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Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction shortlist

Honouring the achievements of the founding father of the historical novel, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction is one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world. With a total value of £30,000, it is unique for rewarding writing of exceptional quality which is set in the past.

Sweet Caress by William Boyd

“Born into Edwardian England, Amory Clay’s first memory is of her father standing on his head. She has memories of him returning on leave during the First World War. But his absences, both actual and emotional, are what she chiefly remembers. It is her photographer uncle Greville who supplies the emotional bond she needs, who, when he gives her a camera and some rudimentary lessons in photography, unleashes a passion that will irrevocably shape her future. A spell at boarding school ends abruptly and Amory begins an apprenticeship with Greville in London, photographing socialites for the magazine Beau Monde. But Amory is hungry for more and her search for life, love and artistic expression will take her to the demi monde of Berlin of the late ’20s, to New York of the ’30s, to the blackshirt riots in London, and to France in the Second World War, where she becomes one of the first women war photographers.” publisher 

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

“A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convention at every step. Even the beginnings of an illicit, dangerous affair do little to shake the foundations of his muted existence–until the shock of discovery and the threat of arrest cost him everything. Forced to abandon his wife and child, Harry signs up for emigration to the newly colonised Canadian prairies. Remote and unforgiving, his allotted homestead in a place called Winter is a world away from the golden suburbs of turn-of-the-century Edwardian England. And yet it is here, isolated in a seemingly harsh landscape, under the threat of war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism that the fight for survival will reveal in Harry an inner strength and capacity for love beyond anything he has ever known before.” publisher.

Mrs Engels by Gavin McCrea

“Very little is known about Lizzie Burns, the illiterate Irishwoman and longtime lover of Frederick Engels, coauthor of The Communist Manifesto. In Gavin McCrea’s debut novel, Lizzie is finally given a voice that won’t be forgotten. Lizzie is a poor worker in the Manchester, England, mill that Frederick owns. When they move to London to be closer to Karl Marx and family, she must learn to navigate the complex landscapes of Victorian society. We are privy to Lizzie’s intimate, wry views on Marx and Engels’s mission to spur revolution among the working classes, and to her ambivalence toward her newly circumstances. Yet despite their profound differences, Lizzie and Frederick are drawn together in this high-spirited love story.” publisher

End Games in Bordeaux by Allan Massie (not available in Canada)

“In the early summer of 1944, France is in turmoil. The Allied invasion, bringing the promise of Liberation, is awaited, eagerly and nervously. The Vichy regime is in its death throes. Those who have served it and collaborated with the German Occupation fear the revenge of the Resistance. Atrocities are committed on both sides, and justice is blind. Superintendent Lannes, suspended from duty by order of the Boches, searches unofficially for a missing girl, and investigates cases of historic sex abuse. His marriage is experiencing difficulties and he worries about his sons, one with the Free French, the other in Vichy. The narrative of this tense economical novel switches between Lannes in Bordeaux and the young characters met in the first three books of this Vichy Quartet, now caught up in the terrible drama of these months – in France, London and on the Eastern Front – and brings Allan Massie’s acclaimed series to its gripping climax.” publisher

Tightrope by Simon Mawer

“Marian Sutro has survived Ravensbruck and is now back in dreary 1950s London trying to pick up the pieces of her pre-war life. De-briefed by the same shadowy branch of the secret service that sent her to Paris to extract a French atomic scientist, Marian is now plunged into the cold war.  Simon Mawer’s sense of time and place is perfect and this is another compelling novel about identity and deception which constantly surprises the reader.” publisher

Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar (not available in Canada)

“Salt Creek, 1855, lies at the far reaches of the remote, beautiful and inhospitable coastal region, the Coorong, in the new province of South Australia. The area, just opened to graziers willing to chance their luck, becomes home to Stanton Finch and his large family, including fifteen-year-old Hester Finch. Once wealthy political activists, the Finch family has fallen on hard times. Cut adrift from the polite society they were raised to be part of, Hester and her siblings make connections where they can: with the few travellers that pass along the nearby stock route – among them a young artist, Charles – and the Ngarrindjeri people they have dispossessed. Over the years that pass, and Aboriginal boy, Tully, at first a friend, becomes part of the family. Stanton’s attempts to tame the harsh landscape bring ruin to the Ngarrindjeri people’s homes and livelihoods, and unleash a chain of events that will tear the family asunder.” publisher

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Welcome to The Reader, a blog from the Readers' Services staff at Halifax Public Libraries. Our goal is to create a forum for book news and related discussion among leisure readers. A place for Halifax leisure readers to interact with their library and the larger community of leisure readers.

 

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