The Beresford by Will Carver

The Beresford by Will Carver

Summary:

Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford.

There’s a routine at The Beresford.

For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building.

Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate, Sythe, no longer does. Because Abe just killed him. 

In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers. 

And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door.

Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings…

Eerie, dark, superbly twisted and majestically plotted, The Beresford is the stunning standalone thriller from one of crime fiction’s most exciting names.

My Review:

There is something about Will Carver’s novels, I have been lucky enough to have read all of them so far and loved each one and his latest The Beresford (Orenda Books) is out in bookshops now and this is right up there with Carver’s previous novels but just be aware of the doorbell! There is something creepy about Will Carver and his books and his latest is no exception. It is dark, eerie and chilling.

Welcome to The Beresford this old building that has apartments, and some rather interesting tenants, except many won’t be around for long and so we hear the doorbell ring that heralds a new arrival.

The rates are cheap at The Beresford and so they come. We meet Mrs May whose age no-one really knows but guess. She has a daily routine; she makes coffee and lets it go cold because that is how she likes it. She even prays for many of the residents that come to stay. She prunes the roses and believes she knows everything that goes on at The Beresford.

Then we meet Abe, who seems like a nice guy, but Abe has just killed Sythe and has exactly sixty seconds to move the body. But Abe is a good person and did not want to kill Sythe. But just how is he going to dispose of the body?

The doorbell rings and a new arrival has come to stay, Blair Conroy has arrived finally away from her devout religious parents and now has the freedom to do want every she wants even with the bedroom door open.

Death awaits those who come to stay at The Beresford when the doorbell rings there is that dread of knowing that murder will follow, and each new arrival is a character, and each has their own story to be told.

Will Carver does write brilliant books and there is real humour to be found within the pages of The Beresford and you the reader are going to meet the residents as they arrive, their fate is sealed but are YOU going to judge them before they meet their fate?

But why are the people here committing murder? If the walls could speak what tales, they would tell of the goings on in this old apartment building. Of the people that come to stay and ultimately die. The Beresford is just a brilliantly chilling read in a way that only Will Carver can create. Is that the doorbell I have just heard?

276 Pages.

My thanks to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review copy of The Beresford by Will Carver.

The Beresford by Will Carver is released through published by Orenda Books and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

Translated by Rosie Hedger

Summary:

My Review:

Anne’s life is rushing to an unexpected and untimely end. But her diagnosis of terminal cancer isn’t just a shock for her and for her daughter Sigrid and granddaughter Mia it shines a spotlight onto their fractured and uncomfortable relationships.

On a spur-of-the moment trip to France the three generations of women reveal harboured secrets, long-held frustrations and suppressed desires, and learn humbling and heart-warming lessons about how life should be lived when death is so close.

With all of Helga Flatland’s trademark humour, razor-sharp wit and deep empathy, One Last Time examines the great dramas that can be found in ordinary lives, asks the questions that matter to us all and ultimately celebrates the resilience of the human spirit, in an exquisite, enchantingly beautiful novel that urges us to treasure and rethink … everything.

My Review:

Having really enjoyed A Modern Family I have been so looking forward to One Last Time (Orenda Books) and is Helga Flatland’s sixth novel and her second to be translated into English and beautifully translated by Rosie Hedger. I have become a fan of Helga Flatland’s writing as she does really bring a story alive with her characters.

Families can sometimes be complicated, and secrets can be kept and even cracks that appear are papered over. In One Last Time we follow the story of Anne who has been diagnosed cancer and the news is bleak. Now is a time for those close to Anne to come together and no more so than her daughter Sigrid but also for her granddaughter Mia.

In this family there have been many problems that have really caused cracks in the family to become much deeper which in turn has affected all the relationships in the family. The story focuses mainly on mother and daughter but not ignoring the problems that are occurring between Sigrid and her daughter Mia.

You may think that this is a novel that could be bleak and even dark, but with Helga Flatland you just know that she will bring something into the story even humour will find a way into the devastating storyline. Many novels can leave a lasting impression and is why I have come to love Flatland’s writing as this is a storyline that will leave a legacy on the reader as much as Anne only wants to leave only the positive of memories behind. This is a family trying to reconnect and trying to reconnect with themselves.

At the end of the day all we have is love and love can mend broken hearts and even broken families. The characters that have been created are characters you will come to know, and it is Anne and her strength and even humour when faced with what is to come.

Helga Flatland has again weaved a beautiful and emotive story and one to be cherished like life itself.

