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The Lady's Slipper Paperback – 3 Jun 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (3 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 023074687X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230746879
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 551,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I live in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District, an area made famous by the Romantic Poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge. I'm a bookaholic and I read widely - contemporary and classic fiction as well as historical novels.

In the past I used to work as a set and costume designer for theatre and TV, so I enjoy the research aspect of creating historical fiction, something I loved doing as a scenographer. Each book takes about six months of research before I am ready to begin writing. More details of my research and writing process can be found on my website.

I took an MA in Creative Writing in 2007 and now teach classes and courses in writing, and offer editorial advice from my home.
My books are:
The Lady's Slipper (shortlisted for the Impress Prize)
The Gilded Lily
A Divided Inheritance
Shadow on the Highway (part I of the Highway Trilogy for teens)


The photograph is by Jonathan Bean Photography.

Product Description

Review

'A polished achievement. The plot is set in post Civil War Westmorland and tells the story of Alice Ibbetson, an artist, who becomes captivated by the Lady's Slipper, a rare orchid... But she is not the only one who has a jealous passion for the flower...' --Westmorland Gazette

'The novel grips from the opening lines and carries the interest throughout. The several plot strands are seamlessly blended and come together in a wholly satisfying conclusion. Her characters are so real that they linger in the mind long after the book is back on the shelf. Highly recommended.' --The Historical Novels Review

'This is an utterly captivating novel written with a beautiful observation of detail. ....It is set against an often neglected period of history and the author manages to weave the plot strands of politics, spite, liberty, lust and obsession into a very rich and luscious tapestry.' --Karen Maitland, author of The Owl Killers

'Throughout The Lady's Slipper, Swift writes of things in such detail that you feel like you are holding the lady's slipper in your own hand.....Swift deftly layers plots to build a story that is complex and engaging.'
--Bookgeeks Review

"With realistic dialogue, an author s obvious love for history, and characters that leap off the pages, THE LADY S SLIPPER is a brilliant saga set in a time of confusion in England as it recovers from years of civil strife." --Romance Reviews Today

"Deborah Swift s writing style, combined with her knowledge of mid 17th Century life is masterful in her portrayal of a crueller and less tolerant time, where suspicion is enough to condemn the innocent and women were regarded as the cradle of all evils." --Historical Novel Review Blog

"It is a genuinely engrossing story, with characters you can get interested in." --http://www.themum.co.uk/

"This is an utterly captivating novel written with a beautiful observation of detail. The lives of the characters intertwine in a way that is both intriguing and often completely unexpected. The reader is constantly having to shift their opinion about which character is 'good' and 'bad', making for a fascinating read" --Karen Maitland, author of "Company of Liars" and "The Owl Killers"

"Swift has obviously done her homework, with the historical detail and in particular the account of Alice s time in gaol, being intensely atmospheric .....a delicately handled, loving recreation of a bygone era with all its incongruence." --The Truth about Books

"The Lady's Slipper has all the characteristics of well-received historical romance. Recommended for fans of Philippa Gregory and Rose Tremain, as well as students of the English Civil War." --Library Journal

"A dark and gripping tale deeply rooted in rural English history, The Lady's Slipper reads at times like a 17th-century folk ballad come to life..... a novel as rich and haunting as the setting it evokes." --Reading the Past

"..the history provides a frame of reference for a great story fueled by timeless motives of greed, envy, and lust, and the universal theme of redemption. The intertwined stories of the orchid s fate, the mounting problems between the Quakers and the King s men, and Alice s murder trial and its aftermath make for a riveting narrative." --For the Love of Books Blog

"It is a beautifully told story, set in Restoration Westmorland in 1660, and tells of the tragic consequences of the desire to possess a rare and delicate wild flower. It s a terrific read." --Gabrielle Kimm author of "His Last Duchess"

"an impressive first book indeed.....Swift has done well in creating a richly-textured universe for her story, populating it with characters who are all too human" --PhiloBiblos Blog

