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ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— Some time on the 4th of August 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were hacked to death in their home. Their daughter Lizzie was charged with the murders, but after a sensational trial was acquitted and released. No-one else was ever charged, and Lizzie became the subject of an infamous rhyme which squarely judged her as the perpetrator.
Out of these bare facts, Schmidt has constructed a creepily addictive novel. Told through the voices of Lizzie, her sister Emma and their step-mother's relative Benjamin (who appears at the time of the murders and is obviously hiding something), this heavily researched novel conveys a sinisterly claustrophobic atmosphere as it traces the days leading up to the killings, and the aftermath.
The characters are believable, from the flighty highly-strung Lizzie to the sensible Emma on the cusp of escaping her constrictive family life; the controlling, parsimonious Mr Borden and his compliant second wife, whose only power is to lash out unexpectedly; the oleaginous Benjamin; the much put-upon, homesick Irish maid Bridget. The sisters' relationship is particularly interesting and Lizzie's personality most disturbing, whether she committed the crime or not.
See What I Have Done is a well-crafted story that will linger (like the stench of mutton soup in summer) with the reader long after the book is finished! Lindy Jones
'Eerie and compelling, Sarah Schmidt breathes such life into the terrible, twisted tale of Lizzie Borden and her family, she makes it impossible to look away.' - Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
He was still bleeding. I yelled, Someone's killed Father. I breathed in kerosene air, licked the thickness from my teeth. The clock on the mantel ticked ticked. I looked at Father, the way hands clutched to thighs, the way the little gold ring on his pinky finger sat like a sun. I gave him that ring for his birthday when I no longer wanted it. Daddy, I had said. I'm giving this to you because I love you. He had smiled and kissed my forehead. A long time ago now.'
On 4 August 1892 Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. During the inquest into the deaths, Lizzie Borden was arrested and charged with the murder of her father and her stepmother. Through the eyes of Lizzie's sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, the enigmatic stranger Benjamin and the beguiling Lizzie herself, we return to what happened that day in Fall River. Lizzie Borden took an axe. Or did she?
Sworn to honour. Broken by betrayal. Hakan, son of Haldan, chosen son of the Lord of the Northern Jutes, swears loyalty to his father in fire, in iron, and in blood. But there are always shadows that roam. When a terrible tragedy befalls Hakan's household he is forced to leave his world behind. He must seek to pledge his sword to a new king. Nameless and alone, he embarks on a journey to escape the bonds of his past and fulfil his destiny as a great warrior. Whispers of sinister forces in the north pull Hakan onwards to a kingdom plagued by mysterious and gruesome deaths. But does he have the strength to do battle with such dark foes? Or is death the only sane thing to seek in this world of blood and broken oaths?
Kenya, 1952, a colony on the edge. Settlers drink sundowners on the veranda but the servants can't be trusted. Beyond manicured lawns, in the dark of the forest, freedom is stirring.
Johnny Seymour has seen too much war and seeks solace photographing East African wildlife. But when isolated white families are slaughtered by Mau Mau gangs, the British respond brutally and Johnny is reluctantly pulled into the horror.
After his African driver Macharia disappears, Johnny is forced to confront shocking truths about his own country and ask how far he'll go to help a friend.
Nearly sixty years later, disgraced young barrister Sam Seymour knows nothing about her grandfather. Even his name is taboo. All she understands is that Johnny did something so awful that his only son - her father - had to be rescued from Kenya.
Now as veteran Mau Mau fighters demand reparations for past sins, she's been offered a chance to unpeel history and discover why.
In a narrative spanning the generations, White Highlands follows Sam and Johnny as they confront the might of the British state. One man stands in both their way - Grogan Littleboy, a ruthless colonial survivor who'll do anything to defeat Mau Mau, past and present. A startlingly original novel set in both the present day and Kenya in the 1950s during the Mau Mau uprising - one of the least known and darkest episodes in British colonial history.
Can one man save his land and the woman he loves?