276 Pages.

My thanks to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review copy of One Last Time by Helga Flatland.

One Last Time by Helga Flatland is published by Orenda Books on 24th June 2021. Available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

Reckless by R.J. McBrien

Reckless by R.J. McBrien

Summary:

You think you’ll stay the same – you won’t. Infidelity will change you forever. There can be no going back.

Kirsten Calloway knows she should be grateful. She has a stable marriage, decent job, and a wonderful teenage daughter. But she also has a raging libido that won’t shut up, and a husband who’d rather go on a bike ride.

She bumps into an old friend at a school reunion who faces a similar problem. Dianne, though, has found the answer: a discreet agency which arranges casual sex for people just like them, people who want to keep their marriages but also scratch that itch.

Enter Zac: younger, handsome and everything Kirsten could hope for in bed. For a while, they seem to have it all. Kirsten even finds herself becoming a better wife and mother. But Zac wants more – a lot more, and he’ll stop at nothing to get it.

Sexually charged, shocking and relatable, Reckless is a profound exploration of marriage, motherhood and desire.

My Review:

Kirsten Galloway is bright and intelligent, and she is successful. She is happily married to Mark. She has a teenage daughter is just wonderful. What more in life could she possibly want? Reckless (Welbeck Publishing) by R.J. McBrien tells the story of Kirsten who is an Occupational Therapist at her local hospital, and this is the brilliant tense fast paced thriller that tells the story of a woman who has it all but knows there is something missing in her life.

Kirsten’s marriage is happy and stable but there is just that one thing missing and that is a spark, that physical part is missing, and Kirsten needs that part, but on the other side of the marriage is Mark and he just seems no longer interested in the physical aspect of the marriage.

It is then that Kirsten meets Dianne her friend from her school days and Dianne tells her of an agency that arranges linkups for one thing only and that is sex. All very discreet like it is wrapped in that plain wrapper and no-one will know what is going one not even the husband at home. Kirsten knows she wants this and then it becomes like a drug, that she cannot get enough of. Mark would much rather watch porn on a secret laptop in the loft, but Kirsten wants the real thing and is now in too deep. What started as a discreet liaison is now a full-blown nightmare.

Throughout the book there are sudden police reports about a body found along the railway line, so you are the reader, and you are reading and at the back of your mind you are putting this complex puzzle together. So, what does Kirsten really know about the body that has been found.

There are so many intriguing characters that you will come across in Reckless, I loved the way the story has been crafted and the characters you will want to scream at one minute yet feel for them the next. We all love a twist in a thriller and Reckless has it. But I am giving no clues here. The tension will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Marriage and desire and the risk of losing everything you have is all here. The perfect summer beach read.

448 Pages.

My thanks to Sophie Ransom (Midas PR) for the review copy of Reckless by R.J. McBrien

Reckless by R.J. McBrien is published by Welbeck 22nd July 2021. It is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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A Song Unsung by Fiona Cane

A Song Unsung by Fiona Cane

Summary:

Set against the bohemian backdrop of Soho’s jazz basements and coffee shops of the late fifties, and a Sussex village during the long hot summer of 1976, A Song Unsung is a coming-of-age story about an impressionable teenage girl who falls under the spell of a beautiful singer with a mysterious past.

Martha Palmer, an aspiring singer working in a coffee shop, is desperately short of cash. She’s been scouted by a photographer. The money’s good. But there’s a catch …Sussex 1976. Nothing much happens in teenager Natasha James’ life. Her mother has taken to her bed and her father, the local doctor, is preoccupied with his patients. But when the magnetic Martha Palmer moves into her village, Natasha is drawn into a glittery world of extravagant parties, steeped in the embroidered rhythms of jazz. But who is the mysterious Martha Palmer? And why is she the keeper of so many secrets? Desperate to fill in the gaps of Martha’s past, Natasha uncovers a heart-breaking love story, the truth of which threatens to destroy all that she holds dear.

My Review:

Firstly, apologies I am a few weeks late with my review due to an enforced break.

It was a few years ago now that I read The Other Side of the Mountain by Fiona Cane and really loved the story that was set in 2001 in Haiti. Fiona now returns with her latest novel which is now her fifth novel, A Song Unsung (Caracol Books) that if you like me, you love jazz music, then you will love the storyline as Jazz is very much the backdrop.

This is a remarkable novel so beautifully constructed with two leading characters in Martha and Natasha and two decades being the 1950’s and the 1970’s.

