Barbara Ewing - The Mesmerist - Little, Brown Book Group

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The Mesmerist

Number 1 in series

By Barbara Ewing

  • Paperback
  • £8.99

A captivating, rich historical novel set in nineteenth-century Bloomsbury.

London, 1838: the controversial practice of Mesmerism, with its genuine practitioners and its fraudulent chancers, has hypnotised the city. Miss Cordelia Preston, a beautiful, ageing, out-of-work actress terrified of returning to the poverty of her childhood, suddenly emerges as a Lady Phreno-Mesmerist. In her candle-lit Bloomsbury basement she learns to harness her talent - and to finally look towards the future.

But success is fragile when you have a past filled with secrets. On a wintry, moonlit night a body is found in Bloomsbury Square, and what began as an audacious subterfuge erupts into a scandal. Cordelia's past is revealed, bringing not only heartache but terror - and the mystery of a cloaked figure who waits for her in the shadowy London streets.

Biographical Notes

Barbara Ewing is a New Zealand-born actress and author who lives in London. She has a university degree in English and Maori and won the Bancroft Gold Medal at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. www.barbaraewing.com

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9780751537604
  • Publication date: 15 May 2008
  • Page count: 400
  • Imprint: Sphere
Mesmerically gripping — Sainsbury’s MAGAZINE
The enormous spirit of the characters and overriding sense of fun gives this book warmth and appeal — Waterstone’s Books Quarterly
Written with insight, intelligence and style, a highly engaging and entertaining read with a complex plot and a cast of utterly believable characters — SYDNEY Morning HERALD
A good-humoured saga — SUN HERALD
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1849. At sixteen, Harriet Cooper has only one person keeping her from ruin, her older sister, Mary. Their father, Sir Charles, is obsessed with his youngest child and because their mother is dead it is Mary who keeps watch over Harriet's bedroom door. But when Mary dies in London's cholera epidemic, Harriet becomes a prisoner in her own home, her father would rather she acted as his wife than his daughter and she can see nothing but horror before her. It seems impossible, but her only escape route is to flee after her cousin Edward who has recently emigrated to the new colony of New Zealand. Sheltered as her life has been, Harriet discovers untapped reserves of bravery and courage and manages to get herself on a boat bound for Wellington. But as soon as her father realises what she has done, he chases her across oceans and uncharted waters to the other side of the world, where thousands have gone seeking a new life and where Harriet thought he would never find her...

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Margaret Rose Bennett, like her elder sister, Elizabeth, was named after the two English princesses. But Elizabeth is dead, and Margaret Rose still living, searching and reaching out for life and its meaning. And against the frankly odd, strained and curiously English household she inhabits in a New Zealand city, it is hard to make out the truth. So Margaret abandons what her parents think is right: learning English history, the French language, listening to comedy shows on the World Service and returning home on the 9.30 tram and maps out a course of her own. She studies Maori at University, makes friends with the wayward Emily (daughter of the soon to be Prime Minister of New Zealand) and shy, independent Prudence. As a trio they study hard for their degrees, work by day at the local Government offices and by night sing, drink and laugh with the local Maori people - and fall in love. A new world, an enchanting world, and one with an underbelly of struggle, colour, passion and even violence. Far removed from the closed, ordered life of Margaret Rose's family, but perhaps not so detached from their own, secret history...Here is an extraordinary, poetic novel of a society trapped in a time of its own, undercut by a people that live and breathe with a vigour that bubbles and burst through the silent surface.

Ace Atkins

Ace Atkins is a former Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist who cut his teeth as a crime reporter in the newsroom of the Tampa Tribune. He published his first novel at the age of 27 and became a full-time novelist at 30. Ace lives on a historic farm outside Oxford, Mississippi with his family.

Ali McNamara

Ali McNamara attributes her over-active and very vivid imagination to one thing - being an only child. Time spent dreaming up adventures when she was young has left her with a head bursting with stories waiting to be told.When stories she wrote for fun on Ronan Keating's website became so popular they were sold as a fundraising project for his cancer awareness charity, Ali realised that not only was writing something she enjoyed doing, but something others enjoyed reading too. Ali lives in Cambridgeshire with her family and two Labradors. When she isn't writing, she likes to travel, read, and people-watch, more often than not accompanied by a good cup of coffee. Her dogs and a love of exercise keep her sane!To find out more about Ali visit her website: www.alimcnamara.co.uk or follow her on Twitter: @AliMcNamara

Alison Lucy

Alison Lucy is the author of several novels including How to be Famous and Summer of Secrets. Before becoming a full-time writer, Alison worked in the film industry for ten years, starting her career as an at ICM before becoming an agent at the Cassaratto Company representing writers and directors.Alison enjoys writing books and travelling the world. When not off gallivanting she lives in the Cotswolds with her husband and two children.

