Books

London, 1woman in the picture paperback926. Evie Gifford, one of the first female lawyers in Britain, is not a woman who lets convention get in her way. She has left her family home following a devastating love affair, much to her mother’s disapproval.
London is tense in the days leading up to the General Strike and Evelyn throws herself into two very different cases – one involving a family with links to the unions and the other a rich man who claims not to be the father of his wife’s child. Evie is confronting the hardest challenge of her career when she is faced with an unexpected proposal – just as her former lover returns. How can she possibly choose between security with a man she admires and passion for the man who betrayed her?

Season of Light cover1788. Asa Ardleigh, the impressionable daughter of a country squire, has travelled to Paris with her sister Philippa and Philippa’s new husband. In the heady days before the Revolution, they find a city fizzing with new ideas – and Asa meets and falls in love with a dashing revolutionary, Didier Paulin. When Asa is forced to return to England, their affair is curtailed, but they continue to exchange letters as storm clouds gather over France and war with England looms.

Back in England, no one knows of Asa’s liaison as the family’s financial worries put pressure on her to marry. But then disturbing news reaches Asa from France, and she must decide whether to follow her head or her heart…

crimson_roomsLiving at home with her mother, aunt, and grandmother, Evelyn is still haunted by the death of her younger brother James in the First World War. She is also determined to make a career for herself as one of the first female lawyers. So when the doorbell rings late one night and a woman appears, claiming to have mothered James’s child, her world is turned upside down. Evelyn distrusts Meredith at first, but also finds that this new arrival challenges her work-obsessed lifestyle. So far her legal career has not set the world alight. But then two cases arise that make Evelyn realise perhaps she can make a difference. The first concerns a woman called Leah Marchant whose children have been taken away from her simply because she is poor. The second, Stephen Wheeler, has been charged with murdering his own wife. It is clear that Wheeler is innocent but he won’t talk. In the meantime, Meredith makes an earth-shattering accusation about James – and Evelyn falls in love with a man engaged to be married. With the Wheeler case coming to a head, and her heart in limbo, Evelyn takes matters into her own hands…

RoseofSebastopol_US_FINALRussia, 1854: the Crimean War grinds on, and as the bitter winter draws near, the battlefield hospitals fill with dying men. In defiance of Florence Nightingale, Rosa Barr – young, headstrong and beautiful – travels to Balaklava, determined to save as many of the wounded as she can. For Mariella Lingwood, Rosa’s cousin, the war is contained within the pages of her scrapbook, in her London sewing circle, and in the letters she receives from Henry, her fiancé, a celebrated surgeon who has also volunteered to work within the shadow of guns. When Henry falls ill and is sent to recuperate in Italy, Mariella impulsively decides she must go to him. But upon their arrival at his lodgings, she and her maid make a heartbreaking discovery: Rosa has disappeared. Following the trail of her elusive and captivating cousin, Mariella’s epic journey takes her from the domestic restraint of Victorian London to the ravaged landscape of the Crimea and the tragic city of Sebastopol. As she ventures deeper into the dark heart of the conflict, Mariella’s ordered world begins to crumble and she finds she has much to learn about secrecy, faithfulness and love.

Alchemists DDark secrets haunt the manor house at Selden in Buckinghamshire, where Emilie Selden, motherless, fiercely intelligent and beautiful, has been raised in near isolation by her father. John Selden, student of Isaac Newton, is conducting a secret experiment. He aims to turn Emilie into a brilliant natural philosopher and alchemist and fills her with knowledge while recording every step she takes. In the spring of 1725, when Emilie is eighteen, father and daughter begin their most daring adventure – an attempt to breathe life into dead matter. But they are interrupted by the arrival of two strangers. During the course of a sultry August, Emilie is caught up in the passion of first love and, listening for the first time to her heart rather than her head, she makes her choice – with consequences that are far-reaching and tumultuous.

After MaryA love story set in turbulent seventeenth-century England. This is the story of Isabel Stanhope, the daughter of a seventeenth-century English Catholic family, who becomes involved with the dangerous political and religious factions of the day. Based in part on the true story of Mary Ward, one of the seventeenth century’s most adventurous, infuriating and inspirational women. Mary Ward was a woman in constant battle with authority, and her determination to establish a female Jesuit order led her into great danger.

forum_confinementIn the spring of 1849, the bright and headstrong Bess Hardemon arrives at Priors Heath School for the Daughters of the Clergy to take up a post as schoolmistress. Under the austere gaze of the founder, the Reverend Carnegie, the underfed and unstimulated girls of Priors Heath, barely survive the stiflingly archaic regime. Their education stretches no further than piano playing and a little light sewing. Determined to make a difference, Bess works hard against fierce opposition to change the girls’ lives and to introduce the new ideas about women’s education. Eventually she becomes headmistress of Priors Heath, a school transformed by years of duty and passionate dedication – but at what price? As Bess stands by her and watches her pupils flourish under her guidance, find love and fulfilment as they enter adulthood, she begins to realise that perhaps her sacrifice has been too great …Bess’s entrapment is echoed a century later by Sarah, a teacher at modern-day Priors Heath, who must make her own choice between the need to ‘make a difference’ and the duty to save her broken marriage. The present, like the past, is shaped by cruel dilemmas, but for Sarah the possibility of happiness is within her grasp if only she can find the courage …

Footsteps2The women in Helena Mayrick’s family have always led secretive and tragic lives, and when Helena’s comfortable marriage is devastated by her husband’s violent death, it seems that she, too, is locked into the cycle. Helena is invited to research a book on her grandfather, H. Donaldson, the celebrated Edwardian photographer. At first she is reluctant to immerse herself in family history, particularly as Donaldson’s relationship with her grandmother, Ruth, is shrouded in mystery and turmoil. But gradually, as the story of enigmatic Ruth and the elusive, passionate Donaldson unfolds, Helena finds that the past, like the present, was shaped by cruel dilemmas and the demands of love…

Layout 1Beside the River Needle is a willow, meeting place for generations of Needlewick girls. Suzanna is the elder daughter of the village doctor who, with her friends, plans various outings, memorably to the Tunnel Woods where Suzanna has a momentous encounter. Helen is Suzanna’s niece. She lacks companions of her own age, but makes up for it with the imaginative world she creates for herself. In the summer of 1909, Suzanna’s daughter, Sophia, is sent from London to stay with her cousin and soon Sophia and Helen are inseparable. Years later, after the War, Sophia is engaged to be married. Over the years she has lost a great deal – but not her ambition for a rich and secure future. Then one morning she learns of a strange legacy. To receive her bequest, she must return to Needlewick. There she seeks out the people and hidden places of her childhood – and following her there are others for whom Needlewick is a place of devastating significance.

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