A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee was this month’s book club read. It was a book I discovered by chance in some ways, being totally out-with my usual periods for historical fiction, and I am so glad I did. At the Granite Noir festival in Aberdeen a couple of months ago, the opening even featured the author being interviewed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. As my friend is a huge fan of Sturgeon, she was keen to go, and I am always keen to hear about a good historical crime novel.
Naval fiction seems to be the theme for all my April reads so far, though this wasn’t a deliberate choice! I’ve been so enjoying this second circumnavigation of Patrick O’Brian’s masterly series that Mauritius Command wound up jumping a few places up on my reading list. Book four in the series takes place a few years after the events of HMS Surprise and is based on the very real Mauritius campaign of 1810, putting our two protagonists right at the centre of it.
After enjoying Post Captain so much, I couldn’t really wait to get stuck into HMS Surprise, the third in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series. It proved to be another excellent piece of Napoleonic naval fiction; rich in action and personal drama alike.
If Titans came in book form, Les Miserables would be the largest and strongest of them all. First published in 1862, it’s 1200 pages long – one of the longest novels ever written in fact – and it’s one of those works that transcends genre. It is, quite frankly, a literary masterpiece and it’s tied in first place with Persuasion as my all-time favourite novel.
There are few partnerships in English literature that can hold a candle to Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin and few regency-based authors who write with the meticulous assurance and perfect tone of Patrick O’Brien. It’s a recipe for perfect historical fiction.
When this was named as the choice for our January book club meeting, I had never heard of it. However, when I looked it up online and saw that it was historical fiction with a basis in genuine historical events, and also had scores of 5-Star reviews, I had high hopes for it. Continue reading “Book Review: The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson”
Happy New Year, everyone! After a couple of slightly lax months, it’s back to the book reviews.
My first read of 2019 was the fifth of Naomi Novik’s wonderful Temeraire series. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, they feature an alternate history in which sentient dragons are teamed up with human captains to form the Aerial Corps, a branch of the armed services which exists alongside the army and navy.
The Song of Achilles is the 40th book I’ve read this year, and so hits my Goodreads challenge for 2018 – hurrah! It’s not a book I was previously aware of, though it won the Orange Prize in 2012 and has a massive following online. The cover merely caught my eye in Waterstones in September and I picked it up with a few other purchases.
I’m so glad I did. I’ve had a great reading year, discovering a few new gems and this has undoubtedly been one of them. I’m unsure if you technically can spoil a story that’s been out there for millennia but if you’re totally unfamiliar with the legend of Achilles and still want to read the book, you may want to stop reading this review now.
What a read. Seriously, what a read! Written by double-Man Booker winner Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety is a titanic, mammoth of a novel. It’s not so much a book that you read as much as live through.
The story focuses on the lives of Maximilien Robespierre, Camille Desmoulins and George-Jacques Danton; three of the primary architects of the French Revolution. Set over 900 pages, Mantel takes the reader on a journey to discover how three misfit boys grew to be some of the most powerful men in eighteenth century France and then fell from grace. The tale closes as Danton and Demoulins, overthrown by their former friends, are taken to the guillotine.
Empire of Ivory is book four of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series and was my weekend choice of reading for a train journey to Edinburgh and back.