THE SOMNAMBULIST by Essie Fox has been voted a People's Book Prize Finalist by its readers. To see a list of the other finalists and to leave your vote, please click here.
THE SOMNAMBULIST, which is Essie's first novel, is a dramatic Victorian mystery set in the music halls and docks of East London, and an isolated Herefordshire country house, dealing with themes of bigotry, loss and stolen lives. Phoebe Turner grows up believing that her mother is the widowed Maud, who marches with the Hallelujah Army and campaigns for all theatres and bars to be closed. They share a home with Cissy, Phoebe's beautiful unmarried aunt, who sings on the stage, who Phoebe adores, and whose past contains many secrets - not least that Phoebe is her daughter. When Cissy dies of an overdose, Phoebe's world is turned on its head as the web of deceits spun around her start to unravel. As a glamorous businessman appears at Cissy's funeral and hires Phoebe as a companion for his estranged, reclusive wife, Lydia, darker secrets emerge. A darkly compelling and sensual story.
Orion published last month in the UK and rights have also been sold to Castelvecchi in Italy and to Damm in Sweden.
The People's Book Prize team has announced a new partnership aimed at positioning the awards for future development. Founder of the People's Book Prize Tatiana Wilson has joined forces with entrepreneur and renowned international licensing and global rights lawyer, Andrew Eborn, alongside Tony Humphreys and Kate Beal of Talent TV to form a limited company, The People's Book Prize Limited. The first step for the new team is to enhance the multimedia offering of the 2011 awards ceremony by focusing on the online presence and creating brand defining video content.
The People's Book Prize is the only democratic Book Prize voted exclusively by the public so it is the public who choose Britain's Next Bestsellers. Its goals are to discover new talent and support reading uniting the community as a whole. The second awards ceremony takes place at the Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers on 20th July 2011.
Supported by Patron Frederick Forsyth CBE the Award consists of prizes in three genres - fiction, non-fiction and children's literature. Leading up to the ceremony titles are showcased on www.peoplesbookprize.com and the books which receive the most votes go forward as finalists with three authors emerging as winners. In addition, The Beryl Bainbridge Award for First Time Author is given in honour of TPBP founding patron.
PRAISE for THE SOMNAMBULIST
'Vividly compelling, dark and dazzling.' -- Katherine Webb
'THE SOMNAMBULIST has all the ingredients of a classic Victorian melodrama - religion, death, isolated country house, love affairs, betrayal, revenge, a reclusive madwoman, a tall dark stranger, dark alleys frequented by ladies of the night, music hall performers, ghostly apparitions - but Essie manages to weave them all together without ever becoming melodramatic. It is, instead, a ripping yarn that kept me entertained throughout.... I did, at one point, almost miss by tube stop, cliched as that may sound, while approaching a particular twist in the story and this is the sort of book that does weird things with time. You open it up and the next thing you know two hours have passed... If you enjoyed the recent BBC adaptation of The Crimson Petal and the White then I dare say this will be right up your cobbled street. It is darkly entertaining and sometimes quite moving. It will also prove a treat to fans of Victoriana, as will the author's Virtual Victorian blog and her new site dedicated to the book.' -- Scott Pack, meandmybigmouth (blog)