The Bitter End by Ann Evans and Robert D.Tysall

Paul finally has his life back on track. After losing his wife, Helena in a horrific car crash, he has found love with Sally and moves into her country cottage.  
As a former high-ranking Naval Officer, Paul now works as Head of Security at MI5.
Paul has no memories from before he was ten years old. An accident left him in a coma for 9 months.  But was it really an accident?
Soon Paul starts to have flashes of childhood memories, all involving his childhood friend, Owen.
Sally introduces him to her friend, Juliet, the owner of a craft shop. Paul is shocked when he is introduced to Juliet’s partner, his old friend Owen.
Flashes of memories continue to haunt Paul, particularly the memory of his first wife Helena burning in the car crash.
As dark things start to happen, and local people begin dying in horrific accidents, Paul must face his past and will end up fighting for his life.

It's my pleasure to be one of the hosts of the blog blitz for The Bitter End by Ann Evans and Robert D. Tysa…

Book Review: Ace, King, Knave by Maria McCann

Image courtesy of Faber and Faber

I am not often drawn to historical novels but for some reason the plot of Ace, King, Knave appealed to me. Set in 18th century London, it follows the lives of Sophia, a demure newlywed married to the charismatic Mr Zedland and Betsy-Ann, a former prostitute, now a second hand dealer who lives with a grave robber.
The story is told through the words of Sophia, Betsy-Ann and Fortune the slave who belongs to the Zedlands, and switches between their past and present lives. Whilst it was important to learn what had occurred earlier in their lives I did feel having three narrative voices and this switching between times did occasionally make the book a little confusing, especially as I was also having to try to figure out the numerous historical slang words. I actually discovered a glossary once I'd finished the book but wish I'd found it earlier as it would have meant I could have concentrated on the story more without having the flow interrupted as I stopped to work out what a word or phrase meant. I didn't really start to properly enjoy the book until about halfway through when I became used to the wandering narrative and liberal use of archaic words. That said I did sometimes enjoy the extra reading inspired by this book; discovering more about the fascinating George Psalmanazar a particular highlight.
This is not a prim look at a genteel past, indeed you can almost smell the filth and grime. We are taken into the underbelly of London, a dark and dangerous gin-sodden world of gamblers, thieves, prostitutes and grave robbers. It's not a period of history I know well but it felt wretchedly real.
If you enjoy historical novels that don't shy away from the sordid and bawdy and like a tale that meanders through the lives of its characters and explores the themes of convention, hypocrisy, freedom and choice (or the lack of)  then I'd recommend Ace, King, Knave. For me it's not quite the novel to fully convert me to this type of book but nevertheless I'm glad I was tempted this once.
Disclosure: I received my free copy of Ace, King, Knave from the publishers through Netgalley in return for my honest review.

Ace, King, Knave will be published in the UK on 7 November 2013 by Faber and Faber.



Comments