Saturday, January 24, 2009

Contest winner, and a Brigid Knight bibliography

Congratulations to C.W. Gortner, the winner of the Cloister and the Citadel book giveaway contest! I've sent you an email, and I hope you enjoy the book. I drew the winning entry at midnight EST on Friday from among the valid submissions, via an online random number generator.

Thanks to my fellow literary bloggers for spreading the word about Cloister by posting about it on your own blogs. This giveaway saw a record turnout (and I've hit a record for most comments on a single post as well). I've been enjoying browsing many of your sites over the last week and will be adding a bunch of them to my sidebar in the near future.

Brigid Knight is no longer with us, and her books are long out of print, so neither she nor her publisher can personally benefit from the associated publicity. However, for those of you who aren't familiar with her work and would like to investigate her novels further (something I would recommend), you can find them secondhand via and/or Amazon UK. If you so desire, you can easily locate several other copies of Cloister, which are quite reasonably priced. Her books are obscure, true, but they're not hard to find or expensive if you know where to look. They're good choices if you enjoy reading novels about the historical Netherlands and South Africa, settings few authors today are writing about.

Cloister is the third book of hers I've read, and all are written in the same clear, measured style. Brief descriptions of her other books follow.

Anne Marie and the Pale Pink Frock. An illustrated children's novel of the Great Trek in South Africa.

The Citadel is Yours. Contrary to the title, it has nothing to do with Cloister and the Citadel and is a modern medical novel.

The Covenant. "The adventures of a South African family of British descent during the Boer War and afterwards." (from a review in Time and Tide)

Dark Star. A historical novel set in 17th-century England.

The House of the Seagull and The House of the Swan. I know nothing about them other than the setting: the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries, respectively. There seems to be a third novel, The House of the Bird of Paradise, though it's not listed in the bibliography I own.

I Shall Maintain. This is third in a trilogy of novels about the Van Bredas of 17th-century Holland, following after I Struggle and I Rise and Old Amsterdam. It centers on Pieter's daughter and heiress, Hélène, who brings her father's great trading dreams to fruition.

I Struggle and I Rise. A family saga set in Amsterdam in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, focusing on the indomitable Anna Van Breda. The American title is The Valiant Lady; it was published in hardcover by Doubleday and in paperback by Popular Library in 1948.

Not by Any Single Man. A novel set on the coast of Kent during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. A review in The Observer compared it to the best of Du Maurier.

Old Amsterdam. A sequel to I Struggle and I Rise, it follows the fortunes of the Van Breda family in the 17th century, particularly one of Anna's grandsons, Pieter, a Dutch financier who falls in love with a distant relation. It has a lovely old-timey cover, pictured at above left.

Pattern of Escape. One bookseller lists it as a historical romance.

The Piping on the Wind. Another South Africa-set novel.

Portrait of a Woman. Per the review quoted on the back of another novel's jacket, it seems to be a a modern crime thriller.

Sea Dog of Holland. A bookseller's description: "The story of a boy and his dog who do their bit to help throw out the hated enemy - the Spanish, during the invasion of the Netherlands."

The Seventh Square. This direct sequel to The Cloister and the Citadel begins in the aftermath of the assassination of William the Silent, Prince of Orange. It follows the life of Maurice of Nassau, William's son by his second wife Anna of Saxony, a brilliant soldier who strived to carry out his father's legacy. Like Cloister, it's not a military novel, but it gives an excellent portrait of the political landscape of the Dutch Republic between 1585 and 1625.

The Sun Climbs Slowly. "A novel of life in South Africa during the time of the Jameson Raid and up to the outbreak of the South African War." (per a review in The Queen)

The Sword Between. No idea of the subject.

Walking the Whirlwind. A family saga centered on a woman and a house in early 19th-century Cape Town and environs, based on the reminiscences of the author's grandmother.

Westward the Sun
. Novel set in South Africa at the turn of the 20th century; it may be a sequel to The Sun Climbs Slowly.

Do you like seeing these bibliographies of older historical novels? Please let me know.


  1. Yay, C. W.!

    I enjoyed the bibliographies. Very handy--too often one can find the titles of an author's books, but not any indication of what they're about.

  2. I would enjoy hearing sometimes about these older books.

    Congratulations to C.W. Gorner!

  3. Thanks so much, Sarah! Wow, I'm thrilled. Honestly, I never win anything and I almost never enter any contests. I just really wanted to read this book! I'm really looking forward to it and will treasure it for life, as it's my first contest win and it comes from such a special friend :)

  4. Enjoy! I'll be curious if you feel it lives up to the hype (I'm still amused at the idea of hyping a 50-year-old book) and what you think about Knight's depiction of Catherine de Medici. She never appears in person, but events at the French court are central to the background to the novel -- as I'm sure you know.

  5. wow, that is wonderful! I have to be careful visiting here, as my book list grows to enormous lengths! But I just can't help myself.. congrats to your winner..

  6. Congrats to C.W for winning. Since the book is out of print I would like to encourage you to have a giveaway on your blog when you are done reading it. Just an idea.

  7. Congratulations to the winner!

    Yes, I like these bibliographies of older novels. Otherwise I wouldn't know to look out for them.

  8. Hi Sarah,
    On the back cover of "The Valient Lady", there is a little information about Bridig Knight. I quote:
    "Brigid Knight was born in the Cape Colony, South Africa, of English-Irish parentage. Most of her life has been spent in Africa, but she lived the war years in England. She is married to Stanley Charles Sinclair, deputy commissioner of police on the Gold Coast, and she has two sons at school in England. Miss Knight is presently at work on a novel which will have South Africa as its setting."
    I was amused to find that when I googled "Stanley Charles Sinclair" I found a supplement to the London-Gazette, mentioning him as deputy commissioner of police, Gold Coast. The supplement was dated 2 January, 1933!

  9. Thanks for that information! I've been meaning to read some of her other novels, including her South African ones.

  10. WESTWARD THE SUN is the American title for THE SUN CLIMBS SLOWLY. Also, WALKING THE WHIRLWIND in the UK and its sequel PIPING ON THE WIND were combined into one under the title, WALKING THE WHIRLWIND in the USA. Another South African novel she wrote is SOUTHERN STAR, which is set during World War 2. I have read all three/four of these novels and enjoyed them all, especially what I could learn from them about history in South Africa.

  11. Hi Shannon, thanks very much for this information!

  12. Hi Sarah,
    I have just found your Blog. It has helped me to understand and order some of these hopefully enjoyable historic reads!
    Sabe J Reid
    Melbourne Australia

  13. Hi Sabe, thanks for commenting, and glad the post has been helpful!