H for History February Highlights
Posted on: 26/01/2016 with tags: Book Recommendations, Reviews
The Road to Rangoon
In 1980s Burma, the British ambassador’s son goes missing.
Discovered in the north of the country, Michael Atwood is in imminent danger, trapped between sides fighting a bitter civil war and with no way of getting back to Rangoon. His best hope of salvation is to trust Thuza, a ruby smuggler who offers to help him escape. Beautiful and deeply scarred, Thuza has spent her entire life in a frontier town between rebel and government forces, never choosing a side but trying to make a living from both. For Thuza, the ambassador’s son is her ticket out of poverty. For Than, an ambitious military officer, exploiting those caught up in the war offers an opportunity for promotion and distinction.
But as all three learn to their cost, in this exotic, enigmatic and savage country, everyone has a price. This is a tale of ambition,
salvation and hope that confirms Lucy Cruickshanks as a master storyteller.
Pub date: 04.02.2016
An Honorary Citizen of the U.S.A., and designated as one of the Righteous among the Nations by Israel, Raoul Wallenberg’s heroism in Budapest at the height of the Holocaust saved countless lives, and ultimately cost him his own.
A series of unlikely coincidences led to the appointment of Wallenberg, by trade a poultry importer, as Sweden’s Special Envoy to Budapest in 1944. With remarkable bravery, Wallenberg created a system of protective passports, and sheltered thousands of desperate Jews in buildings he claimed were Swedish libraries and research institutes. As the war drew to a close, his invaluable work almost complete, Wallenberg voluntarily went to meet with the Soviet troops who were relieving the city. Arrested as a spy, Wallenberg disappeared into the depths of the Soviet system, never to be seen again.
For this seminal biography, Ingrid Carlberg has carried out unprecedented research into all elements of Wallenberg’s life, narrating with vigour and insight the story of a heroic life, and navigating with wisdom and sensitivity the truth about his disappearance and death.
Pub date: 11.02.2016
The Silvered Heart
1648: Civil war is devastating England. The privileged world of Katherine Ferrers is crumbling under Cromwell’s army and, as an orphaned heiress, she has no choice but to marry for the sake of family.
But as her marriage turns into a prison and her fortune is forfeit, Katherine becomes increasingly desperate. So when she meets a man who shows her a way out, she seizes the chance. It is dangerous and brutal, and she knows if they’re caught, there’s only one way it can end…
The mystery of Lady Katherine Ferrers, legendary highwaywoman, has captured the collective imagination of generations. Now,
based on the real woman, the original ‘Wicked Lady’ is brought gloriously to life in this tale of infatuation, betrayal and survival.
Pub date: 11.02.2016
Cake: A Slice of History
The delicious history of our favourite treat.
My sister had three wedding cakes. Rather than spend a lot of money on a traditional cake she asked our grandmother, our mother, and our step-mother to make their signature bakes.
In our family, as in many others, these familiar cakes that they made are the makers of memories. My siblings and I took this idea into our adult lives, and now bake for our own families.
But it wasn’t until I developed an interest in the history of food that I started to think about the deeper significance of these tasty treats. What does cake mean for different people? How have we come to have such a huge variety of cakes? What had to happen historically for them to appear? And what can they tell us about the family, and women’s roles in particular? I wrote this book to find out the answers.
What follows is a journey from King Alfred to our modern-day love of cupcakes, via Queen Victoria’s patriotic sandwich, the Southern States of America, slavery and the spice trade, to the rise of the celebrity chef . . . and so much more.
Pub date: 25.02.2016
Inspired by the lost voices of the Romany Holocaust this heartbreaking and tender novel will appeal to readers who loved Sophie’s Choice, Schindler’s Ark and The Book Thief.
Austria, 1944. Jakob, a gypsy boy – half Roma, half Yenish – runs, as he has been told to do. With shoes of sack cloth, still bloodstained with another’s blood, a stone clutched in one hand, a small wooden box in the other. He runs blindly, full of fear, empty of hope. For hope lies behind him in a green field with a tree that stands shaped like a Y.
He knows how to read the land, the sky. When to seek shelter, when not. He has grown up directing himself with the wind and the shadows. They are familiar to him. It is the loneliness that is not. He has never, until this time, been so alone.
‘Don’t be afraid, Jakob,’ his father has told him, his voice weak and wavering. ‘See the colours, my boy,’ he has whispered. So he does. Rusted ochre from a mossy bough. Steely white from the sap of the youngest tree. On and on, Jakob runs.
Spanning from one world war to another, taking us across England, Switzerland and Austria, Jakob’s Colours is about the painful legacies passed down from one generation to another, finding hope where there is no hope and colour where there is no colour.
The Butcher’s Hook
Georgian London, in the summer of 1763.
At nineteen, Anne Jaccob is awakened to the possibility of joy when she meets Fub, the butcher’s apprentice, and begins to imagine a life of passion with him.
The only daughter of well-to-do parents, Anne lives a sheltered life. Her home is a miserable place. Though her family want for nothing, her father is uncaring, her mother is ailing, and the baby brother who taught her to love is dead. Unfortunately her parents have already chosen a more suitable husband for her than Fub.
But Anne is a determined young woman, with an idiosyncratic moral compass. In the matter of pursuing her own happiness, she shows no fear or hesitation. Even if it means getting a little blood on her hands.
A vivid and surprising tale, The Butcher’s Hook brims with the colour and atmosphere of Georgian London, as seen through the eyes of a strange and memorable young woman.
‘Do you know what this is?’ He holds a short twist of thick metal, in the shape of the letter ’S’, sharpened at both ends. I shake my head.
‘A butcher’s hook,’ he says, testing the tip of his finger against each point. ‘A perfect design. Whichever way up you use it, it’s always ready. One end to hook, the other to hang. It has only one simple purpose.’ He stands on a stool and fixes it over the bar above him. It waits there, empty.
He climbs down. ‘Pleasing, isn’t it?’