Fleeing the English court after the lecherous King John attacks her, Adela, the queen's hairbraider, finds employment in the entourage of Lady Alys. Alys is making a bridal journey to marry the lord of Mirascon, a city-state in southern France. Mirascon is a summer land of poetry and music where women are respected and religious tolerance prevails. But such sanctuary is already under threat as Pope Innocent III, angry that heresy has not been wiped out, has amassed a crusading army that will destroy anything in its path.
Having tried in vain to rally his fellow lords against the northerners, Ricart, Vicomte de Mirascon, makes an alliance with King John. A political marriage to the Lady Alys – the king's discarded mistress – will allow Ricart to safeguard his people from the merciless enemy force already on the march.
When the bridal party is ambushed, Adela is mistaken for her dead mistress by the people of Mirascon. Adela knows she must tell Ricart that she is not his betrothed, but as she is dragged deeper into the deception, she is also powerfully drawn to the beleaguered man trying to protect his people and his culture. Adela is recognised by the dwarf Derwent, Ricart's English jester, who seems willing to keep her secret for the time being. Yet as suspicion builds up against her, paying with her life seems inevitable.
As the savage army marches south, can Ricart and Adela overcome a web of deceit and treachery and evade the bonfires of the crusaders or will their land of troubadours and tolerance be destroyed forever?
Set in the time of the Crusades, Isolde Martyn's newest historical adventure has all the battle, action and romance of the Outlander series, plus the political intrigue and danger of a Philippa Gregory novel.
Sicily, 1677. From his deathbed, Charles III's viceroy, the marquis of Castle Rodrigo, names his wife as his successor. Eleanora de Moura is a highly intelligent and capable woman who immediately applies her political acumen to heal the scarred soul of Palermo, a city afflicted by poverty, misery and the frequent uprisings that are their consequences. But the machinations of powerful men soon result in Donna Eleanora, whom the Church sees as a dangerous revolutionary, being recalled to Spain. Her rule lasted 27 days - the exact time it takes for the moon to complete a cycle.
AD 15. The German chieftain Arminius has been defeated, one of the lost Roman eagles recovered, and thousands of German tribesmen slain. Yet these successes aren't nearly enough for senior centurion Lucius Tullus. Not until Arminius is dead, his old legion's eagle found and the enemy tribes completely vanquished will he rest. But Arminius - devious, fearless - is burning for revenge of his own. Charismatic as ever, he raises another large tribal army, which will harry the Romans the length and breadth of the land. Soon Tullus finds himself in a cauldron of bloodshed, treachery and danger. His mission to retrieve his legion's eagle will be his most perilous yet...
A dazzling literary mystery from prizewinning author Marcus Sedgwick, for fans of Scarlett Thomas, Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Patrick Suskind. In Paris, in the year 1899, Marcel Despres is arrested for the murder of his wife and transferred to Salpetriere asylum. And so the story might have stopped. But this is no ordinary patient: Marcel Despres, Mister Memory, is a man who cannot forget. And it is no ordinary case: the hurried cover-up hints at dark secrets in the shadows. A policeman and a doctor decide to unravel the mystery...but the answers lie inside Marcel's head. And how can he tell what is significant when he remembers every detail of every moment of his entire life?
In June 1837, the eighteen-year-old Victoria wakes up to find that she is Queen of the most powerful nation in the world. But will she be queen in her own right, or a puppet controlled by her mother and the sinister Sir John Conroy? Can this tiny girl prevail against the men who believe that women are too hysterical to rule? Everyone wants her to get married, but Victoria has no intention of entering into a marriage of convenience with her cousin Albert, a shy bookworm who didn't know how to dance the last time she met him. She would much rather reign alone with a little help from her Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne. He may be old enough to be her father, but he is the only man who believes that she will be a great Queen, and he knows how to make her laugh. A husband would only get in the way...
These are the first two books in this captivating historical fiction series that transports readers to a time when epic heroes rose amidst the tumult and war of the 9th Century. The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman are the first two books in Bernard Cornwell's No. 1 bestselling historical fiction series, THE LAST KINGDOM, which tells the tale of Alfred the Great, his descendants and the enemies they faced. Against their lives Bernard Cornwell has woven a story of divided loyalties, reluctant love and desperate heroism. In Uhtred, he has created one of his most captivating and heroic characters. BBC2's major TV show THE LAST KINGDOM is based on the first two books in the series. The box set includes: The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman.
