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Screenwriter of Tim Burton's 'Dark Shadows' and bestselling author of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Seth Grahame-Smith rewrites history to retell the truly remarkable story of the Nativity's 'Three Wise Men'...
It's one of the most iconic vignettes in history: three men on camels, arriving at a manger, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. An impossibly bright star is suspended in the vast desert sky above. It's a moment of serenity and grace. A holy night...
But what do we really know about the Three Kings of the Nativity? The Bible says little about this enigmatic trio. Not even their names are mentioned. The historical record is vague at best. How do we know that they were three kings from the East? What if they were petty, murderous thieves - led by a mercurial individual called Balthazar - on the run, escaping through Judea under cover of night who stumble upon the famous manger, its newborn child and his earthly parents?
Here, the brilliant and slightly warped mind behind Pride and Prejudice and Zombies takes a little mystery, plays fast and loose with a bit of history to weave an epic tale. It's an adventure that will see these thieves fight the last magical creatures of the Old Testament, cross paths with historical figures such as Pontius Pilate and John the Baptist, and deliver the family - as the Bible tells us - to the safety of Egypt. Indeed, this may just be the greatest story never told...
Published: 21 Jun 2012
Bridie Marchant had been brought up with every advantage, a wealthy background, a convent education, and a father who eventually willed her a fleet of merchant sailing ships. When she married Paul Marchant it seemed a perfect match, for Paul, owner of a much smaller fleet of ships, could take care both of Bridie and of her business interests.
But slowly Bridie began to have her doubts about Paul, about his love, and about his business dealings. When he tried to inflict upon her the greatest insult of all, and also attempted to seize her fortune, Bridie decided she must fight back. With the help of Ellie Hopkins, she sought to trap Paul in a web of his own making. In the dramatic events that followed, both Ellie and Bridie were nearly destroyed before they finally found happiness with the men they loved.
It is 1971 - hippies, hot pants and extraordinary footwear. Jo and her friend Frankie are fifteen, and they have a problem. Frankie's American mother, in England against her will, is determined to move out of the scruffy Essex village to civilized London. Jo's family would follow them if only they could sell their great rambling home, the Red House, but unfortunately, the house is putting up a fight. An architectural oddity built by an eighteenth-century madman to irritate his wife, it always did have a life of its own, but now its sinister goings-on are driving prospective buyers away. The capable Jo has always coped with her eccentric family but they're getting worse. Even more disturbing, Jo and Frankie are convinced that there's been a murder on the premises.
As the Red House crumbles around them, the girls are determined to get to the bottom of the mystery so the Starkey family can sell up and start an ordinary life. But along comes the devastatingly attractive Florian, folk singer and opportunist, to cause a chaos all of his own...
RAINY DAY WOMEN is a black comedy in which teenaged hopes, fears and egomaniacal tunnel vision are played out against the background of a seriously dysfunctional family, some of its members deeply loveable - and some of them not.
Holly Swift has just landed the job of her dreams: events co-ordinator at Wickham Hall, the beautiful manor home that sits proudly at the heart of the village where she grew up.
Her first major event is a spring wedding of royal proportions. Holly has every detail covered, so all she has to do is keep calm and carry on… Easier said than done!
As the church bells ring, little does Holly know that come Monday, she’ll have a new boss. And it might not exactly be a match made in heaven…
Wickham Hall is an utterly feel-good story told in four parts – following Holly Swift’s attempt at organising her own happy-ever-after, one catastrophe at a time – beginning with Hidden Treasures.
Your favourite authors have loved reading Cathy Bramley:
‘Delightfully warm with plenty of twists and turns’ Trisha Ashley
‘A perfect blend of the two greatest pleasures in life – love and gardening!’ Fern Britton
'A witty, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy' Miranda Dickinson
Published: 25 Jun 2015
Weeping Willow was a place that survived by serving long-distance drivers, with petrol, food and girls. The truck driver was badly shaken as he arrived there in the dark and rain, but more shaken when he left.
Part of the Storycuts series, this short story was previously published in the collection Madwoman on the Bridge.
Published: 17 Nov 2011
Portia and Emily meet to launch their daughters on an unsuspecting Society for the London Season of 1913. Both are determined that their offspring, Phyllis and Edith, will catch the eye of their friend May's son, a future Duke. If that were all, the Season would be a relatively simple affair, but since Portia is recently widowed and Emily is away from her husband, life is bound to get more interesting.
Meanwhile, their arch-enemy Daisy Lanford, fallen on hard times due to extravagance and too many lovers, is busy launching American heiresses. However, her protegee, Sarah Hartley Lambert, whilst an engaging girl, is not the wild success Daisy hopes for. This is largely due to the machinations of Phyllis, who, having formed an unholy alliance with Edith, is intent on spoiling the American girl's chances.
As always, the Season is fraught with dangers for both the young and the middle-aged, while the old observe, knowing it has all gone on before. It will be a minor miracle if all three girls find husbands before the end of the Season, and their mothers, not to mention Daisy Lanford, renewed happiness.
