Saturday, September 26, 2009

A visual preview of the spring season, part one

Here we go with another visual preview - a dozen or so examples of historical novels forthcoming in the first few months of 2010. I've been trying to mix up US and UK examples, although there aren't too many of the latter yet. This post has been in the works for the past two weeks, so without further ado...

Historical suspense focusing on a real-life murder case that gripped New York City in 1857: the late-night murder of dentist Dr. Harvey Burdell on the 2nd floor of his town house on 31 Bond Street. You can google for more info if you want, but I won't say any more here. Harper, March.

Terrell has previously written two multi-period novels of international intrigue (The Chrysalis and The Map Thief). Here she turns to her first mainstream historical novel with a story about St. Brigid and the early Irish church, billed as Girl with a Pearl Earring meets How the Irish Saved Civilization. It's set in the 5th century. Ballantine, March.

A biographical novel of Countess Eliza de Feuillide, Jane Austen's spirited cousin, whose life was much more exciting and scandalous than that of Austen herself. I'm not really into the current Austen trend, but I did read the author's Cassandra and Jane after a free copy appeared in my mailbox, and I have to say, I quite enjoyed it. Per Publishers Marketplace, this one was previously titled "Enchanting Eliza," but you know we have to get Jane's name in there. Harper, March.

A fictionalized biography of French Romantic poet and actress Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, a contemporary of Hugo and Baudelaire, whose marriage to a fellow actor is thrown aside after she meets Henri de Latouche. Their year-long affair inspired her most acclaimed works. This novel, in its original French, won the 2005 Prix du récit biographique of the Académie internationale des arts et collections. In case you can't read the small type, the title is The Last Rendezvous by Anne Plantagenet. Other Press, March.

In 15th-century Bruges, master painter Hans Memling becomes entangled in a political quagmire when he plays host to two English exiles who aren't who they appear to be. Methinks you might guess where this is heading, but the blurb promises surprises, as well as excellent depictions of the Flemish art world. (The protagonist is a historical character.) Macmillan New Writing, January.

If I were a historical novelist, I'd kill for a cover like this... it says "buy me" all over it. Described as "Spartacus for girls," this historical epic set in 1st century Rome recounts a love story between Thea, a Jewish slave girl, and a gladiator; the pair become embroiled in a plot to kill the Emperor. UK rights went to Headline. The author has a blog at Goodreads. Berkley, April.

A debut novel set in 1930s industrial England, about a motherless 13-year-old girl named Ruby, employed at a local fish & chips shop, whose life is transformed after the arrival of a mysterious white-haired woman. Per the Publishers Weekly deals writeup, it's drawn comparisons to Thomas Hardy's Wessex novels. The publisher has a book trailer/interview with the author on YouTube. UK rights went to Chatto & Windus. Spiegel & Grau, February.

Perry's standalone historical epic (544 pages, per Amazon) takes place during the waning years of the Byzantine Empire. In 13th-century Constantinople, a young woman named Anna disguises herself as a eunuch to clear her brother of a murder charge. A few years ago, I zoomed through all of Perry's Monk novels (that had been published so far) and only stopped because my TBR pile was making me feel guilty for ignoring it. Daphne previewed this novel earlier in the month, but I couldn't resist mentioning it again because it's one I'm highly anticipating; it's going to be one of those "drop everything and read it" books. Ballantine, 23 March; Headline, 1st April.

Another novel I've been waiting for ever since I spotted it in the publisher's catalog; how many other novels can you name that are set in colonial Louisiana? In 1704, Elisabeth sets sail from Louis XIV's France to become the bride of one of the settlers, beginning a journey she could not have anticipated. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, February.

In 17th-century England just after the Civil War (the period she wrote about in her earlier As Meat Loves Salt), Jonathan Dymond, a 26-year-old cider-maker, unravels a mystery of inheritance and family secrets sparked by a letter fragment found in the family's orchard. Faber, February.


  1. This is great, can't wait for part two!

  2. Aaarggh! So little time, so many intriguing books! Thank you for posting these.

  3. I always love your posts like this! Can't wait until more. :)

  4. I'm with you on the Mistress of Rome cover! And as a bonus, the book sounds fabulous!

    I'm a big Clare Clark fan, so I, too, am anxiously awaiting her new release. I love posts like this!


  5. Thanks for this Sarah! Quite a few books I'm going to want to feature on Scandalous Women. I read a non-fiction account about the Harvey Burdell murder which I blogged about early in the year, so I'm particulary excited about Ellen Horan's novel as well as the book about Jane Austen's cousin.

  6. These new books look great! Thanks for the update!

  7. Brigid looks good as does Mistress of Rome. I can't wait.

  8. These look lovely -- and I am a Janeite, so I'm extra-intrigued by the novel about Eliza de Feuillide. Thanks for posting this list!

  9. Elizabeth, there are definitely a few scandalous women in this group! It's interesting that the Burdell case is receiving renewed attention from two recent authors.

    Eliza de Feuillide is a fascinating character in her own right, and I hope the new novel deals with her own life as much as it covers her relationship with her cousin. As much as I enjoyed Pitkeathley's Cassandra and Jane, my one criticism was that Cassandra sometimes took a backseat to Jane in her own fictional memoir.

  10. Anonymous9:42 AM

    These look great! Like you, I am excited about Savage Land, the one set in colonial Louisiana. Great to see the early American settings getting some notice! The history of colonial Louisiana, with the battle between French, Spanish, and Americans for sovereignty, is fascinating!

  11. Oh, I just love it when you do the visual previews. I want to try most of the books here - the Anne Perry most of all.

  12. Sarah, great post. I'm very excited about The Master of Bruges and have been hearing good things about it.

  13. Thanks for your comments, all!

    Frances, I just came across another forthcoming novel set in colonial Louisiana and am planning on posting about it next time :)

  14. I'm looking forward to the release of most of these. Having lived in New Orleans for many years, I'm particularly interested in Savage Land and the "Evangeline" retelling you mention in part 2 of the preview.