The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2022 Longlist

WalterScottPrizeThe longlist for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2022 was revealed on 7th February. As an avid reader of historical fiction I like to think I have my finger on the pulse when it comes to books likely to appear on the list but, as usual, it provided some surprises. You can read more about the longlisted books here. Congratulations to all the authors and publishers of the books on the longlist.

Walter Scott Prize 2022 longlist-lo-1-scaled-e1643915921160I’ve divided the thirteen novels on the list into three parts: those I’ve read and reviewed, those I own but have yet to read, and those that are completely new to me and, I suspect, many other readers.

Read and reviewed

Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks (Hutchinson Heinemann)
Mrs England by Stacey Halls (Manilla Press)
The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed (Viking)

Waiting to be read

Rose Nicholson by Andrew Greig (Riverrun)
China Room by Sunjeev Sahota (Harvill Secker)
Learwife by J.R Thorp (Canongate)
The Magician by Colm Tóibín (Viking)
Still Life by Sarah Winman (Fourth Estate)

New to me

Blue Postcards by Douglas Bruton (Fairlight Books)
The Ballad of Lord Edward and Citizen Small by Neil Jordan (Lilliput Press)
The Sunken Road by Ciaràn McMenamin (Harvill Secker)
News of the Dead by James Robertson (Hamish Hamilton)
Fortune by Amanda Smyth (Peepal Tree Press)

The shortlist will be announced in April by which time I hope to have read a few more of the longlisted books and perhaps be in a position to make a few predictions. Have you read any of the books on the list? Are there any you’re planning to read?

#BookReview Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud @FaberBooks

Love After LoveAbout the Book

Irrepressible Betty Ramdin, her shy son Solo and their marvellous lodger, Mr Chetan, form an unconventional household. Happy in their differences, they build a home together.

Home: the place keeping these three safe from an increasingly dangerous world – until the night when a glass of rum, a heart-to-heart and a terrible truth explodes the family unit, driving them apart.

Format: Paperback (410 pages)         Publisher: Faber
Publication date: 14th January 2021 Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Find Love After Love on Goodreads

Purchase links
Hive | Amazon UK
Links provided for convenience only, not as part of an affiliate programme

My Review

Winner of the Costa First Novel Award in 2020, Love After Love is the touching story of two rather lonely souls – Betty Ramdin and Mr Chetan, and Betty’s son Solo.  Betty is a widow who experienced violence during her marriage. Solo feels the absence of a father and is withdrawn and friendless. Mr Chetan has secrets of his own and longs to be part of family.  Through mutual affection and laughter, the three of them form a happy household unit. As Mr Chetan observes, ‘People have all kind of families’.  Unfortunately their amiable arrangement doesn’t last and Betty finds herself estranged from her son.

Over the course of several years, events in the lives of Betty, Solo and Mr Chetan encompass topics such as the plight of undocumented migrants in the United States, racial and sexual discrimination, and mental illness. The book explores whether a terrible act, even if carried out in order to protect another, can ever be forgiven and whether bonds which seem broken irrevocably can ever be mended.

The three characters are so well-drawn that it’s impossible not to feel both sympathy for – and, at times, frustration with – each of them as they face their different personal struggles, their disappointments and their shattered dreams. I found Mr Chetan’s story particularly affecting. I’ll admit to shedding tears at one point and silently begging the author, ‘No, you can’t do that!’  As Betty reflects, ‘We are forever getting more than we can bear. Always’.

Although it took me a while to adjust to the use of patois and the rhythm of the prose, it really brought the story alive and I enjoyed being introduced to Trinidadian idioms such as ‘I don’t want to put goat mouth on it’, ‘Every bread has its cheese’ or ‘Monkey know which tree to climb’.  (Sorry, you’ll have to look them up if you can’t work them out for yourself!) I also loved learning about the food, customs and culture of Trinidad.

Love After Love has been languishing in my TBR pile for several months and it was only because I needed a book to match a category in the What’s In A Name Challenge 2021 that I took it down from the bookshelf. I’m so glad I did. At times heart-warming and at others heart-breaking, I absolutely adored Love After Love and I can understand why it has garnered so much praise from readers.

In three words: Emotional, immersive, tender

Try something similar: This Lovely City by Louise Hare

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Ingrid PersaudAbout the Author

Born in Trinidad, Ingrid Persaud won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2017 and the BBC National Short Story Award in 2018. She read law at the LSE and was an academic before studying fine art at Goldsmiths and Central Saint Martins. Her writing has appeared in Granta, Prospect, the Guardian, the Independent, National Geographic, Five Dials and Pree magazines. She lives in London. (Photo: Twitter profile)

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