Published: 15 Dec 2010
Virginia Wrathmell has always known she will meet her death on the marsh in reparation for the mistakes of her childhood.
On New Year's Eve, at the age of eighty-six, Virginia feels the time has finally come.
In 1939, Virginia is ten, an orphan arriving to meet her new adoptive parents, Clem and Lorna Wrathmell, at their mysterious house, Salt Winds. The house sits right on the edge of a vast marsh, a beautiful but dangerous place. It's the start of a new life for Virginia, but she quickly senses that all is not right between Clem and Lorna - in particular, the presence of their wealthy neighbour Max Deering, who takes an unhealthy interest in the family. When a German fighter plane crashes into the marsh, Clem ventures onto the deadly sands to rescue the airman. And that is when things really begin to go wrong...
It is 1945. Somewhere in Central Europe, in the aftermath of violence and confusion, a terrified and bloodstained young woman, Eliska, emerges from the forest to take refuge in an apparently abandoned castle. Soon she is joined by others - the idealistic Jiri, the sinister Slavomir and his partisans, and Count Michael Blansky, who is the castle's ancestral owner.
But the war has changed things for ever. In a storm of ideological change, the existing order and the aristocratic heritage of ten generations are brushed aside by the arrival of Communism, and Count Michael must join the flood of refugees if he is to survive. He leaves behind a legacy which will entangle those involved for the next forty years in more ways than they can possibly imagine.
As divided post-war Europe unravels around them, they must make what they can of lives buffeted by circumstance. For many, individual freedom is at best problematic. For better or worse, communities are destroyed, families uprooted, and the ties of trust, friendship and duty which bind them together are broken down by the implacably irresolvable forces at work. Told through the eyes of nine characters who live through the forty years between the end of the war and the fall of Communism, A Desert in Bohemia is a complex and enthralling testament to the power and powerlessness of the individual in challenging times.
One small, faded, leather-bound journal.
One photograph in a newspaper.
These two seemingly small items are set to change lives forever.
Just when career success seems set fair for Zeph's writer husband Nick, she discovers that he has been having an affair. Wounded and angry, she turns to her mother for support, only to discover that the past has also come back to haunt Cora, a person who always seemed utterly flawless.
For now comes evidence of Cora's own long-ago relationship with a famous man, a man who so adored Zeph's mother that he never forgot her.
Zeph is forced to see her own childhood, and the bond with her beloved father, in an entirely new light. Was she really loved, as her mother and father tried to deal with their problems? Was their happiness a sham, as hers and Nick's threatens to be? And how much can you trust the person who tells you that they love you?
As Zeph struggles to piece together her shattered images of husband and parent, she suddenly realises the connection between herself and the writer of the journal which has appeared in the morning mail, posted from Italy; a last gift from a dying man, an anonymous and passionate stranger.....
Set in both England and the alluringly beautiful island of Sicily, A YEAR IN THE LIGHT explores the complexities and subtleties of marriage, of lasting love and human frailty.
Mary, a blond graduate from England, has drifted into a job in a hostess lounge in Osaka. She works for the enigmatic Mama-san and spends her evenings flirting with rich Japanese salarymen, playing drinking games and singing in the karaoke booth. Mary is in love with Yuji, Mama-san's son. But Yuji's loyalty is to the Yakuza gangster for whom he works.
Watanabe, the introverted cook, watches Mary from the kitchen. He exists in his own manga-fuelled fantasy of the fourth dimension, and believes he can see into other people's souls. When he perceives the danger of Mary's growing obsession with Yuji, he resolves to protect her whatever the cost.
Mr Sato works for the Daiwa Trading Corporation. Obsessive overwork cannot cure the emptiness of his solitary life as a salaryman. Lured against his will to the Sayonara Bar by his boss, he finds himself returning there to escape his dead wife's ghost.
Edgy, sly, often very funny, SAYONARA BAR spins a kaleidoscopic, genre-crossing tale of people cut adrift in a globalized world.
Published: 3 Jul 2014
In the latter half of the 13th century, Christian Europe again sought to prise the Holy Land out of the grasp of the Infidel. Tens of thousands took up the Cross - some for the greater glory of God, others for baser motives: lust for power, for riches, for revenge.
THE CRUSADER tells the story of the seventh and last Crusade, as experienced by a young Spanish nobleman, Francisco de Montcada. He is the hero of this novel, but his tale is told by his former friend and a fellow acolyte, a venal and moderately trustworthy Cistercian monk named Brother Lucas. For Francisco has returned from the Levant a broken and seemingly possessed man. The Inquisition decree that his tortured soul be exorcized and the task falls to Brother Lucas. Eschewing the Inquisition's more usual methods, the monk sits with the silent, emaciated knight in his cell and talks to him. Slowly, tentatively, Francisco begins to recount his story - a tale of how an honourable man took up the Cross and found not the glory and redemption for which he'd yearned but instead unimaginable cruelty, barbarism and bloodshed.
