The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2019: Some Contenders?

The deadline for publishers to submit books published in 2018 for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2019 is fast approaching (31st January).  Like other historical fiction fans, I shall be eagerly awaiting the announcement of the longlist and the ‘Academy Recommends’ list in February/March. Last year, I managed to read eight of the thirteen longlisted novels and all but one of the shortlisted novels.  You can find links to my reviews here.  This year I aim to read, if possible, all the longlisted novels (assuming I haven’t already read them).

There were some fantastic historical fiction novels published in 2018 and listed below are some I’ve read that I’d love to see make the longlist (subject to them meeting all the eligibility criteria).  In addition, there are some books in my TBR pile I haven’t got around to reading yet but which, judging from reviews, potentially deserve a place.  Finally, there are a few others that I’m yet to acquire but which also look like possible contenders for inclusion.

Check back when the longlist is announced to see how my picks match the judges’ choices – if at all!


Books I read and loved in 2018 (click on title for my review)

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (Vintage)

The Devil’s Half Mile by Paddy Hirsch (Corvus)

Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler (No Exit Press)

The Black Earth by Philip Kazan (Allison and Busby)

The Great Darkness by Jim Kelly (Allison and Busby)

The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason (Mantle)

The Good Doctor of Warsaw by Elisabeth Gifford (Corvus)

Nucleus (Tom Wilde #2) by Rory Clements (Bonnier Zaffre)

Mr. Peacock’s Possessions by Lydia Syson (Bonnier Zaffre)

The Poison Bed by E. C. Fremantle (Michel Joseph)

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola (Tinder Press)

Smile of the Wolf by Tim Leach (Head of Zeus)

Books in my TBR pile (click on title for Goodreads description)

Transcription by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday)

All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison (Bloomsbury)

Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller (Sceptre)

Books ‘on my RADAR’ (click on title for Goodreads description)

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje (Jonathan Cape)

Love Is Blind by William Boyd (Viking)

Is your favourite on my list?  What other historical fiction novels published in 2018 do you think deserve to be nominated?

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My Week in Books – 13th January ‘19

MyWeekinBooks

New arrivals  

the outrunThe Outrun by Amy Liptrot (paperback)

At the age of thirty, Amy Liptrot finds herself washed up back home on Orkney. Standing unstable on the island, she tries to come to terms with the addiction that has swallowed the last decade of her life.

As she spends her mornings swimming in the bracingly cold sea, her days tracking Orkney’s wildlife, and her nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy discovers how the wild can restore life and renew hope.

the sewing machineThe Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie (ebook, courtesy of Unbound and Random Things Tours)

It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again. Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents. His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams. He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.

the bindingThe Binding by Bridget Collins (ebook, courtesy of The Borough Press and NetGalley)

Imagine you could erase grief.
Imagine you could remove pain.
Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret.
Forever.

Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.

But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten.

the horseman's songThe Horseman’s Song (Captain Martin Bora #4) by Ben Pastor (eARC, courtesy of Bitter Lemon Press and Random Things Tours)

Spain, summer 1937. The civil war between Spanish nationalists and republicans rages. On the bloody sierras of Aragon, among Generalissimo Franco’s volunteers is Martin Bora, the twenty-something German officer and detective whose future adventures will be told in Lumen, Liar Moon, The Road to Ithaca and others in the Bora series.

Presently a lieutenant in the Spanish Foreign Legion, Bora lives the tragedy around him as an intoxicating epic, between idealism and youthful recklessness.

The first doubts, however, rise in Bora’ s mind when he happens on the body of Federico Garcia Lorca, a brilliant poet, progressive and homosexual. Who murdered him? Why? The official version does not convince Bora, who begins a perilous investigation. His inquiry paradoxically proceeds alongside that which is being carried out by an “enemy”: Philip Walton, an American member of the International Brigades. Soon enough the German and the New Englander will join forces, and their co-operation will not only culminate in a thrilling chase after a murderer, but also in a very human, existential face-to-face between two adversaries forever changed by their crime-solving encounter…

Pre-order The Horseman’s Song from Amazon UK


On What Cathy Read Next last week

Blog posts

Monday – I shared my sign-up post for the What’s In A Name Reading Challenge 2019.

Tuesday – The Top Ten Tuesday topic was Most Anticipated Releases in the First Half of 2019.  So many to choose from!

WednesdayWWW Wednesday is the opportunity to share what I’ve just read, what I’m currently reading and what I plan to read next…and have a good nose around to see what other bloggers are reading.   I also published my review of The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker by Jenni Keer, a feel-good story of friendship.   I also revealed my 2019 reading list for my Buchan of the Month reading project.

Saturday – As part of the social media tour, I published my review of dual-time novel A River in the Trees by debut author, Jaqueline O’Mahony.

As always, thanks to everyone who has liked, commented on or shared my blog posts on social media this week.


On What Cathy Read Next this week

Currently reading

Planned posts

  • Buchan of the Month: Introducing Prester John
  • Top Ten Tuesday: New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2018
  • Waiting on Wednesday
  • Blog Tour/Book Review: The Secret by Katharine Johnson
  • Throwback Thursday/Book Review: The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
  • Blog Tour/Book Review: The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola