Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2022

The thirteenth longlist for the 2022 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction was announced today and the shortlist will be announced in April.  The winner will be announced and awarded at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, Scotland, in June 2022.

The Walter Scott Prize celebrates quality of writing in the English language, and is open to novels published in the previous year in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth. Reflecting the subtitle ‘Tis Sixty Years Since’ of Scott’s famous work Waverley, the majority of the storyline must have taken place at least 60 years ago.

As historical fiction is a favourite genre of mine I always look out for this award. These are the books on this year’s longlist:

I have started to read Mrs England and would also like to read The Magician, and maybe Rose Nicolson.

BLUE POSTCARDS Douglas Bruton – An experimental novella written in 500 postcard-sized paragraphs, set in post-WW2 Paris, interweaving three narrative strands and timelines, including the point of view of renowned French artist Yves Klein, whose obsession with the colour blue runs like silk thread motif throughout.  A meditation on the way memory reshapes itself over time and on the nature of truth and lies.

SNOW COUNTRY Sebastian Faulks – Set in Vienna, first during WW1, and then under the looming shadow of the rise of Fascism as WW2 approaches, the novel follows the lives of a small group of individuals trying to make their way in the new, terrifying world, whilst still mourning the loss of the old.  An epic novel about youth, hope, suffering and redemption.

ROSE NICOLSON Andrew Greig – Set in the late sixteenth century, during the troubled and violent years of James VI, the novel follows William Fowler as he embarks on his student life in St Andrews, and as he first encounters Rose, the woman who will prove to be the love and lodestar of his life.

MRS ENGLAND Stacey Halls – 1904, and Norland trainee nanny Ruby May is posted to a remote Yorkshire mansion, home of mill-owner Charles England and his wife, Lilian, to care for their four children.  But Lilian seems detached and lonely, and in the background remains the mystery of Ruby May’s own impoverished family in Birmingham, to whom she sends most of her wages each month.

THE BALLAD OF LORD EDWARD AND CITIZEN SMALL Neil Jordan – Follows the life of freed American slave Tony Small, who arrived in Ireland in the 1780s, and his relationship with Lord Edward FitzGerald, the parliamentarian aristocrat turned guerrilla republican, whose life Small had saved on the battlefields of the American War of Independence, and who rewards Small with his emancipation papers and lifelong employment.  But what will become of Small once his benefactor is no longer by his side?

THE SUNKEN ROAD Ciaràn McMenamin – Set during WW1 and the Irish Civil War, turning on two pivotal stories in Ireland’s history — the foundation of the State, and the Protestant memory of WW1 – the novel follows the story of a brutal IRA man, who now needs the help of his childhood sweetheart, and sister of his dead friend, to cross the border to safety.

THE FORTUNE MEN Nadifa Mohamed (Viking) – When a local shopkeeper in Cardiff’s Tiger Bay is murdered, Mahmood Mattan learns that 1952 Britain is not necessarily the haven of justice he thought it was, and must fight to clear his name, against conspiracy, prejudice and the inhumanity of a state where innocence is, sometimes, simply not enough.

NEWS OF THE DEAD James Robertson– Set in the fictitious Glen Conach in north-east Scotland, the stories of three different eras unfurl, linked by place and an ancient manuscript, but separated by centuries.  The narratives weave together to explore the space between the stories people tell of themselves — what is forgotten and what is invented — and the stories through which they may, or may not, be remembered.

CHINA ROOM Sunjeev Sahota – Entwines the stories of a young bride trying to discover the identity of her new husband in 1929 rural Pujab, and a young man battling heroin addiction in turn-of-the-twenty-first-century northern England, who takes enforced flight from Britain to spend a summer in Pujab with an uncle, armed only with whisky and a reading list that reflects his inner turmoil and preoccupations.

FORTUNE Amanda Smyth – Catches 1920s Trinidad at a moment of historical change, as the oil-rush begins and Eddie Wade happens upon a would-be investor who seems to have the power to make true Eddie’s dreams of sinking his own well.  But the partnership also brings the beautiful Ada, into the picture, and into Eddie’s life forever.  A thrilling Shakespearean tragedy of a story, about love, lust, ambition, destiny, and human frailty.

LEARWIFE JR Thorp – The story of the most famous woman ever written out of history, Shakespeare’s dead King Lear’s Queen, exiled to a nunnery, but now with a chance to tell her story, and to seek answers, despite her grief and rage, whilst grappling with her past and the terrible choice she must make and upon with her destiny rests.

THE MAGICIAN Colm Tóibín  – Through the life of Thomas Mann, Tóibín tells the awe-inspiring story of the twentieth century, in a novel about love, intimacy, family, exile, war and creativity, spanning three generations, and managing to secure itself as both epic and intimate in equal measure.

STILL LIFE Sarah Winman – A historical sweep of a novel, beginning in 1944 in the ruins of a wine cellar in Tuscany, as a young British soldier and a sixty-something art historian meet, bombs falling around them.  The connection they make will shape the young man’s life over the coming decades, as the novel moves between the hills of Tuscany, the grand piazzas of Florence and the East End of London, exploring themes of love, family, beauty and destiny.

Have you read any of these? Which one/s tempt you?

The Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2014

Yet another book award – this one is the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. This year’s judges are Helen Fraser, Caitlin Moran, Sophie Raworth, Mary Beard, and Denise Mina.

It’s not a new award – it was formerly known as the Orange Prize for Fiction, set up in 1996 and is awarded for the best novel of the year written by a woman in the English language. Previous winners include A.M. Homes, Barbara Kingsolver, Zadie Smith, Lionel Shriver, Andrea Levy and Kate Grenville.

