An elegant, powerful novel, set in Victorian England, a time not so different from our own… perfect for fans of THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER and THE SHADOW OF THE WIND
Ambitious young journalist Thomas Kitson arrives at the battlefields of the Crimea as the London Courier’s man on the ground. It is a dangerous place, full of the worst horrors of war but Kitson is determined to make his mark. Under the tutelage of his hard-bitten Irish boss Cracknell, and assisted by artist Robert Styles, he sets about exposing the incompetence of the army generals.
Two years later, as Sebastopol burns, Thomas returns to England under mysterious circumstances. Desperate to forget the atrocities of the Crimea, he takes a job as a ‘street philosopher’, a society writer reporting on the gossip of the day. But on the eve of the great Art Treasures Exhibition, as Manchester prepares to welcome Queen Victoria, Thomas’s past returns to haunt him in the most horrifying way…
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‘A galloping good story’
‘Lust, avarice, envy, revenge all play their part in this brilliantly told, well-paced story, which also begs the question, so relevant today, of just how close to action journalists and recorders of war should be allowed’
‘Plampin’s historical research is impressive, as is his command of detail….his true gift of descriptive power’
Independent on Sunday
Matthew Plampin on Crompton, Corrigan and Cornwell...
1. What was your favourite childhood book?
The William series by Richmal Crompton. The hedgerows, villages and copses of 1930s England seemed like a fascinatingly alien place to me in 1980s Essex; I remember being particularly interested by the stories that dealt (albeit rather lightly) with spy-related paranoia on the eve of the Second World War.
2. Which book has made you laugh?
Any Dickens, but especially David Copperfield; a number of Herman Melville's short stories, particularly "Bartleby the Scrivener", although he makes you feel very guilty for that laugh; Joseph Heller's Catch-22, the great novel about the sheer absurdity of war. More recently, I chuckled at the mordant mocking of self-absorbed media types in Edward Docx's Self Help.
3. Which book has made you cry?
Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware - a poignant tale about family guilt, awkwardness and missed opportunities, rendered in one of the most strikingly original graphic styles I've seen. Mason and Dixon by Thomas Pynchon – after many hundreds of pages of post-modern trickery, the novel suddenly becomes an intensely moving study of loss.
4. Which book would you never have on your bookshelf?
Any form of misery memoir or celebrity autobiography. Which book are you reading at the moment? The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville; Lady Worsley's Whim by Hallie Rubenhold, an exploration of a notoriously torrid eighteenth-century divorce case; The Fall of Paris by Alistair Horne, a vivid account of the siege which ended the Franco-Prussian War.
5. Which book would you give as a present to a friend?
Anything by Chris Ware - beautiful, startling, affecting stuff that I suspect many people would not consider reading as they are graphic novels - but to my mind it's easily as engaging and intelligent as the majority of literary fiction. Very funny in places as well.
6. Which other writers do you admire?
To name only a few: Living: Peter Carey, Kate Grenville, Sarah Waters, Philip Roth, Beryl Bainbridge, Rose Tremain, James Ellroy, Gunter Grass, Chinua Achebe, Pat Barker. Dead: Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, George Eliot, Henry James, Joseph Heller, Saul Bellow, Raymond Chandler, Joseph Conrad, Angela Carter.
7. Which classic have you always meant to read and never got round to it?
Middlemarch by George Eliot. I have a pristine copy, in fact, untouched and huge, sitting accusingly on the shelf above my desk.
8. What are your top five books of all time, in order or otherwise?
No particular order:
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Book Description Harpercollins, 2009. Hard Cover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Brand new copy of the novel set during the Crimean War. Bookseller Inventory # 030779
Book Description HarperCollins, 2009. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX000727243X
Book Description Harper Collins, UK, 2009. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Edition. ***Brand New First Edition**** A very nice hardcover new and unused first edition, first printing with pristine tight white pages. The priced dustjacket is in pristine condition and looks super being protected in a brand new brodart clear archive removable cover. Will be wrapped in polyfoam prior to shipping in a strong cardboard box. Book. Bookseller Inventory # 017622