William Shirburn really isn't into Christmas - all that jingly, tinselly, presenty stuff makes him feel queasy. He'd prefer to spend it alone watching trash with his cat. But there's an unwritten law that elderly people are not allowed to be left alone at Christmas, especially if they live in a vast old mansion that could be a gold-mine in the right hands - and William's relative are very keen to ensure that Haseley House does end up in the right hands!
1963. England is about to explode. An ageing hack defects to Russia. A cabinet minister resigns. A young woman takes an overdose. A Harley Street physician blows out his brains. Commander Troy investigates. But what with the sex and the drugs, he finds that he's up to his neck in the mess, personally and professionally. The damn thing might blow up in his face, and the English can be so unforgiving of a good scandal.
Meret Voytek, pupil of professor Viktor Rosen, a Jew in exile from Germany, watches as Vienna comes under Nazi rule and the repercussions for the Jews. Across Europe, Dr Karel Szabo, a Hungarian physicist, has been interned on the Isle of Man. Rescued by the Americans, they recruit him in building an atomic bomb. Moving from Vienna and Auschwitz to the deserts of New Mexico to London, fate carries the enemy alien, Szabo and gentile Voytek, across the battlefields of the destructive war.
The sisters saw British fascism from behind the scenes and had an equally intimate view of the arrival of Wallis Simpson and the marriage and life of the Windsors. Based on unpublished letters and diaries, this is a wonderfully revealing portrait of British upper-class life during the first half of the 20th century.
"Less interesting than it should be"
Bubbly, rich, delicate, and delightful - the champagne of the House of Peine is everything that Clementine Peine is not. Her father, Olivier, spent more time at the local bar than tending to the vines, and her long-lost sister, Mathilde, has never shown an interest until Olivier's untimely death, when Mathilde turns up determined to make the most of this dwindling asset. And then, out of the blue, a third sister appears: the unwelcome but enchanting Sophie.