Results of the Whitbread Book Award in the year 2000.
This stunning historical novel delves into a hidden side of eighteenth-century England: the world of infanticide and child slavery.
Otis Gardiner, the Coram man, makes a vicious living disposing of the unwanted children and illegitimate offspring of distraught young women, rich and poor. Meshak is Otis’s oppressed, simpleminded son, who finally discovers an infant he considers special enough to risk saving out of the hundreds who have succumbed to his father’s brutality. The infant’s father is Alexander Ashbrook, a brilliant young aristocrat disinherited by his family for his devotion to a forbidden career, who is astonishingly unaware that he even has a son, much less that he has abandoned him.
Around this trio and a host of other characters swirls Jamila Gavin’s carefully orchestrated plot, in this disturbing, ultimately uplifting novel about sons and fathers, abuse and abandonment, treachery and devotion.
Erin Law and her friends are Damaged Children. At least that is the label given to them by Maureen, the woman who runs the orphanage that they live in. Damaged, Beyond Repair because they have no parents to take care of them. But Erin knows that if they care for each other they can put up with the psychologists, the social workers, the therapists—at least most of the time. Sometimes there is nothing left but to run away, to run for freedom. And that is what Erin and two friends do, run away one night downriver on a raft.
What they find on their journey is stranger than you can imagine, maybe, and you might not think it’s true. But Erin will tell you it is all true. And the proof is a girl named Heaven Eyes, who sees through all the darkness in the world to the joy that lies beneath.
It is 1199 and young Arthur de Caldicot is waiting impatiently to grow up and become a knight. One day his friend’s father, Merlin, gives him a shining piece of obsidian, and his life becomes entwined with that of his namesake, the Arthur whose story he sees unfold in the stone.
In this many-layered novel, King Arthur is seen as a mysterious presence influencing not just one time and place, but many. The 100 short chapters are almost like snapshots, not only of the mythic tales of King Arthur, but the earthy, uncomfortable reality of the Middle Ages. Written in the direct, open voice of a real boy living in a time of uncertainty about the future, this story touches on the issues of war and peace, social inequity, religion, reason, and superstition.
The classic struggle between Greece and Troy brought to life by a panoramic chorus of voices both humble and high, human and divine.
The siege of Troy has lasted almost ten years. Inside the walled city, food is becoming scarce and the death toll is rising. From the heights of Mount Olympus, the Gods keep watch.
But Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, is bored with the endless, dreary war, and so she turns her attention to two sisters: Marpessa, who is gifted with God-sight and serves as handmaiden to Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world; and Xanthe, who is kind and loving and tends the wounded soldiers in the Blood Room. When Eros fits an arrow to his silver-lit bow and lets it fly, neither sister will escape its power. …[more]