American-English author Tracy Chevalier was able to become a full-time writer after her second novel, The Girl with a Pearl Earring, became a best-seller and the inspiration for the film of the same name starring Scarlett Johanssen and Colin Firth. She credits her time working as reference book editor for the skills of research, accuracy and editing as part of the writing process, which help her craft historically accurate novels that draw their readers into the story and keep them enthralled.
Her most recent novel, A Single Thread, is set in Winchester and tells the story of a single woman who carves a place for herself amongst the bells and embroidered cushions of Winchester Cathedral.
Midwife Isabelle du Moulin is marked as different, by both her red hair and her love for the Virgin Mary in her rich blue robes. As religious fervour sweeps 16th-century France, Isabelle’s striking likeness to the Madonna puts her in danger when her village is enraptured by new Protestant doctrine.
Four centuries later, Ella Turner moves to the French village of Lisle-sur-Tarn and finds her dreams are haunted by the colour blue. Ella hopes to become both a midwife and a mother, but her plans unravel as she discovers her link to Isabelle, and her ancestor’s shocking fate.
Those eyes are fixed on someone. But who? What is she thinking as she stares out from one of the world’s best-loved paintings?
Johannes Vermeer can spot exceptional beauty. When servant girl Griet catches his eye, she soon becomes both student and muse. But then he gives her his wife’s pearl earrings to wear for a portrait, and a scandal erupts that could threaten Griet’s future… Vivid and captivating, this timeless modern classic has become a successful film and an international bestseller, with over 5 million copies sold.
Queen Victoria is dead. In January 1901, the day after her passing, two very different families visit neighbouring graves in a London cemetery. The traditional Waterhouses revere the late Queen where the Colemans have a more modern outlook, but both families are appalled by the friendship that springs up between their respective daughters.
As the girls grow up, their world changes almost beyond measure: cars are replacing horses, electric lighting is taking over from gas, and emancipation is fast approaching, to the delight of some and the dismay of others…
1792. Uprooted from their quiet Dorset village to the riotous streets of London, young Jem Kellaway and his family feel very far from home. They struggle to find their place in this tumultuous city, still alive with the repercussions of the blood-splattered French Revolution.
Luckily, streetwise Maggie Butterfield is on hand to show Jem the ropes. Together they encounter the neighbour they’ve been warned about: radical poet and artist William Blake. Jem and Maggie’s passage from innocence to experience becomes the very stuff of poetic inspiration…
Violet is 38. The First World War took everything from her. Her brother, her fiance – and her future. She is now considered a ‘surplus woman’.
But Violet is also fiercely independent and determined. Escaping her suffocating mother, she moves to Winchester to start a new life -a change that will require courage, resilience and acts of quiet rebellion. And when whispers of another world war surface, she must live with a secret that could change everything…
A collection of short stories celebrating Charlotte Bronte, the twenty-one stories in Reader, I Married Him – one of the most celebrated lines in fiction – are inspired by Jane Eyre and shaped by its perennially fascinating themes of love, compromise and self-determination.