LONGLISTED FOR THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE FOR HISTORICAL FICTION
‘Utterly absorbing, cleverly constructed and beautifully written’ The Times
‘Moving and exhilarating’ Spectator
‘Evokes the messiness and fragility of everyday life in the nineteenth century’ Daily Mail
Almost two hundred years ago, Abraham, an illiterate urchin, scavenges on a Suffolk beach and dreams of running away to sea … Naomi, a seventeen-year-old seamstress, imagines a new life in the big city … George, a private soldier of the 50th Regiment of Food, marries his Irish bride, Annie, in the cathedral in Manchester and together they face married life under arms. Now these people exist only in the bare bones of registers and census lists but they were once real enough.
Simon Mawer puts flesh on our ancestors’ bones to bring them to life and give them voice. There is birth and death; there is love, both open and legal but also hidden and illicit. Yet the thread that connects these disparate figures is something that they cannot have known – the unbreakable bond of family.
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