HISTORICAL  | Daily Mail Online


LUX by Elizabeth Cook ( Scribe, £16.99, 416 pp)


by Elizabeth Cook (Scribe, £16.99, 416 pp)

 That King David creepily spied on Bathsheba and contrived to get rid of her husband is well known. The emotional consequences stemming from this moment of lust are less discussed and make up the first part of Lux.

Centuries later, Sir Thomas Wyatt, poet and courtier, watches as tapestries depicting the David and Bathsheba story are unveiled in front of Henry VIII, who is gripped by a similar lust for Ann Boleyn. Working on a new translation of the Psalms, Wyatt perceives additional nuances to the old story.

David was racked by guilt and the author’s account of an Old Testament repentance is a full-throated one. More convincing, however, is the portrait of a talented, complex poet who, in the end, decides he must trust nothing except his imagination. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF FRANNIE LANGTON by Sara Collins (Viking £12.99, 384 pp)

THE CONFESSIONS OF FRANNIE LANGTON by Sara Collins (Viking £12.99, 384 pp)

by Sara Collins (Viking £12.99, 384 pp)

‘I want to assemble pieces of myself,’ writes Frannie Langton. It is 1826 and the former slave on a Jamaican plantation is now on trial in London for the murder of her employers, the enigmatic Charles Benham and his beautiful French wife, Marguerite.

Educated by her previous master but also forced to participate in horrific experiments on other slaves, Frannie was brought to England and given to the Benhams. She falls under the spell of the troubled, neurotic Marguerite, who believes that women have a moral imperative to think about their lives. Frannie’s experiences, written in vivid, at times hectic, prose, reveal a brutal world. The plot has a Gothic edge with a melodramatic overtone, but the racism and cruelty are all too real.



by Meg Keneally (Zaffre £7.99, 400 pp)

FLED by Meg Keneally (Zaffre £7.99, 400 pp)

FLED by Meg Keneally (Zaffre £7.99, 400 pp)

Operating as a highwaywoman in the Devon forest, the young Jenny Trelawney is captured and transported to Australia.

In the late 18th century, the colony is still in its infancy, existence is precarious and the convicts are the bottom of the food chain.

Later, married and a mother, Jenny is clear-eyed about her family’s prospects in a penal set-up and plots to escape. Her idea is jaw-droppingly crazy — to commandeer a rowing boat and to make for West Timor.

The novel, based on the real-life exploits of Mary Bryant, provides a colourfully detailed showcase for the limits of courage, daring and human resourcefulness.

Keneally’s Jenny is a powerful personality and her life is full of incident and tragedy — which was true of the woman on whom she is based.