Two compelling new works of historical fiction explore the human dramas and decisions facing characters caught in the midst of two very real historical disasters, one in England’s Middle Ages and the other on the Atlantic Ocean during World War I.
LOVE AND ESPIONAGE ON THE LUSITANIA
Wartime espionage, a doomed ocean voyage and separate loves converge in The Glass Ocean, a mesmerizing historical mystery that links three fictional women, each at an important turning point in her life. Their stories, separated by nearly a century, are linked by a legendary historical event—the sinking of the vessel RMS Lusitania by a German U-Boat in 1915.
In the present day, an author seeking an idea for her next book opens an old box that belonged to her great-grandfather, a steward on the fabled luxury ship. She learns of his intriguing connection to a wealthy British passenger—one that possibly involves military intelligence. The box also contains tantalizing clues about two women aboard the vessel: a beautiful, wealthy Southern belle, whose industrialist husband is concealing a mysterious document; and a spunky Irish con artist, who’s attempting one last big heist while not fully aware of its true import and danger.
The Glass Ocean combines adventures surrounding the Great War with the drama of an epic historical event for a tale of obsession, romance and espionage. It blends the creative talents of three authors—Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White—who are looking to repeat the success of their first bestselling collaboration, The Forgotten Room (2016). Their commingled voices deliver a smoothly constructed narrative without a hitch, so readers never lose the flow or fall out of the story.
SURVIVING A PLAGUE IN THE MIDDLE AGES
After a decade’s hiatus, bestselling British crime writer Minette Walters returns to the literary scene with The Last Hours, a sprawling historical saga set in a dark era of superstition and violence.
It’s the year 1348, and the Black Death is decimating England’s population. The terrible disease has inundated a populace essentially without defenses or scientific knowledge about the pestilence, and most can do little but try to flee its ravages, with thousands dying in the attempt.
The story centers on the demesne belonging to Sir Richard of Develish, with its manor, lands and attendant serfs. After the boorish Richard succumbs to the plague, Lady Anne, his wife, who is rather progressive for the Middle Ages, implements a radical idea of walling off the rest of the manor’s occupants, serfs and all, from the outside world in an attempt to survive.
The physical isolation of the group, masters and servants alike, leads to escalating tensions and a violent death, and one group of the anxious hangers-on soon decides to leave the confines of their enclosure and head into the unknown landscape, looking for survivors and supplies. After living their entire lives in Richard’s demesne, they have zero knowledge of the lands beyond Develish, and no maps to guide them in a hostile world.
The author presents an unforgettable picture of this raw, barely civilized era and its brutal hierarchy of master, slave and serf, all of whom are in thrall to a capricious god.