Monday, 21 August 2023
The Low Road is published - thanks all!
Book signing at my local bookshop, Ink 84
Thank you again for supporting the publication of The Low Road - and if by any chance you haven't received your copy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get it sent out - or to be talked through downloading your e-book copy. The Low Road was published in the UK in June this year and will be published in the US in September this year. I've been busy book signing around East Anglia and London - including at local bookshops and at Gay's The Word, as well as Waterstones - as well as doing an event at the Hackney Archives about the historical archive work I did and a launch in my hometown of Harleston, at the Historical Society there.
If you have read it, I'd love to hear your views - you can always find me on Facebook - KatharineQuarmbyWriter - or on Twitter @katharineq, or email me through my website, Katharinequarmby.com. If you want to review it, please consider doing that on Amazon, Goodreads or Waterstones - or just let me know! The Low Road is on blog tour this week, which means that book bloggers are reading and reviewing it, so look out for those as well.
There are some reviews below as well.
The Historical Novel Society reviewed it, saying: "The Low Road is a tough read, paradoxically, because of the empathy with which Quarmby tells her story; tougher, too, because it is based on true events. Hannah’s trajectory in life is almost inevitable. She accelerates it by pilfering, but the reasons for her thefts are pitifully human. Sent to a refuge in London, she meets Annie, who is to be the love of her life, but both of them end up in a nightmarish Newgate prison, leavened only by the presence of Elizabeth Fry. The ultimate destination for the two women, though separately, is transportation, to an Australia as lush in colour and birdsong as London was bleak...Quarmby’s imagery is vivid: “…another uniform. It felt damp to the touch, as if everything on board oozed a kind of despair”. Occasionally Hannah tells her story in a dreamlike, almost hallucinatory fugue, as happens with extremes of cold or hunger. The novel is almost a “progress” but closer to Hogarth than Smollett or Cleland; the otherwise voiceless Hannah is granted her place in history at last."
It was also endorsed by other novelists:
"A darkly gripping picaresque tale of cruelty, courage and kindness as an orphaned girl survives poverty and injustice to seek love on the other side of the world" Maggie Gee, author of The White Family.
"Quarmby unites sympathetic examination of a fragmentary historical record with imaginative reconstruction to give a voice to a girl who endured the gravest injustice and misfortune over two centuries ago. Ever evocative of time and place, The Low Road reads compellingly as an act of love and restitution." Lydia Syson, author of Mr Peacock's Possessions.
"Vibrant... Quarmby immerses the reader into the early nineteenth century with this page-turning tale of forbidden passion and a woman’s ultimate triumph over adversity" Michelle Styles, author of The Gladiator's Honour.
"This is a novel about love, betrayal, destitution, and redemption. A heart-rending story, impeccably researched, packed with rich and realistic detail, and reminiscent of the work of Charlotte Brontë and Sarah Waters" Jane Harris, author of The Observations.
Thanks also to historical novelist and scriptwriter Emma Barnes, who wrote: “Historically, most of the population were domestic servants, but it’s hard to get much impression of their lives, for they rarely left any record of their thoughts and experiences. In The Low Road, Quarmby brings servant girl Hannah convincingly to life. Her childhood, where her mother is the servant on a Norfolk Farm, is almost poetically described, evoking the details of a rural world in the early nineteenth century. The idyll is soon shattered, but the book never becomes unbearably bleak, even though the life of a girl without relations or money could be grim indeed. Whether as an “object” in a refuge, preyed on by her employer, experiencing the horrors of nineteen century prisons or on a convict ship, Hannah still met with some compassion and kindness and forged lasting friendships. It’s beautifully written, and Hannah seems entirely believable: not sentimental, often untrusting, but able to maintain her integrity and “to go on” as her mother told her. Most of all I loved the settings, and the small details which brought to life the smells, taste and sounds of those times and places.”
And editor and writer Julia Williams reviewed it thus: “This is a powerful story of a love that endures even to the ends of the earth. Painstakingly researched and based on real-life characters, Quarmby brings Hannah and Annie poignantly to life. She shows us too, the hardships of life for single women with no families during the period, and how so many were condemned with no support or sympathy. At times a hard, and uncompromising read, nonetheless Quarmby has fashioned a beautiful story of forbidden love and loss, and the doggedness of the human spirit, that ultimately leads to redemption.”
Romantic novelist Michelle Smart reviewed it, saying: "This isn't an easy read at times but it's an engrossing one that took me back to the days when I devoured the books of Catharine Cookson. Katharine Quarmby's meticulous research and her love for her subjects shines through, and she brings the past to life beautifully. The writing is exquisite."
In other news, I was lucky enough to be awarded an Arts Council grant to develop a crime series, so that's what I'm working on now. But thanks to all of you for getting me going and for supporting my first novel.