Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Two new and substantial historical novel reissues: Zemindar and Csardas

Reissues can bring new life and many new readers to older, classic novels.  Both Valerie Fitzgerald's Zemindar (1981) and Diane Pearson's Csardas (1975) were bestsellers in their day: massive, sweeping epics set during volatile historical eras.  Both have been compared to Gone with the Wind in terms of their scope and the quality of their storytelling.

Zemindar, a novel of adventure and romance set against the backdrop of a troubled 1850s India, won the Historical Novel Prize in Memory of Georgette Heyer as an unpublished manuscript and was published by The Bodley Head shortly thereafter.  When I was pulling together a list of the prize's winners in 2010, I wrote that it was a "prime candidate for reissue."  Zemindar, the author's only novel, was based on her grandmother's experiences during the Sepoy Mutiny.

Csardas, named after a traditional Hungarian folk dance, tells the story of two aristocratic Hungarian sisters whose lives and fortunes change dramatically during the two world wars.  Pearson, who has been writing since 1967, was president of the UK's Romantic Novelists Association for 25 years.

Both Zemindar and Csardas were reissued by the UK publisher Head of Zeus in trade paperback in 2014.  Check out the gorgeous new packaging!  My copy of the 1985 mass market paperback of Zemindar (which is in great condition but has teeny tiny print) stands in the background.



I'm looking forward to reading them both and would welcome the thoughts of anyone who's already read them. At the moment, American readers will have to order them from elsewhere, but I'll update you if there's more news on that score.  I'll provide some links here because there are multiple out of print editions on bookseller sites, which can make it hard to find the new ones.  Here are the UK buying options for Zemindar and Csardas on Head of Zeus's page (both are £15.00).  At other sites, such as Chapters.ca and Amazon.ca, I recommend searching by ISBN to find the right ones:  9781781857519 (Csardas), or 9781781859544 (Zemindar).

All of the books in the pic above were personal purchases.

Valerie Fitzgerald, who's in her 80s and living in Ottawa, recently gave an interview with the Ottawa Citizen in celebration of the re-release, speaking about her childhood in India, her writing career, and her thoughts looking back on Zemindar 34 years later. 

Since I'd written about Zemindar previously on the blog, her grandson's wife recently got in touch to tell me about the new edition, the newspaper interview, and another interview that Valerie Fitzgerald would be doing with CBC Radio.  That interview aired yesterday afternoon and is available at the CBC site.  It's 13 minutes long, and I found it completely fascinating to hear her discuss her life, the background to the book, some fun stories about the industry, and why she never wrote another novel.  I highly recommend taking the time to listen to it.

19 comments:

  1. I've not read Csardas, but have read Zemindar a number of times. My paperback copy is the 1982 edition. I'm pleased that it is being re-issued. It is definitely a classic. Hopefully many more will read it and be captivated by Laura Hewitt, Oliver Erskine and their wonderful story.

    Yvonne
    http://adarngoodread.blogspot.com.au/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Yvonne, thanks for reporting back on Zemindar. I'm eager to dive into it once my schedule clears up a bit. You have a wonderful blog! I just linked it up to my sidebar.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Sarah, for taking the time to visit my blog and for the link.


      Yvonne
      http://adarngoodread.blogspot.com.au/

      Delete
    3. Thanks for linking to my site too - I really appreciate it!

      Delete
  2. I remember reading Csardas. There are scenes from that book that are burned on my mind forever. A wonderful book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great to hear, Elena, now I'm even more eager to read it!

      Delete
  3. Zeminder is an all-time favorite, and Csardas has been on the wish list for a long time. Maybe now I can get it. Thanks for the update.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It looks like the type of book to get lost in for days. If you read it, I'll be interested to hear your thoughts.

      Delete
  4. I have the Zemindar one but it will have to wait until April as I my waiting to be reviewed list is huge right now. Looks great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your schedule must be jam packed with review books! I know the feeling.

      Delete
  5. As you know, Zemindar is on my list of books to read this year now that I've got my hands on a re-issued copy (thanks to your heads up that it was being re-issued), but Csardas is new to me. I'll definitely have to look out for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure where I heard about Csardas, but it wasn't until I got it in the mail that I realized it was from the same publisher. I wonder if they'll be reissuing anything else.

      Delete
  6. Csardas was one of the first historical novels I ever read as a child/adolescent. It was so long ago now that I don't remember details, but I know I liked it. My ancestry is Hungarian so that made it all the more interesting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How cool! That's sounds like my experience with Anya Seton's Katherine - it was one of the first historical novels I'd read. It was on a list of titles I could choose for my 9th grade English class, and I haven't really read it since, but it left a strong impression on me.

      Delete
  7. I read Csardas years ago and loved it! It made me search out the authors other titles, but Csardas was by far the best. It's odd this should appear here now as I recently thought about reading it again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the other title of hers I've read is The Summer of the Barshinskeys, although it's been so long ago I don't remember the plot well.

      Delete
  8. Great news on the republication of Zemindar. I recall, when she did not write another novel, some thought that Valerie Fitzgerald was a pen name of a male writer! But, good to hear that she is alive an well and living in Ottawa. Let's hope that following all this publicity and interest, she will pull out other manuscripts from her "boot box" and we will get to read some more fine historical fiction novels by her.

    ReplyDelete
  9. When I read this post in January, I bought both novels (old paperback copies) on Amazon. Have just finished reading Zemindar. Thanks for the recommendation!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad to hear the post encouraged you to buy them - thanks for letting me know!

      Delete