Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bristol House by Beverly Swerling

If you read enough historical fiction, you learn pretty quickly that there can be a wide range of historical in the fiction.  Some historical fiction is light and entertaining, and you learn a few things.  Other historical fiction is like a juicy steak that you can sink your teeth into--and that's just what Bristol House is--a perfectly done steak when you're ravenous for some beef.

Beverly Swerling delves into the London of 1535, when Henry the 8th was in power, Jews were forbidden to live in England, and monks were being defrocked and killed by Henry's minions.  The 16th century is neatly tied into today's world by Annie Kendall, an architecture historian who is given a second chance at a career by being hired to travel to London and find evidence that a man known as the Jew of Holborn actually existed in London during Tudor times.  What made this man so special was what he brought with him:  priceless Jewish relics of worship from the original Temple in Jerusalem.  Where did they go?  How can they be found?  Is it all just a myth?  

Annie soon finds out that some people aren't being honest with her, and her "boss", Philip Weinraub may have much darker motives.

Annie is pretty darn smart, and she's soon partnering with the handsome Geoff Harris, a TV personality in London who likes to dig into political issues.  He's also a dead ringer for the ghostly  monk that keeps appearing in the back bedroom of Annie's apartment.  

Have I sucked you in yet?  Do you feel the need to rush out and read this novel?  Yes?  Good.  Cause it is really really enjoyable, and the more you read, the more complex it gets.  The story is a giant puzzle, and it slowly comes together into a fascinating story of faith, history, and the supernatural.  

This novel is great for anyone who likes Tudor history, codes, Jewish history, and a great, meaty historical tale.  Beverly Swerling is a great writer and neatly ties the past into the present.  What does a recovering alcoholic have in common with a ghostly monk from the 16th century?  Plenty.  Read and find out!

Rating:  8/10 for a complex historical novel that shows a lot of research into the subject; likeable characters, and an entertaining thriller.

Available in hardcover, e-book, and audio.

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