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How the Massachusetts Coast Inspired the Setting for Elizabeth Lowry’s Dark Water

Posted on: 17/09/2018

Dark Water grew out of a love of the Massachusetts coast, and of Poe and Melville, and of their maverick nineteenth-century American sensibility. Those quest tales of land and sea, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym and Moby-Dick, are archetypal stories of escape from home and family, of a rite of passage; each, in its own way, charting the contradictions and tensions of American society at a time of great change. I wanted to write a story which shared not just the landscape (and seascapes) of t…

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Reading Guide for Karen Maitland’s A GATHERING OF GHOSTS

Posted on: 07/09/2018 with tags: A Gathering of Ghosts, Discussion Guide, karen maitland, reading groups, Reading Guide, Medieval, Middle Ages

We think that Karen Maitland’s A GATHERING OF GHOSTS would be a great choice for reading groups – particularly those who like reading historical fiction. If you do choose it here are some questions to help your discussions! ‘You can stamp and frown as much as you please, Mistress, but this is a battle I am going to win.’ Prioress Johanne rules the priory with a firm hand, but her authority is challenged with the arrival of Knight Brother Nicholas. To what extent is this book about power? The wel…

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The facts behind the e-short, The Unhappiest Lady in Christendom – Alison Weir

Posted on: 06/09/2018 with tags: alison weir, henry viii, Jane Seymour, Six Tudor Queens, The Unhappiest Lady In Christendom, Tudor

‘Lord! What lamentation shortly after was made for the death of Queen Jane, and of none in this realm was it more heavily taken than of the King’s Majesty himself.’ Jane Seymour’s passing at 2am on 24 October 1537 ‘was as heavy to the King as ever was heard tell of. Directly she expired, he withdrew himself, as not to be spoken to by anyone.’ Henry VIII could not bear anything to do with death. That morning his horror of remaining in the same house as Jane’s corpse got the better of him, and he…

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Goblin Gold by Karen Maitland

Posted on: 05/09/2018 with tags: Gathering of Ghosts, Goblin Gold, karen maitland, Medieval, Middle Ages

In A Gathering of Ghosts, pilgrims visiting the holy well beneath the priory see the rock walls of the cave shimmering with gold. I’m sure that some readers will think that is a detail I simply invented, but this is a case where fact is as strange and amazing as fiction. For centuries, people on Dartmoor walking past caves, ancient stone huts or even old rabbit holes would glimpse something shining like gold inside. But, when they reached in to grab it, they found themselves clutching only a han…

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