First, we meet Martha Palmer in Soho, London and it is 1958. Martha is basically just existing and is struggling to make ends meet since leaving home and she is desperate to just earn enough to pay her rent. There is however one thing that Martha does love and that is to sing. She dreams of being a singer, but these are just dreams of another life as right now Martha is at dead end and is now desperate for cash. Then one day she happens to meet someone who change her life and this encounter leads to her to meeting a photographer. Sometimes when a promise of a new life comes up there is always a catch.

Fast forward to Sussex in 1976 and a young Natasha James is thinking that her own life is bored and that something is really missing in her life to give her that spark. With her mother who has withdrawn from life and a father who is a doctor and seemingly more interested in his practice than home. Then that missing spark arrives when Martha Palmer has moved into the local area and Natasha is captivated by her.

But behind the Martha there are so many secrets that she is desperate to keep locked away, but Natasha is more than just captivated by her, she is wants to know more about Martha Palmer and this is where there is a whole new story of a past, a love story that could really threaten everything.

I have had a love of jazz music for longer than I can recall and having spent many years in London and the sights and sounds of jazz clubs this brought back memories and Fiona’s writing about the music is really a story that comes alive to the soundtrack to jazz music. I enjoyed both the leading characters thought both different people they both have real personalities for different reasons.

There is a story that lurks beneath, and you do not know how this is going to go as you read through A Song Unsung as there are many secrets that are like a jigsaw puzzle just waiting to be pieced together.

If you are looking for a book for that summer weekend away, then I would recommend Fiona Cane’s latest and make sure you have a jazz soundtrack to play in the background.

346 Pages.

@FiBee49

https://fionacane.com/

My thanks to Fiona Cane for the review copy of A Song Unsung.

A Song Unsung is published by Caracol Books and was released on 20th May 2021 and is available to order through Amazon.

Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl

Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl

Summary:

Alone and isolated in a vast Scandinavian forest, a therapist begins to read her client’s novel manuscript, only to discover the main character is terrifyingly familiar…

You are her therapist.

Kristina is a successful therapist in central Oslo. She spends her days helping clients navigate their lives with a cool professionalism that has got her to the top.

She is your client.

But when her client Leah, a successful novelist, arrives at her office clearly distressed, begging Kristina to come to her remote cabin in the woods, she feels the balance begin to slip.

But out here in the woods.

When Leah fails to turn up to her next two sessions, Kristina reluctantly heads out into the wilderness to find her.

Nothing is as it seems.

Alone and isolated, Kristina finds Leah’s unfinished manuscript, and as she reads she realises the main character is terrifyingly familiar…

My Review:

Deep in a Scandinavian Forest is an isolated cabin that belongs to Leah Iverson who is a well-known and popular writer. Dr Kristina Moss is a successful psychotherapist. When Leah arrives at Kristina’s office, Kristina knows something is not right and when Leah starts to ask her to come to her remote cabin set deep in the woods where the silence can be loud. You just know you are about to read a creepy and claustrophobic and tense novel. Cabin Fever (Head of Zeus) by Alex Dahl. If you enjoy Scandi Noir then do not miss this.

There is something about a thriller set deep in a Scandinavian forest that sends a shiver down my spine and Alex Dahl did just that in her latest thriller Cabin Fever that is released today. When Kristina is asked to join Leah, who is her patient at her cabin deep in the forest, things start to really get tense for the reader.

Leah disappears and Kristina sets out to find her alone in a deep creepy forest, but that is not all, Kristina finds the latest manuscript that Leah has been working on and now the story gets intense. Your pulse is racing, and your palms are sweating. Now Kristina suddenly realises she is in real danger. This is an intense thriller, as dark as a Scandinavian forest at night. Beautifully crafted with key characters in Kristina and Leah that are troubled with pasts that they cannot escape from.

What Alex Dahl has done is to write a novel with so many twists and turns that will make your head spin. The descriptions of the location are superb scene setters for what is to come. Then there is the ending. No spoilers as you care going to have to prepare to spend some time deep in the forest and find out for yourself. You will not be disappointed.

400 Pages.

@alexdahlauthor

#CabinFever

@HoZ_Books

My thanks to Sofia Saghi (Midas PR) and Head of Zeus for the review copy of Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl.

Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl is published by Head of Zeus on 8th July 2021. Available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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Unbreak your Heart by Katie Marsh

Unbreak your Heart by Katie Marsh

Summary:

Seven-year-old Jake’s heart is failing and he doesn’t want to leave his dad, Simon, alone. So he makes a decision: to find Simon someone to love before he goes.

