Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pg. 69: Katie Hickman's "The Aviary Gate"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Katie Hickman's The Aviary Gate.

About the book, from the publisher:
Elizabeth Stavely sits in the Bodlean library with trembling hands. Before her is a fragment of parchment which has about it a dusty fragrance of roses, of sadness and great age. Here is the clue she has been looking for, to a story that has been untold for four hundred years. It is as though a voice is whispering softly to her across the centuries. The Aviary Gate is a tale of ancient alliances and intrigues, of forbidden love and dangerous secrets. Lush, magical and utterly absorbing, it is a masterful novel from one of our most acclaimed authors.
Among the early praise for the novel:
"A magical, engrossing read that takes us inside a 16th century harem - and into a world populated by scheming, exotic characters. Coupled with a dual narrative of a 21st-century academic playing detective as she pieces together age-old clues to the whereabouts of a missing girl, this absorbing novel of intrigue and forbidden love manages to be both cerebral and entertaining. With all the intricate detail of historical non-fiction and all the pac of a romantic drama, this really is beautifully written stuff."

"This entrancing novel marries a plot so thrilling you'll miss your station stop with meticulous historical detail..... In 1599 Constantinople, the harem is ruled not by the Sultan, but by his mother, the scheming charming Safiye. Politics, danger, prohibited love and death lurk within. Outside, merchant Paul Pindar discovers that Celia, the woman he loved, is imprisoned inside the harem. Shift to present-day England and, smarting from a doomed love affair, graduate researcher Elizabeth is drawn into unfolding Celia's story. Insatiably gripping."
--Easy Living

"Forbidden love, sailors and secrets - fasten your seat-belt for Hickman's period tome. Celia, a prisoner in the Sultan's harem, is romanced by Paul Pindar, a dashing merchant with a dangerous secret. Think Jane Austen meets the Pirates of the Caribbean."
--In Style

"Dear Reader, lie back on your ottoman and relax. Katie Hickman will take you to a magical land, the Topkapi harem in Istanbul in 1599. Here Celia Lamprey, a captured English lass with golden hair who has been snatched from her father's ship, languishes among the odalisques...... The intricate courts, alleys and secret staircases of the Topkapi are enticingly described and contribute to a plot full of headlong twists and turns..... The death last year of Lesley Blanch, who specialised in writing about women with exotic tastes in distant lands, left a sad gap int his particular genre. Hickman has leapt into the breach with panache with this box of Turkish delights. Enjoy!"
--The Independent

"Hickman has given us a Turkish delight of a novel that should win her legions of fans."
--The Tatler
Read an excerpt from The Aviary Gate, and watch a video of the author discussing the book.

Learn more about the author and her work at Katie Hickman's website.

Katie Hickman is the author of two best-selling history books, Courtesans and Daughters of Britannia, and two travel books, Travels with a Circus, which was shortlisted for the 1993 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, and Dreams of the Peaceful Dragon. Her first novel is The Quetzal Summer, for which she was listed for the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year award.

The Page 69 Test: Katie Hickman's The Aviary Gate.

--Marshal Zeringue