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Beautiful Liesby Clare Clark
Synopses & Reviews
Praised by Hilary Mantel, Amanda Foreman, and the New York Times Book Review for her verve and intelligence . . . [and] the originality of her imagination,” Clare Clark has become a rising star in historical fiction.
Elisabeth is among twenty-three girls who set sail from France for the new colony of Louisiana to be married to strangers. Although she has little hope for happiness in her new life, she finds herself passionately in love with her new husband, Jean-Claude, a charismatic and ruthlessly ambitious soldier.
But betrayal is as much a part of the new world as the old, and when Elisabeth finds herself deceived by her husband she also finds herself bound to a poor cabin boy in a way she never anticipated.
Clark creates a world that is both incredibly real and incredibly dazzling. And with the same compelling prose and vividly realized characters that won her widespread acclaim for The Great Stink and The Nature of Monsters, she takes us deep into the heart of colonial French Louisiana.
"Clark's fourth novel (after Savage Lands) offers an informative if disjointed portrait of the Victorian era, encompassing socialist politics, spiritualism, economic crisis, tabloid journalism, Buffalo Bill's Wild West, and family secrets. Maribel Campbell Lowe is the wife of an earnest MP, whose passion for the socialist cause puts his political career at risk. Maribel's photography hobby brings her into contact both with the Indians of Buffalo Bill's show and the growing spiritualist movement, whose members are fascinated by the possibility of spirits appearing in photographs, a sometimes accidental and often duplicitous practice. The core of the book is Maribel's personal history, a secret life she has hidden at the cost of losing her family. When a devious newspaper editor comes close to revealing her past, and destroying her reputation and her husband's career, bright, resourceful Maribel must take a stand. Individual vignettes — Maribel's photo studio, the lively spirit of the Wild West Show, her husband's involvement with socialism — will charm devotees of the Victorian era, but no meaningful connection between them is made, and the novel bursts at the seams as Clark struggles to wrap them up by the end. Agent: Clare Alexander, Aitken Alexander Associates. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From an award-winning novelist described by Hilary Mantel as "one of those writers who can see into the past and help us feel its texture," the story of the exotic wife of a Scottish aristocrat who is not what she seems, set against the backdrop of the cultured drawing rooms and emerging tabloid culture of late Victorian London.
1666: The Great Fire of London sweeps through the streets and a heavily pregnant woman flees the flames. A few months later she gives birth to a child disfigured by a red birthmark. 1718: Sixteen-year-old Eliza Tally sees the gleaming dome of St. Pauls Cathedral rising above a rebuilt city. She arrives as an apothecarys maid, a position hastily arranged to shield the father of her unborn child from scandal. But why is the apothecary so eager to welcome her when he already has a maid, a half-wit named Mary? Why is Eliza never allowed to look her veiled master in the face or go into the study where he pursues his experiments? It is only on her visits to the Huguenot bookseller who supplies her masters scientific tomes that she realizes the nature of his obsession. And she knows she has to act to save not just the child but Mary and herself.
Clare Clarks critically acclaimed The Great Stink “reeks of talent” (The Washington Post Book World) as it vividly brings to life the dark and mysterious underworld of Victorian London. Set in 1855, it tells the story of William May, an engineer who has returned home to London from the horrors of the Crimean War. When he secures a job transforming the citys sewer system, he believes that he will be able to find salvation in the subterranean world beneath the city. But the peace of the tunnels is shattered by a murder, and William is implicated as the killer. Could he truly have committed the crime? How will he bring the truth above-ground?
With richly atmospheric prose, The Great Stink combines fact and fiction to transport readers into Londons putrid past, and marks the debut of a remarkably talented writer in the tradition of the very best historical novelists.
About the Author
CLARE CLARK is the author of four novels, including The Great Stink, which was long-listed for the Orange Prize and was named a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and Savage Lands, which was long-listed for the Orange Prize in 2010. Her work has been translated into five languages. She lives in London.
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