Beth is determined to forget the past. But even when she leaves New York to start afresh in a Lake District village, she can’t shake the secrets that haunt her.

Single dad Simon still holds a candle for the woman who left him years ago. Every day is a struggle to earn a living while caring for his beloved son. He has no time for finding someone new.

But Jake is determined his plan will succeed – and what unfolds will change all three of them forever.

My Review:

I have been a fan of Katie Marsh’s writing since her debut novel My Everything that became a bestseller in 2015. Katie now returns with her latest Unbreak Your Heart (Hodder). A story of broken hearts and is also a love story that will make you laugh and will move you.

Katie has a real gift for writing such beautiful novels, the characters she creates for her stories are so real and here in Unbreak Your Heart There are three main characters in her latest novel.

Beth has left her life behind in New York and starting a new life in the beautiful setting of the Lake District, a place that can heal many a broken heart, but Beth is struggling to leave her past life behind. Sometimes life throws up chance encounters that were always meant to be and it is a sudden encounter with seven-year-old Jake, that is just such an encounter even if the first meeting is an accident. Simon is Jake’s father, and we get to meet the three characters stories as Jake is suffering from a heart condition, Simon is a single father and Jake is fully aware of his heart problem and his fear is that one day he will be leaving his dad alone and so wants to find someone to be there for the father he loves so much. Jake’s condition is so serious that Simon is not able to work and so he spends his days with his son.

Life can be a real struggle in a situation where you are a single parent alone and looking after your child whose health is so serious and the financial implications this brings. At this point I am not going to give any more away as I want you to discover the story of Beth, Jake, and Simon. It is a story that is just so full of love, and you will begin to understand why each day is so important and just how important it is to love.

Yes, Katie Marsh you have done it again.  

432 Pages.

My thanks to Niamh Anderson and Hodder Books for the review copy of Unbreak Your Heart by Katie Marsh.

Unbreak Your Heart is published by Hodder and was published on 27th May 2021. Available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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Oracle by Julie Anderson

Oracle by Julie Anderson

Summary:

High on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, near the ancient Temple of Apollo, a group of young idealists protest against the despoiling of the planet outside a European governmental conference. Inside, corporate business lobbyists mingle with lawmakers, seeking profit and influence. Then the charismatic leader of the protest goes missing.

Oracle is about justice, from the brutal, archaic form of blood vengeance prevalent in early human societies to modern systems of law and jurisprudence, set in the context of a democracy. This is the law and equality under the law which allows democracy to thrive and underpins the freedoms and safeguards for individuals within it. The story is interlinked with Greece’s past, as the ancient cradle of democracy and source of many of western ideas of government, but also to its more recent and violent past of military strongmen and authoritarianism in the twentieth century.

Oracle also considers, in the form of a crime thriller, the politicisation of the police and the justice system and how that will undermine justice, especially following the banning of Golden Dawn, the now criminal organisation which wrapped itself in the mantle of politics. It touches on the new academic discipline of zemiology, the study of ‘crime’ through the prism of the harm it does to people, especially those without power.

My Review:

Last year I read the brilliant Plague by Julie Anderson and she has followed this up with her latest Oracle which is out now via Claret Press, and I have to say it is just as good as Plague. It is great to catch up again with Cassandra Fortune, she is one strong leading character and now she is back but not in the role you may recall if you have read the first in the series. Cassie has been sent to Greece at the behest of the Prime Minister to a conference. But a murder soon will stalk the conference centre.

Cassie has been given the role of getting a visit to London the of the fellow ministers and it is in the mountains close to the Temple of Apollo that the conference is being held but nearby an environmentalist group are protesting. Cassie is with her interpreter Helena but Cassie’s main reason for being in Greece is suddenly thrown into confusion after the body of a young woman is found, if this is not bad enough a second body is found that of an academic. Now Cassie together with Helena and the security chief Yannis, they must discover what happened to both with the worry that a killer could be stalking the conference.

Cassie still raw after what happened to her previously clearly wants this cleared up and fast but now, she is drawn into the investigation but is there a direct threat to her very own personal security.

When a major conference hits town with many minsters present there is always groups protesting with agendas on many sides and this adds to the confusion as tension rises.

Julie Anderson has written a blinding thriller that is fast paced and set in the beautiful location that she sets out for the reader and the characters really come to life as the scene is set for another brilliant novel involving Cassandra Fortune and look out for the ending. I am already looking forward to book three.