Anja de Jager

Anja de Jager is a London-based native Dutch speaker who writes in English. She draws inspiration from cases that her father, a retired police detective, worked on in the Netherlands. Anja worked in the City for twenty years but is now a full-time writer. She is currently working on the next Lotte Meerman novel.

Barbara Cardy

BARBARA CARDY originally trained in art, design and construction, before moving through a variety of careers. To date, she has edited twenty-seven anthologies of various kinds. She lives in Kent with her two boys.

Cath Staincliffe

Cath Staincliffe is an award winning novelist, radio playwright and creator of ITV's hit series Blue Murder. Cath's books have been shortlisted for the CWA Best First Novel award. She was joint winner of the CWA Short Story Dagger in 2012. Letters To My Daughter's Killer was selected for the Specsavers Crime Thriller Book Club on ITV3 in 2014. Cath also writes the Scott & Bailey books based on the popular ITV series. She lives with her family in Manchester.

Catherynne M. Valente

Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times bestselling author of over two dozen works of fiction and poetry, including Palimpsest, the Orphan's Tales series, Deathless and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus and Hugo awards. She has been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with a small but growing menagerie of beasts, some of which are human.

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

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D.J. Taylor

D. J. Taylor is a writer and critic. His collection of short stories, After Bathing at Baxter's was published in 1997 and he is the author of six novels: Great Eastern Land (1986); Real Life (1992); English Settlement (1996); Trespass (1998), a satire of 1970s England; The Comedy Man (2001), the story of one half of a comedy duo; and Kept: A Victorian Mystery (2006). Several of his books are set in his home city of Norwich.His books of non-fiction include Afer the War: The Novel and England Since 1945 (1993); A Vain Conceit: British fiction in the 1980s (1989), a critical look at the quality of fiction-writing in Britain; and most recently, Bright Young People: The Rise and Fall of a Generation 1918-1940. He is also well-known for his biographies: Thackeray (1999); and Orwell: The Life, published in 2003 to coincide with the centenary of Orwell's birth. This book won the 2003 Whitbread Biography Award.

David Samuel Levinson

DAVID SAMUEL LEVINSON is the author of Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence and the story collection, Most of Us Are Here Against Our Will. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has received fellowships from Yaddo, the Jentel Foundation, Ledig House, the Santa Fe Arts Institute, the Sewanee Writers' Conference and the Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers. He has also been published in The Atlantic, RE:AL, storySouth, The James White Review, The New Penguin Book of Gay Short Stories, The Brooklyn Review, Prairie Schooner, The Toronto Quarterly, West Branch, and Post Road, among others. He has formerly served as the Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College and as the Fellow in Fiction at Emory University. He lives in Brooklyn.

Frederick Reiken

Frederick Reiken is the author of two previous novels, The Odd Sea (1998) and The Lost Legends of New Jersey (2000). His short stories have appeared in the New Yorker and his essays in the anthology Living on the Edge of the World (2008). He has worked as a reporter and columnist, and is currently a member of the writing faculty at Emerson College.

Gabriella Pierce

GABRIELLA PIERCE is an American who lives in Paris with her two dogs. 666 Park Avenue in the first of three books in the 666 Park Avenue series.

Gardner Dozois

Gardner Dozois edited Asimov's Science Fictionmagazine for twenty years. He has won the Hugo Award for Best Editor fifteen times and has also received numerous Nebula Awards. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Grace Paley

Born in the Bronx in 1922, Grace Paley was a renowned writer and activist. Her Collected Stories was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Her other collections include Enormous Changes at the Last Minute and Just As I Thought. She died in Vermont on August 22, 2007.

J. Courtney Sullivan

J. COURTNEY SULLIVAN is the New York Times best-selling author of the novels The Engagements, Maine, and Commencement. Maine was named a 2011 Time magazine Best Book of the Year and a Washington Post Notable Book. The Engagements was one of People Magazine's Top Ten Books of 2013 and an Irish Times Best Book of the Year, and has been translated into seventeen languages. She has contributed to The New York Times Book Review, the Chicago Tribune, New York magazine, Elle, Glamour, Allure, Real Simple, and O: The Oprah Magazine, among many other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

James Miller

James Miller was born in London in1976. He recently completed a PhD in African-American literature at King's College London. He also has a First in English Literature from Oxford University and an MA (Distinction) from University College London. He currently teaches twentieth century American literature and critical theory at King's College London and English A-level at an exclusive private college in Earl's Court.