About the Book A Book of Secrets tells the story of a West African girl hunting for her lost brother through an Elizabethan underworld of spies, plots and secret Catholic printing presses.
Susan Charlewood is taken from Ghana (then known as Guinea) as a baby. Brought to England, she grows up as maidservant in a wealthy Catholic household. Living under a Protestant Queen in late 16th Century England, the family risk imprisonment or death unless they keep their faith hidden.
When her mistress dies Susan is married off to a London printer who is deeply involved in the Catholic resistance. She finds herself embroiled in political and religious intrigue, all while trying to find her lost brother and discover the truth about her origins.
The book explores the perils of voicing dissent in a state that demands outward conformity, at a time when England is taking its first steps into the long shadow of transatlantic slavery and old certainties about the shape of the universe itself are crumbling.
A Book of Secrets gives a striking new perspective on the era and lets one of the thousands of lost Elizabethan voices, speak out loud.
Its spring 1920 in the small military town of Nandagiri in south-east India. Colonel Aylmer, commander of the Royal Irish Kildare Rangers, is in charge. A distance away, decently hidden from view, lies the native part of Nandagiri with its heaving bazaar, reeking streets and brothels. Everyone in Nandagiri knows their place and the part they were born to play – with one exception. The local Anglo-Indians, tainted by their mixed blood, belong . . . nowhere.
When news of the Black and Tans’ atrocities back in Ireland reaches the troops in India, even their priest cannot cool the men’s hot-headed rage. Politics vie with passion as Private Michael Flaherty pays court to Rose, Mrs Aylmer’s Anglo-Indian maid . . . but mutiny brings heroism and heartbreak in equal measure. Only the arrival of Colonel Aylmer’s grandson Richard, some 60 years later, will set off the reckoning, when those who were parted will be reunited, and those who were lost will be found again.
England 1917, and VAD nurse, Stella Marcham is home from the front after the death of her fiancé, Gerald Fitzwilliam. Broken by grief, and feeling trapped at home, she needs a change of scene. As it happens, her sister Madeleine is pregnant and feeling anxious at Greyswick, her husband’s family home, and when Hector, her brother-in-law, asks Stella to visit, she readily accepts.
Stella finds Greyswick to be the gauche house of a nouveau riche family. Dark, over-decorated, staffed only by Cook, Maisie the maid and the glowering Mrs Henge, it is not a happy place. Madeleine is anxious but she won’t say why. Slowly things start to fall into place and Stella starts to experience things she can’t explain.
Unfortunately, the lady of the house refuses to believe them. Hector arrives with an amateur supernatural investigator, Tristan Sheer, to convince the sisters that they’re being hysterical.
With Stella is Annie Burrows, maid and daughter of the man who died trying to rescue the youngest Marcham sister from a fire. Annie is unusual. She can see ghosts. And she knows who is haunting Madeleine and why. A decades old murder is at the root of their problems. So, in parallel with Sheen’s investigation, the women set about solving the murder to end the haunting.
Hull, 1930. A terrified woman runs through the dark, rain-lashed streets pursued by a man, desperate to reach the sanctuary of the local police station. Alice Goddard runs with one thing in her mind: her daughter. In her panic she is hit by a car at speed and rushed to hospital. When she awakes, she has no memory of who she is, but at night she dreams of being hunted by a man, and of a little girl.
As the weeks pass and her memories gradually resurface, Alice anxiously searches for her daughter, but no one is forthcoming about the girl’s whereabouts – even her own mother is evasive. Penniless and homeless, Alice must begin again and rebuild her life, never giving up hope that one day she will be reunited with her lost daughter
From 22nd – 29th August, The Lost
Daughter will be at the bargain price of 99p.
The final instalment of the Highbury trilogy, Dear Jane recounts events hinted at but never actually described in Jane Austen’s Emma; the formative childhood years of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill, their meeting in Weymouth and the agony of their secret engagement.
Orphaned Jane seems likely to be brought up in parochial Highbury until adoption by her papa’s old friend Colonel Campbell opens to her all the excitement and opportunities of London. Frank Weston is also transplanted from Highbury, adopted as heir to the wealthy Churchills and taken to their drear and inhospitable Yorkshire estate.
Readers of Emma will be familiar with the conclusion of Jane and Frank’s story, but Dear Jane pulls back the veil which Jane Austen drew over its remainder.
The new novel from Readers’ Favourite silver medalist Allie Cresswell.
Thirty years before the beginning of ‘Emma’ Mrs Bates is entirely different from the elderly, silent figure familiar to fans of Jane Austen’s fourth novel. She is comparatively young and beautiful, widowed – but ready to love again. She is the lynch-pin of Highbury society until the appalling Mrs Winwood arrives, very determined to hold sway over that ordered little town.
Miss Bates is as talkative aged twenty nine as she is in her later iteration, with a ghoulish fancy, seeing disaster in every cloud. When young Mr Woodhouse arrives looking for a plot for his new house, the two strike up a relationship characterised by their shared hypochondria, personal chariness and horror of draughts.
Jane, the other Miss Bates, is just seventeen and eager to leave the parochialism of Highbury behind her until handsome Lieutenant Weston comes home on furlough from the militia and sweeps her – quite literally – off her feet.
Mrs Bates of Highbury is the first of three novels by the Amazon #1 best-selling Allie Cresswell, which trace the pre-history of Emma and then run in parallel to it.
‘With echoes of Du Maurier, this compelling Cornish drama weaves a tangled web of fallen faiths, of sins, seductions and deceits.’ Essie Fox
A powerful debut exploring the dark side of Cornwall – the wrecking and the drowned sailors – where poverty drove villagers to dark deeds…
Shipwrecks are part of life in the remote village of Porthmorvoren, Cornwall. And as the sea washes the bodies of the drowned onto the beach, it also brings treasures: barrels of liquor, exotic fruit, the chance to lift a fine pair of boots from a corpse, maybe even a jewel or two.
When, after a fierce storm, Mary Blight rescues a man half-dead from the sea, she ignores the whispers of her neighbours and carries him home to nurse better. Gideon Stone is a Methodist minister from Newlyn, a married man. Touched by Mary’s sacrifice and horrified by the superstitions and pagan beliefs the villagers cling to, Gideon sets out to bring light and salvation to Porthmorvoren by building a chapel on the hill.
But the village has many secrets and not everyone wants to be saved. As Mary and Gideon find themselves increasingly drawn together, jealousy, rumour and suspicion is rife. Gideon has demons of his own to face, and soon Mary’s enemies are plotting against her
Gripping, beautifully written and utterly beguiling, Noel O’Reilly’s debut WRECKER is a story of love, injustice, superstition and salvation, set against Cornwall’s dark past