Favourite books of Deborah Harkness

Deborah Harkness

Deborah Harkness is an American scholar, novelist and wine enthusiast, best known as a historian and the author of the "All Souls" Trilogy which begins with The New York Times best selling novel A Discovery of Witches and includes its sequels Shadow of Night and The Book of Life.

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Favorite books of Deborah Harkness:

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Deborah Harkness recommends The Miniaturist

My favorite book of the year, Burton’s novel tells the tale of a young woman named Nella Oortman, her promising marriage to one of the city’s wealthiest merchants, and a lavishly-decorated miniature replica of their Amsterdam house. Burton’s sumptuous language and gloriously detailed depiction of Dutch culture in the seventeenth-century creates an utterly believable yet thoroughly magical world thanks to her deft handling of prosaic details from daily life as well as a growing sense of mystery and wonder as the secrets of the household—large and small—are revealed.

"There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed..." On a cold winter's day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways... Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realises the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

The Quick by Lauren Owen

Deborah Harkness recommends The Quick

Owen takes the gothic conventions of the vampire novel in a refreshing new direction, one that reimagines London at the end of the nineteenth-century and places the vampire in glittering ballrooms, cozy drawing rooms, and imposing gentlemen’s clubs as well as haunting squalid streets, sharing the dens of thieves, and funding work undertaken in scientific laboratories. Atmospheric and macabre, this is a cracking good read for a cold winter’s weekend.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SLATE Includes an exclusive conversation between Lev Grossman and Lauren Owen For fans of Anne Rice, The Historian, and The Night Circus, an astonishing debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and menace of Victorian London 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Alarmed, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine London that greets her, she uncovers a hidden, supernatural city populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling Doctor Knife. But the answer to her brothers disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of the exclusive, secretive Aegolius Club, whose predatory members include the most ambitious, and most bloodthirsty, men in England. In her first novel, Lauren Owen has created a fantastical world that is both beguiling and terrifying. The Quick will establish her as one of fictions most dazzling talents. Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Readers Circle for author chats and more. A suspenseful, gloriously atmospheric first novel, and a feast of gothic storytelling that is impossible to resist.Kate Atkinson A cracking good read . . . Owen takes the gothic conventions of the vampire novel in a refreshing new direction.Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of Witches and The Book of Life A good old-fashioned vampire novel . . . What fun.The New York Times Book Review (Editors Choice) The Quick is that rare book that reviewers and readers live for: both plot- and character-driven, a stay-up-all-night reading romp. . . . This is elegant, witty, force-of-nature writing.The Dallas Morning News The books energy, its wide reach and rich detail make it a confident example of the unputdownable novel.The Economist A seamless blend of Victorian London and rich imagination.Tana French, author of In the Woods A thrilling tale . . . This book will give you chills even on a hot day.Minneapolis Star Tribune Stylishly sinister . . . will have you sleeping with the lights on.O: The Oprah Magazine A sly and glittering addition to the literature of the macabre.Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall A big, sly bucketful of the most tremendous fun . . . [Owen] weaves whats here with whats beyond as easily as J. K. Rowling does.Slate [An author of] prodigious gifts . . . Owen captures Dickenss London with glee and produces a number of characters Dickens would be happy to call his own.Pittsburgh Post-Gazette From the Trade Paperback edition.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Deborah Harkness recommends Station Eleven

Even if you think dystopian fiction is not your thing, I urge you to give this marvelous novel a try. The plot revolves around a pandemic that shatters the world as we know it into isolated settlements and the Traveling Symphony, a roving band of actors and musicians who remind those who survived the catastrophe about hope and humanity. The questions raised by this emotional and thoughtful story—why does my life matter? what distinguishes living from surviving?—will stay with you long after the satisfying conclusion.

2014 National Book Award Finalist A New York Times Bestseller An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilizations collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthurs chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them. Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirstens arm is a line from Star Trek: Because survival is insufficient. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave. Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

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