A spy thriller set in 1980s America and the Scottish Highlands
Ten Great Books set in Cheltenham / Gloucestershire
20th January 2021
Cheltenham / Gloucestershire is the latest location for our ‘Ten Great Books set in…’ series. Ten Great Books set in Cheltenham / Gloucestershire. Cheltenham is a town in Gloucestershire, England, home to the renowned Cheltenham Festival, 4 days of horse jump racing culminating in the Gold Cup, held annually in March at Cheltenham Racecourse. It’s also known for Regency buildings, including the Pittville Pump Room, a remnant of Cheltenham’s past as a spa town. It is, of course, home to the world famous Cheltenham Literary Festival. The county of Gloucestershire comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean.
Gipping: Adjective. Usually referring to something that doesn’t taste nice. ‘That sandwich was absolutely gipping’. Gloucestershire expression.
Paternoster by Kim Fleet
With a thief-taker close on her heels, prostitute Rachel Lovett is forced to leave London and take up residence in a Cheltenham brothel. Greville House seems the perfect place to start her hunt for wealthy clientele but rumours suggest that there is more than just the usual debauchery practised there. Beneath the house, tunnels lead to the sinister Paternoster Club and Rachel must decide how far she is willing to go for the money in their pockets.
An undercover officer assumes a new identity when an operation goes terrifyingly wrong. Now known as private investigator Eden Grey, the mysterious death of one of Eden’s clients leads her into a web of corruption, murder and human trafficking, while the discovery of two centuries-old skeletons in the grounds of a wealthy Cheltenham school might be of greater relevance than she realises…
Cheltenham Then & Now by Sue Rowbotham and Jill Waller
Cheltenham Then & Now is a superb collection photographs of the town, compiled by Sue Rowbotham and Jill Waller. Scenes of yesteryear are contrasted with modern colour views to show what has been lost and what remains. This book offers an insight into peoples daily lives and living conditions in the town, and the nature of the photographs and the authors informative captions show the sometimes drastic changes which have taken place in the name of progress. Drawing on detailed local knowledge of the community and illustrated with a wealth of fascinating images, this book recalls what has changed in Cheltenham in terms of buildings, traditions and ways of life. Witness the people of the past juxtaposed against their twenty-first century descendants. Each pairing of photographs includes detailed captions that will awaken nostalgic memories for all who know and love Cheltenham. Featuring streets and buildings, shops and businesses, and people at work, all aspects of town life are covered.
Votes for Women: Cheltenham and the Cotswolds by Sue Jones
In 1918, after years of campaigning, many British women over the age of 30 gained a parliamentary vote. Cheltenham was the hub of activity in the Cotswolds, and before the First World War it had a number of vigorous societies and individuals. From being imprisoned for trying to approach the prime minister to refusing to be counted in the 1911 census, local women – and many men – from across the region fought a valiant and dignified campaign to make their voices heard. At a time when women had very little power inside or outside the home, this is the story of how they supported each other to demand a say in the affairs of the country. Richly illustrated and featuring previously undiscovered material, this is the first book to investigate the women’s suffrage movement in the Cotswolds and to celebrate the many who supported the cause.
Belas Rift: The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham: Volume 3 by Stephan von Clinkerhoffen
Our young hero Stig and his female partner Meg chase the evil enemy’s leader Anet into a rift. This interdimensional portal brings them from their fantasyland through into a small village in 21st century England. Their mission is to stop this evil human from creating and releasing more deadly creatures back to their world to destroy all life there. Anet would do this so that she could take all the gold and riches which are commonplace there and use them on Earth where they have high value.
Coming from a simple culture with no petrol, electricity or money the pair struggle to understand things like English motorways with roundabouts and traffic lights, creating mayhem as they drive the streets. They wonder why humans are so obsessed with staring at their “little black boxes,” and find that the gold coins in England are not made of gold. Even more shocking is the discovery that humans eat animals, a practice they think of as murder.
There are humorous scenes where Stig misuses electricity and nearly destroys a house, Meg tastes processed food and proclaims it an inedible mix of chemicals and salt, and the couple repay a mean sheep farmer by setting his own sheep on him.
They follow a series of clues which interact with real places, objects and happenings in and around the Cotswolds in England. Eventually discovering an underground Temple of Life managed by immortalised people from English history, and from their own world all working together.
Note: The book brings fantasy characters from their world to Gloucestershire in England. They visit Deerhurst, Apperley, Winchcombe, Stanway, Cheltenham and other places in the Cotswolds. Sudeley Castle, Belas Knap and St. Peters Church are among other locations mentioned. A great read for all ages especially if you are visiting Gloucestershire.
