THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
'The finest novel Dunmore has written.' Observer
'Superb and poignant.' Guardian
'Quietly brilliant ... among the best fiction of our time.' Daily Telegraph
It is 1792 and Europe is seized by political turmoil and violence.
Lizzie Fawkes has grown up in Radical circles where each step of the French Revolution is followed with eager idealism. But she has recently married John Diner Tredevant, a property developer who is heavily invested in Bristol's housing boom, and he has everything to lose from social upheaval and the prospect of war.
Diner believes that Lizzie's independent, questioning spirit must be coerced and subdued. She belongs to him: law and custom confirm it, and she must live as he wants.
But as Diner's passion for Lizzie darkens, she soon finds herself dangerously alone.
Nominated for the 2018 Independent Booksellers Week Award
Longlisted for the 2018 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction
This brilliant novel from the late Dunmore addresses the very issues with which all authors must grapple: What does one leave behind as a writer? What is the mark writers leave upon time? The layered story begins with a man coming across the 18th-century headstone of Julia Elizabeth Fawkes, inscribed, "Her Words Remain Our Inheritance." But no record of her writing survives. Dunmore then leads the reader back 200 years to the cover-up of a murder, and then to Lizzy Fawkes Tredevant daughter of the aforementioned Julia, raised among radicals in the English city of Bristol during the tumultuous period of the French Revolution. The willful Lizzy has married John Diner Tredevant, an ambitious builder with a dark past, who is hostile to the new political ideas making their way to England from Paris, ideas he believes may destroy his business prospects. He also resents Lizzy's susceptibility to the influence of her mother and Julia's entourage of English radicals. Lizzy and her mother are very close; when tragedy visits Julia's household, Lizzy is left with an enormous responsibility. As the revolution in France comes to its frenzied zenith, Tredevant's creditors balk, and his project for a terrace of houses in Bristol collapses. As her husband's debts overwhelm them, Lizzy's very life is threatened and John unravels into desperation. Dunmore has left readers with memorable, fascinating characters, both historical and fictional, "whose struggles and passions have been hidden from history.... But even so, did they not shape the future?"