Back in May, on the recommendation of Lory, I added Hild by Nicola Griffith to my lengthy wish list. Browsing the latest edition of The Good Book Guide today I see the novel - which is based on the early life of St. Hilda of Whitby - is the 'Editor's Choice' in the historical fiction section, praised for its exhaustive research, page-turning qualities, characterisation, and the fineness of its 'cloth'. I've moved it up my list.
From my own recent reading I'd like to offer you three recommendations (and these books will all be appearing in next month's Guide):
Mr Mac and Me by Esther Freud, which I loved for its delicacy, its subtlety, its beautiful, restrained writing, and for the poignancy of its story, that of Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the Suffolk village of Walberswick at the beginning of the First World War; "a fine novel of art and nature, and of life's ebbs and flows."
The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse is the first novel of hers I've read, and on the strength of it it won't be the last. She describes herself as a storyteller, I believe, and this book clearly demonstrates that skill. A gripping gothic thriller again set on the south coast but this time in the very stormy spring of 1912, I was impressed by the way the central conceit is developed, and I admire the lengths the author went to for her research (the clue is in the title!) for this "compelling story of justice, and of a punishment to fit a crime".
First Impressions by Charlie Lovett is indeed, as its subtitle has it, a novel of old books, young love and Jane Austen, and if you've read Charlie's The Bookman's Tale, its style will be familiar. It's a literary romp set in Oxford and London in the present day and in Hampshire in the late 1700s, and it features the genesis of one of the greatest novels in the English language and a dastardly plot to discredit the blessed Jane. It's fast-paced and fun, and if at times it recalls the old silent movie 'pretty girl tied to the railway tracks by the evil villain' trope, it's none the worse for that!