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Tuesday 1 October 2013

Tuesday Talk Guest: Mary Tod

My Tuesday Talk guest today is M.K. Tod
- over to you Mary:

My Year of Reading Top Historical Fiction Authors
Many thanks to Helen Hollick for inviting me to write this guest post and for her support during the past year. (Helen: my pleasure!)

Mary Tod
Last year’s historical fiction survey revealed a top 40 list of authors. Some authors were already familiar to me—Elizabeth Chadwick, Sharon Kay Penman, for example—others like CW Gortner, Deanna Raybourn, and Helen Hollick were unknown. Discovering new authors is a gift and having a list with several new names felt like Christmas.

So, what did I read?

I chose not to read deceased authors on the top 40 list for no other reason than to manage the effort involved. Here are the books I’ve selected from a few authors yet to read:

Diana Gabaldon – one of her Lord John Grey series (since I've read almost all of Outlander)
Margaret George – Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles (such a tragic figure); I loved her earlier novel Mary, Called Magdalene
Hilary Mantel – Bring up the Bodies (to complete the Wolf Hall story)
Colleen McCullough – The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet (I haven't read this Australian author since The Thorn Birds)
Lindsey Davis – The Course of Honour (another new author for me)
Sarah Waters – The Night Watch (WWII is up my alley)
John Jakes – On Secret Service (because I enjoy spies)
Jean Auel – I’ve read all (no pun intended) of her books.

What did I learn?

Favourite historical fiction comes in different flavours: mysteries, romance, war stories, fictional or real figures, quiet stories or those that play out with fury. Some of the most compelling ingredients are seamless and evocative historic detail, effective characterization, plot twists and turns, strong pacing, realistic dialogue, and tumultuous times.
Each and every one of the authors on the top 40 list has mastered these ingredients.

About Mary:

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon (US, Canada and elsewhere), Nook, Kobo, Google Play, iTunes and the iBooks store. 
(see below for more detail)

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Unravelled retail links

M.K. Tod contact links


Two wars, two affairs, one marriage. In October 1935, Edward Jamieson's memories of war and a passionate love affair resurface when an invitation to a WWI memorial ceremony arrives. Though reluctant to visit the scenes of horror he has spent years trying to forget, Edward succumbs to the unlikely possibility of discovering what happened to Helene Noisette, the woman he once pledged to marry. Travelling through the French countryside with his wife Ann, Edward sees nothing but reminders of war. After a chance encounter with Helene at the dedication ceremony, Edward's past puts his present life in jeopardy. When WWII erupts a few years later, Edward is quickly caught up in the world of training espionage agents, while Ann counsels grieving women and copes with the daily threats facing those she loves. And once again, secrets and war threaten the bonds of marriage. With events unfolding in France, England and Canada, UNRAVELLED is a compelling novel of love, duty and sacrifice set amongst the turmoil of two world wars. 

 “M. K. Tod’s skilful debut novel spanning two world wars deftly illuminates the subtle stirrings of the human heart as movingly as it depicts the horrors of battle. Poignant and generous, Unravelled gives us Edward, scarred by war, and Ann, alive with longing, two people bound by the heartbreaking bonds of a marriage forged in the crucible of secrets and war.
Barbara Kyle, author of Blood Between Queens.
A compulsive and convincing read: a story of webs that were innocently woven - and lives that subsequently become unravelled.”
Helen Hollick, author of historical fiction and historical adventure. 
An engrossing historical saga. With narrative insight, compassion, and a strong sense of time and place, M.K. Tod observes the inner workings of a marriage as it’s affected by the uncertainty and tumult of both world wars."
Sarah Johnson, Historical Novel Society Book Review Editor.
Wartime relationships have always been compelling reading, and M.K. Tod’s Unravelled beautifully evokes an era of heightened tension, in which her characters’ decisions become all the more heart-rending. A well researched and very enjoyable book.”
Anne Easter Smith, author of A Rose for the Crown, Queen By Right and Royal Mistress
A beautiful rendering of the healing journey of two war torn hearts.” 
Elisabeth Storrs, author of The Golden Dice and The Wedding Shroud

Helen: lovely to have you as a guest here Mary - I have to say how much I enjoyed Unravelled - excellent read!

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