Recently I asked Harris about what she was reading. Her reply:
I fear I am very ‘picky’ reader. If I don’t like a novel, I may read the first three chapters and then abandon it. That certainly wasn’t the case, however, with my latest foray into fiction. Antonia Hodgson’s debut The Devil in Marshalsea was right up my street. When I’m in the midst of writing one of my own novels, I don’t like to stray too far from my period. (I’ve heard that Hilary Mantel also follows that rule.) This book was set in early Georgian times, just a little earlier than my own particular period, but it fitted the bill perfectly. I was whisked back in time to follow the fortunes of an ill-fated but likable gambler who found himself incarcerated in a notorious debtors’ prison, where a murderer was on the loose. Hodgson’s prose was evocative and chilling, as well as being historically accurate. Her characterization was excellent, too. The story was fast-paced and gripping – a literary page-turner from start to finish. I’m hoping it will be the first of a series.Visit Tessa Harris's website.
Another recently-read novel that I would highly recommend for lovers of historical fiction is another debut. It’s Hannah Kent’s Burial Rights. Set in early nineteenth century Iceland, it’s a far cry from the author’s native Australia, nevertheless the portrayal of the landscape and its hardships is pitch perfect. Based on the true story of the last execution of a woman in Iceland, it takes us on an incredible journey, following the dynamics of a small group of people on an isolated farmstead whose lives are disrupted when they are asked to billet a stranger charged with murder. The constant switching of points of view is ambitious, but works very well. The prose is as sparse as the landscape and the narrative itself bleak and haunting. It’s a book that will stay with me for a long time.
My Book, The Movie: The Devil's Breath.
The Page 69 Test: The Lazarus Curse.