A very special episode, live from London Book Fair: host Anna Fielding is joined by three authors for a discussion of historical fiction, the genre that unites their latest books:
Jess Kidd's Things in Jars is set in London in 1863. Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age, is taking on her toughest case yet: the kidnapping of a young girl. But Christabel Berwick is no ordinary child. She is not supposed to exist. As Bridie fights to recover the stolen child she enters a world of fanatical anatomists, crooked surgeons and mercenary showmen. Things in Jars is an enchanting Victorian detective novel that explores what it is to be human in inhumane times. (Canongate, April 2019)
Meanwhile Claire McGlasson's The Rapture centres on Dilys, a devoted member of a terribly English cult: The Panacea Society, populated almost entirely by virtuous single ladies. When she strikes up a friendship with Grace, a new recruit, God finally seems to be smiling upon her.
But Dilys is wary of their leader's zealotry and suspicious of those who would seem to influence her for their own ends. As her feelings for Grace bloom, the Society around her begins to crumble. Faith is supplanted by doubt as both women come to question what is true and fear what is real. (Faber & Faber, June 2019)
And The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan takes the late eighteenth century as its setting. Inspired by a real document uncovered by Nathan, it tells the story of a semi-literatre labourer, John Warlow, recruited by a wealthy man of science to live, as an experiment, in the cellar of the main house, without human contact but with meals and luxuries provided, for a period of seven years. The experiment is, of course, a classic Enlightenment exercise gone mad, that promises unforeseen consequences for all included. In this seductive tale of self-delusion and obsession, Alix Nathan has created an utterly transporting historical novel which is both elegant and unforgettably sinister. (Serpent's Tail, July 2019)
Listen to Alix, Claire and Jess discuss their novels with Anna, tell you about books they've loved or yearn to read, and about their favourite independent bookshops.