New historical books round-up
Kate Summerscale, Paul French, Andrew Martin, Sarah Fraser and John Romer all to release new works
How do you follow up a mind-blowing success like The Suspicions of Mr Whicher? Well, if you’re Kate Summerscale, you understandably get right back onto that period saddle with Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady (Bloomsbury). This time, her take on the dark undercurrents which spilled bad seeds onto starchy Victoriana features the mystery revolving around a well-to-do married woman who inadvisably cavorted with a younger man, also betrothed.
Loved by David Peace, Paul French’s Midnight in Peking: The Murder that Haunted the Last Days of Old China (Viking) concerns the savage slaying in 1937 of the teenage daughter of Peking’s British consul and his determination to never rest until the killer was found. For those who love a bit of darting about the Londinium subway whenever the chance comes, Andrew Martin’s Underground Overground: A Passenger’s History of the Tube (Profile) will be a sweat-induced, claustrophobic treat as he wonders if some gaps should be minded more than others and whether it would be fatal to do a wee-wee on the power supply rail.
Dealing with somewhat more northerly matters, Sarah Fraser writes the story of Lord Simon Lovat, the final nobleman to be executed for treason, in The Last Highlander: Scotland’s Most Notorious Clan-Chief, Rebel and Double-Agent (HarperPress) while John Romer heads for a place in the sun with A History of Ancient Egypt: From the First Farmers to the Great Pyramid (Allen Lane). This first volume of two draws on new evidence suggesting many of the things we take as gospel about that ancient civilisation might well be horribly wrong.