* A dazzlingly inventive debut, which Hilary Mantel has called wise, poised, and utterly original, out now in paperback
An orphan poses nervously for a Renaissance maestro in medieval Siena, and an artist's servant girl in seventeenth-century Amsterdam snatches a moment away from her work to lose herself in tales of knights and battles. A woman reading in a Shoreditch bar catches the eye of a young man who takes her picture, and a Victorian medium holds a book that she barely acknowledges while she waits for the exposure.
Katie Ward was born in Somerset in 1979. She has worked in the public and voluntary sectors, including at a women's refuge and for a Member of Parliament. Katie lives in Suffolk with her husband and cat.
A real wow of a first novel. The premise is alarmingly simple and yet somehow stunning: seven portraits, seven artists, seven girls and women reading . . . A wonderful, imaginative evocation of seven different worlds . . . It's very rare for a novel to have a real freshness and originality but at the same time to evoke echoes of other literary memories. This feels incredibly clever. It's a book packed full of adventures and stories and you completely lose yourself in them . . . This book's great strength: the perfect, separate, involving worlds it creates. Like Mitchell, Ward is equally adept at shifting between completely different registers and voices . . . It [has] real beating heart . . . It will be fascinating to see what she writes next — Viv Groskop, The Times
A debut of rare individuality and distinction. Katie Ward inhabits each of her seven scenes, her seven eras, with a fluent and intuitive touch, and sentence by sentence, deft and mercurial, she surpasses the readers' expectations. What is set down on the page has a rich and allusive hinterland, so that the reader's imagination has a space to work, and what is unsaid has its own fascination. The writing is full of light and shadow, alive with fresh and startling perceptions. Ward is wise, poised, and utterly original. Her eye and her words are fresh, as if she is inventing the world. — Hilary Mantel
This richly textured novel is composed of seven stories inspired by portraits — Isabel Wolff, The Week
An impressive debut — Holly Kyte, Sunday Telegraph
Intelligently written — Lesley McDowell, Sunday Herald