Saturday 13 January 2018

Hist Fic Saturday ~ Beautiful Star & Other Stories by Andrew Swanston

On Hist Fic Saturday

Lets's go back in time

This is a really fascinating book of seven historical fiction short stories which have their basis firmly in truth and the author has used his considerable skill with words to bring to life these events which have been completely overlooked.

  • Beautiful Star tells the story of a devastating disaster which befell a small Scottish fishing community in the winter of 1875
  • The Flying Monk gives the fascinating tale of Eilmer, a young Benedictine Monk, who was obsessed with the idea of flight and of the strange portents of a mysterious comet 
  • HMS Association is the story of  the marvelously named, Sir Cloudelly Shovell and his connection to the Longitude Act of 1714
  • The Tree is based on the well known story of the Boscobel Tree and the future King Charles II , but was there someone in the tree with him?
  • The Castle tells of the gallant defense of Corfe Castle which was led by Lady Mary Bankes, widow of Sir John Bankes, Privy Councillor and advisor to King Charles I
  • A Witch and a Bitch describes how a village, even as late as the eighteenth century could turn against a poor old woman 
  • The Button Seller and the Drummer Boy tells the story of an English button seller's encounter with the Duke of Wellington, and the bravery of a young French drummer boy during the Battle of Waterloo

All of the stories sit very comfortably together and are easy to read in one sitting. Beautifully reminiscent of the era in which they are set, each story gives a vibrant account of a forgotten time and gives weight to the argument that our connection to history is always with us.

I found some of the stories very moving, particularly the treatment given to Jane Wenham, an unfortunate old woman who is notoriously known as the Witch of Wenham.  I found the title story, Beautiful Star to be especially poignant and the whole shipbuilding and fishing industry was brought so vividly to life that I could almost taste the tang of sea salt and savoured the smell of wood smoke and timber. However, it's the story of The Button Seller and the Drummer Boy which I found to be the most interesting and couldn't help but be immersed in each of their stories and of the consequences of their actions.

I think this is a real hidden gem of a book which will appeal, not just to history lovers, but also to those interested in well written short stories.

You can read an interview by the author by clicking here

About the author

Andrew read a little law and a lot of sport at Cambridge University, and held various positions in the book trade, including being a director of Waterstone & Co, and Chairman of Methven’s plc, before turning to writing. Inspired by a lifelong interest in early modern history, his Thomas Hill novels are set during the English Civil Wars, and the early period of the Restoration. 

Andrew’s novel, Incendium, was published in February 2017 and is the first of two thrillers featuring Dr. Christopher Radcliff, an intelligencer for the Earl of Leicester, and is set in 1572 at the time of the massacre of the Huguenots in France. 

The Dome Press publish Beautiful Star, a collection of short stories documenting a journey through time, bringing a new perspective to the defense of Corfe Castle, the battle of Waterloo, the siege of Toulon and, in the title story, the devastating dangers of the life of the sea in 1875.

Twitter #BeautifiuStar

Beautiful Star & Other Stories is published by The Dome Press on the 11th January 2018

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