Set against a thrillingly authentic historical backdrop, this stirring novel of religious fervour and human passions, of greed and betrayal, and love and war, brings a tumultuous era brilliantly to life.
Joyce d'Avranche had always been the poor and ignored member of the d'Avranche family of Helmingham Hall. Her childhood had been one of hardship, and over her dead mother hung the disgrace of an old scandal. Then, when the legitimate heir went missing on an Amazon exploration, Joyce was brought to Helmingham and told she could well be the new owner of the beautiful old house and garden.
Almost at once she fell in love with it and wanted, more than anything, to possess it. But her background had not prepared her for the running of a huge estate. Everything she did was wrong and her only friend was Rose, wife of the head gardener. Rose, too, had sorrows to bear. Barren, in spite of her longing for a child, she sublimated her sadness in the gardens of Helmingham, concentrating all her energy on the breeding of a new flower - the Helmingham Rose.
As the two young women watched the gradual unfurling of the perfect flower, so their own lives moved towards maturity and unexpected happiness.
'Your Beautiful Lies crackles with repressed longing and I was desperate for Annie to escape from her hum drum life. It kept me guessing until the last few pages and the explosive ending took my breath away.' C.L. Taylor, author of The Accident
What secrets are you keeping?
Annie Howarth is living a restless life in a restless town. It's 1984 and for a mining community in South Yorkshire, the strikes mean tensions are running high. Then a murdered girl is found on the moors and the anxiety levels are pushed to a dangerous breaking point.
Married to the Chief of Police, Annie should feel safe – William can be secretive, though surely whatever he's hiding is for her own good.
But Annie is keeping her own secrets. Ten years ago the man she loved was ripped from her life in a scandal that still haunts the both of them, and now his return will put her family, her marriage, even her life, at risk.
An atmospheric and suspenseful novel you'll find impossible to put down, from the talented Richard & Judy bestseller. Perfect for fans of C.L. Taylor and Lucie Whitehouse.
'Long-shanks Gertie' the village children called her, chasing her all the way to school. It was because she was different, with her long legs and long dark hair and clean pinafore. And, as the daughter of the land-agent on Providence, she accepted that she didn't belong anywhere - not part of the village, and not part of the Squire's family at the Big House.
But she was fascinated by Squire Wyndham's family - Louise, the arrogant daughter of the house who never missed an opportunity of snubbing her. James, who was handsome and wonderful and charming - and who was one day to break her heart. And William, the heir, quiet, bookish, and almost as much as misfit as she was. But above all there was Lady Hester. It was Lady Hester who saw something in Gertrude that no one else had perceived - a quality of strength and endurance that would serve the family well.
Between them Lady Hester and Gertrude Hoskins were to be the salvation of Providence.
Published: 31 Dec 2011
Naomi had been contentedly and, she thought, happily married for nearly all of her adult life when her husband Edward explained kindly to her one day that he had fallen in love with a twenty-six year old and wanted a divorce. She had to leave the comfortable home she had shared with Edward and their three children, now all grown-up, and move into a small flat in the middle of Bath. The dramatic change in her lifestyle threatened to overwhelm her.
But gradually Naomi began to appreciate the changes, and even to enjoy them. For the first time in her life she could do what she liked, and make her own friends. If these included men friends - well, why not? Unfortunately her children could think of many reasons why not, and Naomi began a battle to establish her own independence, and to persuade her family that she had moved into the springtime of a whole new life.
In this warm and inspiring new novel, Elvi Rhodes's wonderful storytelling skills are used to explore a dilemma faced by many women today.
‘Here is a … writer with immense confidence and vitality. He has an extraordinary feeling for place and landscape.’ – Jennifer Johnston
‘This is experience finely and skilfully distilled’ – Irish Times
‘Well-written and engrossing’ – Sunday Independent
‘These inter-connected stories are faultless in their execution and a delight to read’ – Sunday Press
‘Written with great sympathy and truth’ – Irish Independent
‘Beautifully wrought’ – Daily Telegraph
There is cold comfort to be had when you’re a young boy stuck in the middle of nowhere. The son of the local sergeant in an isolated Garda station on the border between Cavan and Fermanagh, his days are balanced between the brooding, taciturn presence of his father, whom he loves and fears in equal measure, and the reassurance of his quiet, gentle mother. His world is narrowed to bitter country lanes and petty disputes, filled with the characters he encounters – tinkers, publicans, farmers, and the tantalising older sister of his Protestant friend.
Amidst the drumlins and bogs, the boy’s imagination roams free and unfettered. And at night, lulled by the rhythm of his mother’s fleecy warm breathing, the boy finds solace. But now even that is threatened. Change is coming. It’s time to grow up.
Written as a collection of linked stories, Shane Connaughton’s debut novel A Border Station was widely praised on its first publication in 1989. It was shortlisted for the GPA Book Award.
Published: 20 Apr 2017