A Quiet Life in the Country by T E Kinsey
Lady Emily Hardcastle is an eccentric widow with a secret past. Florence Armstrong, her maid and confidante, is an expert in martial arts. The year is 1908 and they’ve just moved from London to the country, hoping for a quiet life.
But it is not long before Lady Hardcastle is forced out of her self-imposed retirement. There’s a dead body in the woods, and the police are on the wrong scent. Lady Hardcastle makes some enquiries of her own, and it seems she knows a surprising amount about crime investigation…
As Lady Hardcastle and Flo delve deeper into rural rivalries and resentment, they uncover a web of intrigue that extends far beyond the village. With almost no one free from suspicion, they can be certain of only one fact: there is no such thing as a quiet life in the country.
Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile by Alice Jolly
If you tell a story oft enough
So it become true
As the nineteenth century draws towards a close, Mary Ann Sate, an elderly maidservant, sets out to write her truth.
She writes of the Valleys that she loves, of the poisonous rivalry between her employer’s two sons and of a terrible choice which tore her world apart.
Her haunting and poignant story brings to life a period of strife and rapid social change, and evokes the struggles of those who lived in poverty and have been forgotten by history.
In this fictional found memoir, novelist Alice Jolly uses the astonishing voice of Mary Ann to recreate history as seen from a woman’s perspective and to give joyful, poetic voice to the silenced women of the past.
Mrs P’s Book of Secrets by Lorna Gray
There are no white shrouded spectres here, no wailing ghouls. Just the echoes of those who have passed, whispering that history is set to repeat itself …
The Cotswolds, Christmastime 1946:
A young widow leaves behind the tragedy of her wartime life, and returns home to her ageing aunt and uncle. For Lucy – known as Mrs P – and the people who raised her, the books that line the walls of the family publishing business bring comfort and the promise of new beginnings.
But the kind and reserved new editor at the Kershaw and Kathay Book Press is a former prisoner of war, and he has his own shadows to bear. And when the old secrets of a little girl’s abandonment are uncovered within the pages of Robert Underhills’s latest project, Lucy must work quickly if she is to understand the truth behind his frequent trips away.
For a ghost dwells in the record of an orphan girl’s last days. And even as Lucy dares to risk her heart, the grief of her own past seems to be whispering a warning of fresh loss…
Beneath the Apple Blossom by Kate Frost
Four women, linked by blood ties, friendship, betrayal, loss and hope, struggle with the choices they’ve made and the hand that life’s dealt them.
All Pippa’s ever wanted is marriage and kids, but at thirty-four and about to embark on IVF, her dream of having a family is far from certain. Her younger sister Georgie has the opposite problem, juggling her career, her lover, a young daughter and a husband who wants baby number two.
Pippa’s best friend Sienna has a successful career in the film world, and despite her boyfriend pressurising her to settle down, a baby is the last thing she wants. Happily married Connie shares the trauma of fertility treatment with Pippa, but underestimates the impact being unable to conceive will have on her and her marriage.
As their lives collide in a way they could never have predicted, will any of them get to see their hopes realised?
The Secret of You by Victoria Connelly
Journalist Anna McCall has never understood people who collect things so, when she’s asked to interview local collector and eccentric, William Kitson, she isn’t exactly looking forward to the experience.
But she soon falls under the charm of Fox Hill Manor as well as its owner, even though she thinks there’s something very strange about the collection there. What exactly is William hiding in the unused wing of the manor house? And is it a story Anna could sell?
Set in the beautiful Cotswolds, The Secret of You is a novel about love, trust and antiques from the bestselling author of A Weekend with Mr Darcy and Wish You Were Here.
John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk
From the bestselling author of Lemprière’s Dictionary, Lawrence Norfolk is back with an astounding novel of seventeeth-century life, love and war: the story of an orphan who becomes the greatest cook of his age.
The village of Buckland, 1625. A boy and his mother run for their lives. Behind them a mob chants of witchcraft. Taking refuge among the trees of Buccla’s Wood, the mother opens her book and tells her son of an ancient Feast kept in secret down the generations. But as exquisite dishes rise from the page, the ground beneath them freezes. That winter, the boy’s mother dies.
Taken to Buckland Manor, John is put to work in the house’s vast subterranean kitchens where his talent raises him from the scullery to the great house above. A complex dish served to King Charles brings him before Lady Lucretia Fremantle, the headstrong daughter of the house. He must tempt her from her fast.
But both encounters will imperil him. As the Civil War begins and the New Order’s fanatical soldiers march, John and Lucretia are thrown together into a passionate struggle for survival. To keep all he holds most dear, John must realise his mother’s vision. He must serve the Saturnall Feast.
Enjoy your reading set in Cheltenham and Gloucestershire!
Tony for the TripFiction team
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I’d also suggest “Comeback” by Dick Francis