If you have not read Plague before now, go, and treat yourself when you buy a copy of Oracle. You will not be disappointed.

286 Pages.

My thanks to Julie Anderson and Claret Press for the review copy of Oracle.

Oracle by Julie Anderson is published is Claret Press 2021and released on 5th May 2021 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

The Puma Years by Laura Coleman

The Puma Years by Laura Coleman

Summary:

Laura was in her early twenties and directionless when she quit her job to backpack in Bolivia. Fate landed her at a wildlife sanctuary on the edge of the Amazon jungle where she was assigned to a beautiful and complex puma named Wayra. Wide-eyed, inexperienced, and comically terrified, Laura made the scrappy, make-do camp her home. And in Wayra, she made a friend for life.

They weren’t alone, not with over a hundred quirky animals to care for, each lost and hurt in their own way: a pair of suicidal, bra-stealing monkeys, a frustrated parrot desperate to fly, and a pig with a wicked sense of humor. The humans too were cause for laughter and tears. There were animal whisperers, committed staff, wildly devoted volunteers, handsome heartbreakers, and a machete-wielding prom queen who carried Laura through. Most of all, there was the jungle—lyrical and alive—and there was Wayra, who would ultimately teach Laura so much about love, healing, and the person she was capable of becoming.

Set against a turbulent and poignant backdrop of deforestation, the illegal pet trade, and forest fires, The Puma Years explores what happens when two desperate creatures in need of rescue find one another.

My Review:

There is a quote on the front cover by Jane Goodall and she says, “You will love this book” and indeed I really did. I read The Puma Years (Little A) by Laura Coleman in one sitting. Laura’s memoir is so inspirational. When Laura was in her twenties, she walked away from her job packed her backpack and headed off into the Amazon jungle.

It is a brave thing to do just to walk away from your job and head off to Bolivia but what happened next is simply breathtaking. Two months into her three- month trip to Bolivia, Laura found her way to an animal sanctuary deep in the jungle to look after animals that were part of the worldwide illegal pet trade, this would change her life forever.

Within the sanctuary there were around 100 animals of all kinds to look after, many will never be wild again so they will spend their days within the sanctuary. But when Laura arrived it was the camps living conditions that at first would challenge her. Suffice to say that I will not go into detail, but many would not be able to cope with the conditions let alone the Mosquitoes and rats. But no sooner had Laura had arrived than it was time to introduce her to a stunning but also a complex Puma called Wayra. Coming face to face with a puma must have been scary beyond words. But this was to become a relationship and a friendship that would last. It takes time for a puma to get to know you and the trust and bond would be so strong.

But this is not just about Wayra, because you get to meet so many other of the quirky animals of the sanctuary. There is the pig with a sense of humour and a pair of monkeys that seem to have a thing stealing bras from the living quarters.

Deep in the jungle there is so much to discover, and it was here that Laura found Wayra and it was Wayra found Laura and together they seem to help each other. It is so beautifully written and through Laura’s words you can almost get a sense of the sights and sounds of the jungle.

When you purchase a copy of The Puma Years by Laura Coleman proceeds will be going to support Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi

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Sword of Bone by Anthony Rhodes

Sword of Bone by Anthony Rhodes

Summary:

It is September 1939. Shortly after war is declared, Anthony Rhodes is sent to France, serving with the British Army. His days are filled with the minutiae and mundanities of Army life – friendships, billeting, administration – as the months of the ‘Phoney War’ quickly pass and the conflict seems a distant prospect.
It is only in the spring of 1940 that the true situation becomes clear; the men are ordered to retreat to the coast and the beaches of Dunkirk, where they face a desperate and terrifying wait for evacuation.

My Review:

I am delighted to be reviewing another in the Wartime Classics series by The Imperial War Museum. Sword of Bone by Anthony Rhodes and was first published in 1942 and is based on the authors own experiences of life in the British Army during the opening weeks of WWII and then being evacuated at Dunkirk.

When Britain declared war on Germany on 3rd September 1939 many believed that the war would be over very quickly, and many soldiers also believed that the war would be akin to WWI with fighting in the trenches. But what happened in those early weeks was called the ‘phoney war’ with British troops sent to France and many enjoying the French hospitality. But that was soon to end with the German blitzkrieg as they stormed in Belgium and then France and British troops began to head to the coast with Dunkirk becoming the focal point as they gathered in the hope of being rescued and shipped back home.