The books on the shortlist are:

  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Undertaking by Audrey Magee

Every book on this year’s list, bar The Undertaking, has been previously nominated for a major award – A Girl is a Half-formed Thing was on the inaugural Folio Prize list; Burial Rites was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award; The Lowland made it to the Man Booker shortlist; whilst Americanah beat Donna Tartt’sThe Goldfinch to the American National Book Critics’ Circle Award last year.

The winner, to be announced on 4th June, will receive a cheque for £30,000 and a limited edition bronze known as a ‘Bessie’, created by the artist Grizel Niven.

The only one of these books I have is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I started to read it in February this year but I’ve only read up to page 87. It has nearly 800 pages, so it’s really too early in the book to make any sort of judgement on it. But, my initial thoughts were that it was going to be a book I could get really engrossed in, but then the story seemed to get swamped in too much detail, too much description and I wanted it to get a move on. So, I stopped reading. I expect I’ll pick it up again soon – I know other book bloggers have rated it highly.

I think Americanah looks very interesting and I loved the two of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s books that I’ve read, Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun, so I’m hoping to read this one too.

Awards

i-keep-coming-back-for-moreThis summer I received two awards, which I haven’t acknowledged on this blog (my excuse is house-hunting, we may be near the end of that now, but I mustn’t say too much in case it all falls through).

Cathy of Kittling Books gave me the I Keep Coming Back for More Award. In her words:

The I Keep Coming Back for More! Award is for a blog you just can’t stay away from. If you’ve been busier than a one-armed paperhanger with the hives and your Google reader is over 1,000 unread posts, these are the blogs that you single out to read. These are the ones that are never victims to the dreaded Mark All As Read. There may be many different reasons why you can’t stay away: a taste in books that mirrors your own, the same sense of humor, always knowing the latest in the book world… for whatever the reason, these blogs are flat out addictive and you have no wish to be cured!

I like this award – thank you very much, Cathy, yours is a blog I keep coming back to! I also like your rules:

  • Enjoy the award. If you don’t want to put it on your blog, don’t. Just get the warm, fuzzy feeling that I’m sending your way!
  • You don’t have to reveal any deep, dark secrets about yourself or answer any sort of questions. You’ve already earned it!
  • You don’t have to link back to me.
  • You don’t have to give it to anyone else.

Simple, huh? Now, if you do want to give this award to someone else, that’s a whole ‘nuther kettle of fish.
If you do want to pass it along to some of those addictive book blogs in your reader, just follow the same four rules I outlined above. This is a pay-it-forward award. Nothing is to be expected in return!

As I ‘ve been away a lot recently my Google Reader is overflowing, full to bursting in fact with so many posts to read. Actually I very rarely mark all the blogs in my Reader as read, although I do scroll down them when there are a lot. I wouldn’t want to miss a good post! I regularly click over to the blogs rather than reading them in the reader. I’m passing on this award to:

Thinking about it, I’m also passing it on to all the bloggers in my blogroll as they all write blogs I read and enjoy.superior scribbler award

Then Jane of Reading, Writing, Working Playing gave me the Superior Scribbler Award. I love this image and the idea that someone thinks I’m a “superior scribbler” tickles me pink! Thank you so much Jane.

Again if you’re on my blogroll I’m passing this award on to you.

Awards!

sisterhood_awardOver the last few weeks I’ve received a couple of Awards! 

Mog gave me the Sisterhood Award, which is for blogs that “show great attitude or gratitude”. Thanks Mog, I do appreciate it – it’s good to know other people like my blog!

As so many people already have this award I’m not making any specific nominations, but I’d hate to miss anyone out so if you’re on my blogroll and haven’t received this award consider yourself nominated.

lovely_blog_awardThen Kerrie gave me the Lovely Blog Award.

The rules to follow are:

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I’m nominating the following blogs (in no particular order). These are all ones I’ve recently come across and enjoyed reading:

Book Worm Award

Thank you to Zetor over on Mog’s Blog who has given me this award.

Here are the rules:

Open the closest book to you, not your favourite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment. Turn to page 56…. Write out the fifth sentence, as well as two to five sentences following there. Then pass this lovely little award on to five other people…….

I can’t deny that I’m a book worm and I’m sitting at my desk surrounded by books (as usual). The one that is closest to me is After the Fine Weather by Michael Gilbert. It’s there because I’ve recently finished reading it and plan to write about it. The fifth sentence and the following five sentences are:

It was as if he were weighing her as a witness in a court of law.

“You saw the gun?”

“I saw the gun,” said Laura. “When I was getting away from the square I saw the man who had used it. He was slipping out of the theatre by a side door. And I not only saw him, but I recognised him.

That, by chance, is an important event in this book!

As most of the blogs I read are book blogs I can’t possibly single out just five other book worms. If you love to read as much as I do, please feel free to pick up the award and let me know. I love reading snippets from books others are reading.

Nice Matters


Nan gave me the Nice Matters Award back in August. I’™m sorry it’™s taken so long to write about it, Nan, but I’™ve been thinking about posting about it since then. Nice Matters can be thought of in different ways ‘“ ‘œnice’ things, or the significance and importance of being ‘œnice’.

The dictionary definition of ‘œnice’ includes ‘œagreeable, delightful, respectable, good in any way, something done with great care and exactness, accurate, and good-natured.’ So I’™ll disregard and indeed ignore one of my English teachers at school who told us not to use the word ‘œnice’ as she thought it was a neutral word and didn’™t signify much at all. The concept of ‘œNiceness’ is good and it does indeed matter.

I am honoured, Nan ‘“ thank you. I don’™t know Nan personally but judging from her blog I think that she is a thoroughly nice person.