Rome AD238. The Year of the Six Emperors. The empire is in turmoil. With the Gordiani, father and son, dead in Africa, the tyrant Maximinus Thrax vies to reclaim the throne. The Senate, who supported the revolt of the Gordiani, must act quickly to avoid the vengeance of Maximinus. They elect two Senators to share the imperial purple. But fighting erupts in the streets as ambitious men call for violent revolution. Can the new Augusti hold the city together as the empire’s farthest territories fight off bloody attacks from the Goths and the Persians in the east?
In the north of Italy, Maximinus descends on Aquileia. Against the odds, Menophilus, an old friend of the younger Gordian, prepares to defend the town. In one of the greatest sieges of the empire, its fate will be decided in a fight for victory, for revenge, for Rome. Filled with intrigue, betrayal and bloody battle, Fire & Sword creates a magnificent world built on brutality and political games, where no one is safe from retribution – not even those who dare to rule.
South Africa, 1900. The search for his missing son takes Joseph Radcliffe from the streets of Dublin, smouldering with rebellion, to the trackless veld of South Africa and the bloody brutality of the Anglo-Boer War. As a former cavalryman in the US army, Radcliffe is no stranger to war, but 800 miles north of Cape Town, under fire from Boer commandos and distrusted by the British forces, he will find his survival skills tested to the hilt. The Last Horseman is an epic tale of heroism and treachery, love and loyalty, set against the backdrop of a conflict that shook an empire to its core.
Now a major film starring Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin and Bill Nighy. It's 1940. In a small advertising agency in Soho, Catrin Cole writes snappy lines for Vida Elastic and So-Bee-Fee gravy browning. But the nation is in peril, all skills are transferable and there's a place in the war effort for those who have a knack with words. Catrin is conscripted into the world of propaganda films. After a short spell promoting the joy of swedes for the Ministry of Food, she finds herself writing dialogue for 'Just an Ordinary Wednesday', a heart-warming but largely fabricated 'true story' about rescue and romance on the beaches of Dunkirk. And as bombs start to fall on London, she discovers that there's just as much drama, comedy and passion behind the scenes as there is in front of the camera... Originally published as Their Finest Hour and a Half.
Before escape artist Harry Houdini died, he vowed he would find a way to speak to his beloved wife, Bess, from beyond the grave using a coded message known only to the two of them. But when a widowed Bess begins seeing this code in seemingly impossible places, it becomes clear that Harry has an urgent message to convey. Unlocking the puzzle will set Bess on a course back through the pair's extraordinary romance, which swept the illusionist and his bride from the beaches of Coney Island, to the palaces of Budapest, to the back lots of Hollywood. When the mystery finally leads Bess to the doorstep of a mysterious young photographer, she realizes that her husband's magic may have been more than just illusion.
1469: Although the Yorkist King Edward sits on his throne in Westminster, within his family there is discord as his former ally, the Earl of Warwick, continues to conspire against him. And while to one another's faces they are all smiles, their household men speak in lies and whispers. No man comes to court unarmed. As riot and rebellion stalk the land, so too do rumours of a secret, which, if proved true, will have devastating effects on the kingdom. Once again Thomas and Katherine Everingham are drawn into the fray by ruthless enemies and by past lives that refuse to be forgotten...
For lovers of Downton Abbey. In this dazzling stand-alone sequel to The Fairbairn Girls, a new generation of the Fairbairn family must confront - and overcome - life's difficulties as war looms. 1913: The aristocratic Fairbairns are reunited for Christmas when Lady Rothbury's daughter Diana invites the whole family to her estate. Laura, now a successful dressmaker, is the first to arrive with her daughter, Caroline, followed by Lady Rothbury, her five other daughters and their families. But as the New Year approaches, the family's happy reunion is about to be shattered. Affairs, war and tragedy are all on the horizon for the Fairbairn girls, who must negotiate new heartbreak and hardship. Will Caroline, who shows great talent as a ballet dancer, find her moment to shine? Are separations as irrevocable as they appear? Love, loss, forgiveness and joy thread through the lives of the Fairbairn family - but who will get their happy ending?