay lifts the wallet of one of England's most powerful and dangerous men, it's not just her own identity she must hide, but that of her father. A dazzling historical saga in which the roles of thieves and gentry, good and bad, and men and women are interchanged to riveting effect.