Like Bees to Honey by Caroline Smailes
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Haunting, heartfelt and beautiful’ CHRIS CLEAVE
Nina, her son Christopher in tow, flies to Malta for one last visit with her aging parents.
Her previous attempt to see them ended in tears. Disowned for falling pregnant while at university in England, she was not allowed into the house.
This will be her final chance to make her peace with them.
But Malta holds more secrets and surprises than Nina could possibly imagine. What she finds is not the land of her youth, a place full of memories and happiness. Instead she meets dead people. Lots of them.
Malta, it transpires, is a transit lounge for recently deceased spirits and somehow Christopher enables her to see them, speak with them and help them.
And, in return, they help Nina come to terms with her own loss. One so great that she has yet to admit it to herself.
Like Bees to Honey is a story of family, redemption and ghosts. It is a magical tale that will live with you long after you finish reading.
Ironfire by David Ball
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From the acclaimed author of Empires of Sand comes a mesmerizing new adventure that Jean Auel cites as “crowded with events that both forecast and mirror the conflicts of today.” Sweeping from the drawing rooms of Paris to the palace of Suleiman the Magnificent to the dark hold of a slave ship racing across the sea, here is a dazzling story of love and valor, innocence and identity, an epic novel of the clash of civilizations on a barren island where the future was forged.
The Mediterranean, the sixteenth century: Lying squarely in the midst of the vital sea lanes between the Christian West and the Ottoman Empire in the East, and ruled by the ancient Order of the Knights of St. John, Malta will become the stage upon which the fate of the world turns. For one of its sons, the hand of violence strikes swiftly, when young Nicolo Borg is seized by Barbary slavers and launched on a remarkable journey to the court of the supreme ruler of the Muslim world. Renamed Asha, plotting his escape even as he swears allegiance to the god of his masters and is schooled in the arts of culture and war, the innocent boy will be transformed into one of the Sultan’s deadliest commanders.
For Nico’s beloved sister, Maria, his loss fires her hatred for the knights who did nothing to save him and her dreams of escape from her stifling home. As the headstrong girl grows into a fierce beauty, she will capture the attention of one man in particular, Christien de Vries, a surgeon-knight torn between duty and desire, caught up in Malta’s frantic preparations against the coming Ottoman storm. Around Nico and Maria are men and women who will share their destinies: Dragut Raïs, a brilliant corsair, arch-rival of the knights…Giulio Salvago, a priest in full flight from his carnal nature…Alisa, a young beauty hidden away in a harem…Jean de La Valette, the master knight who is Malta’s only hope for survival.
As the mighty Ottoman fleet bears down on the tiny island, as Nico Borg makes his way back to his homeland at the helm of a warship, Ironfire moves inexorably to a shattering climax where all will face ultimate justice in the murderous cauldron of siege warfare. Brilliantly capturing the crosscurrents of a storied age, Ironfire is historical fiction in the grand tradition, a stirring realization of a pivotal moment in time that irrevocably shaped the world we inhabit today.
The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich
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Hannah Levi is renowned throughout Venice for her gift at coaxing reluctant babies from their mothers -- a gift aided by the secret "birthing spoons" she designed. But when a count implores her to attend to his wife, who has been laboring for days to give birth to their firstborn son, Hannah is torn. A Papal edict forbids Jews from rendering medical treatment to Christians, but the payment he offers is enough to ransom her beloved husband, Isaac, who has been captured at sea. Can Hannah refuse her duty to a suffering woman? Hannah's choice entangles her in a treacherous family rivalry that endangers the baby and threatens her voyage to Malta, where Isaac, believing her dead in the plague, is preparing to buy his passage to a new life. Not since The Red Tent or People of the Book has a novel transported readers so intimately into the complex lives of women centuries ago or so richly into a story of intrigue that transcends the boundaries of history.