Very much written with the author recounting his time and memories of what it was like arriving in France and life seemingly carrying on as normal, there are some humorous moments but with the fighting getting ever closer and those in command realising they could be defeated and so the order to retreat was made and the beaches at Dunkirk were packed with hundreds of thousand of British troops trying to escape but even when they arrived at Dunkirk the German Luftwaffe would attack the troops and ships.

A slow burn of a book to read but once the retreat is ordered the book began to pick up. But it is another book to add the collection of Wartime Classics if you are collecting the series.

@I_W_M

#WartimeClassics

@angelamarymor

@RandonTTours

336 Pages.

My thanks to Imperial War Museum and RandonTTours for the review copy of Sword of Bone by Anthony Rhodes.

Sword of Bone by Anthony Rhodes is published by Imperial War Museum Books   and was on published on 20th May 2021 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin

Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin

Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2021

Summary:

In 402 AD, after invading tribes broke through the Alpine frontiers of Italy and threatened the imperial government in Milan, the young Emperor Honorius made the momentous decision to move his capital to a small, easy defendable city in the Po estuary – Ravenna. From then until 751 AD, Ravenna was first the capital of the Western Roman Empire, then that of the immense kingdom of Theoderic the Goth and finally the centre of Byzantine power in Italy.

In this engrossing account Judith Herrin explains how scholars, lawyers, doctors, craftsmen, cosmologists and religious luminaries were drawn to Ravenna where they created a cultural and political capital that dominated northern Italy and the Adriatic. As she traces the lives of Ravenna’s rulers, chroniclers and inhabitants, Herrin shows how the city became the meeting place of Greek, Latin, Christian and barbarian cultures and the pivot between East and West. The book offers a fresh account of the waning of Rome, the Gothic and Lombard invasions, the rise of Islam and the devastating divisions within Christianity. It argues that the fifth to eighth centuries should not be perceived as a time of decline from antiquity but rather, thanks to Byzantium, as one of great creativity – the period of ‘Early Christendom’. These were the formative centuries of Europe.

While Ravenna’s palaces have crumbled, its churches have survived. In them, Catholic Romans and Arian Goths competed to produce an unrivalled concentration of spectacular mosaics, many of which still astonish visitors today. Beautifully illustrated with specially commissioned photographs, and drawing on the latest archaeological and documentary discoveries, Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe brings the early Middle Ages to life through the history of this dazzling city.

My Review:

Over the years I have learned a lot about Ravenna and the mosaics in the churches. As a lover of history, it is one of those must-see places. On this year’s Wolfson History Prize shortlist is Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe (Allen Lane) by Judith Herrin tells of how Ravenna became the Western Capital of the Roman Empire, but it did not stop there. We all know the history of Rome and how it was the centre of the Roman Empire. But situated in the North of Italy is Ravenna and its rich place in history.

From 402 until its collapse in 476 Ravenna was the capital of the Roman Empire, and then the Kingdom of Theoderic the Goth and then that of the Byzantine empire.

Judith Herrin has written a sumptuous book that is beautifully illustrated, and the research is incredible. If you have a real interest in the history of Europe, then this is a book I would add to your reading list. Going through this part of history Ravenna changed hands so many times. There is so much incredible artwork on show through Herrin’s book that will entice the reader to add Ravenna to their places of interest, it is not just the mosaics that have remained but there are also important documents that date back to the fifth century.

What Judith Herrin does is tell the story of Ravenna in short chapters from the fourth century to the ninth that are fascinating and throughout there are the beautiful illustrations which just add to the interest of Ravenna and its place in history of its rulers and the politics.

Lord Byron made Ravenna his home from 1819 to 1821, anyone who has read Mary Shelly’s The Last Man will know of Ravenna and Oscar Wilde wrote a poem called Ravenna in 1878 and the poem features in the opening pages of Judith Herrin’s outstanding Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe.

One of six books Shortlisted for The Wolfson History Prize 2021 with the virtual prize ceremony taking place at 6pm Wednesday 9th June. I am extremely honoured once again to be taking part in the blog tour to cover one of the six books on the shortlist.

#WolfsonHistoryPrize

This year’s winner will be announced on Wednesday 9th June.

To find out more about the Wolfson History Prize visit their website: https://www.wolfsonhistoryprize.org.uk/

576 Pages.

My thanks to Ben McCluskey and Midas PR for the invitation to take part in this year’s blog tour.

Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin is published by Allen Lane on 27th August 2020 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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