"If you are a fan of historical fiction, then definitely pick up The Lady's Slipper, you will enjoy a great story about a beautiful flower and one woman's quest to save it during a time of political unrest. The book would make a wonderful book club pick." --Girls Just Reading blog

"wonderful nuanced characters and an engrossing plot, Deborah Swift has created a rich read. While many people know of the Pilgrims and Puritans fleeing England for religious freedom, Quakers facing religious persecution is a lesser known event. With their belief in non-violence, it is hard to see how they could be thought a threat by the government, but it was interesting to read of the means used to subdue this growing group. Definitely a great read for fans of sweeping historical novels."
--Night Owl Reviews

Book Description

It is 1660. The King is back, but memories of the Civil War still rankle. In rural Westmorland, artist Alice Ibbetson has become captivated by the rare Lady’s Slipper orchid. She is determined to capture its unique beauty for posterity, even if it means stealing the flower from the land of recently converted Quaker, Richard Wheeler. Fired by his newfound faith, the former soldier Wheeler feels bound to track down the missing orchid. Meanwhile, others are eager to lay hands on the flower, and have their own powerful motives. Margaret Poulter, a local medicine woman, is seduced by the orchid’s mysterious herbal powers, while Sir Geoffrey Fisk, Alice’s patron and a former comrade-in-arms of Wheeler, sees the valuable plant as a way to repair his ailing fortunes and cure his own agonizing illness. Fearing that Wheeler and his new friends are planning revolution, Fisk sends his son Stephen to spy on the Quakers, only for the young man to find his loyalties divided as he befriends the group he has been sent to investigate. Then, when Alice Ibbetson is implicated in a brutal murder, she is imprisoned along with the suspected anti-royalist Wheeler. As Fisk’s sanity grows ever more precarious, and Wheeler and Alice plot their escape, a storm begins to brew, from which no party will escape unscathed. Vivid, gripping and intensely atmospheric, The Lady’s Slipper is a novel about beauty, faith and loyalty. It marks the emergence of an exquisite new voice in historical fiction. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dorothy Coxon on 23 Sept. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is much more than a novel; it is also a rivetting social commentary on England in general and Westmorland in particular in the mid to late 17th century. Apart from being a super read with emotive cameos and convincing characterisation it is also the product of in depth research which accurately resurrects the countryside of a rural community steeped in folklore. The countryside plants, their properties and location come alive alongside the brutality and pragmatism of a hierarchical society. This novel deals with life and death matters, religious divisions. affairs of the heart,life at sea before the days of luxury travel and the glorious interweaving of the human condition.In some ways it is larger than life and at other times lost in the minutiae of country concerns; both scenarios are made equally compelling. This book is a must for all readers looking for something out of the ordinary but grippingly alive.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Anna on 12 Aug. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Historical fiction is not what I usually read, but I found Deborah Swift's book impossible to put down - I read it in one session ending at 4am. The plot is uncomplicated but so gripping that I just had to know the end. What sustained my interested was not just the plot, but the attention to detail, the book was like a video in my head, I could see the scenes, hear the voices, sense the colours of that time in history.

This is an excellent first novel. Well done DeborahThe Lady's Slipper (Macmillan New Writing). I'll definitely read the next one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Woody on 17 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover
A fabulous book that gently draws you into the characters's lives and then has you eagerly turning the pages to find out their fate.

Deborah Swift's style of writing is fresh and elegant in its simplicity. Her love and knowledge of history is clear to see in the pages of her book; I can't wait to read her next novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
Whilst I'm known for loving a trip in time with authors like Philippa Gregory, I'm not usually that enamoured of a lot of the historical fiction female writers as they either don't have enough detail within their work or they let it all fall apart with the characters electing to let strong men lead rather than taking the bull by the horns.

What this title from Deborah does restores my fair and gave me a great lead character in the form of Alice Ibbetsen who I grew to care about and like from the get go and then also loved to see what she'd get up to in the tale as it unfurled. Add to this some great prose, some great descriptiveness and of course a plot that focus' on story rather than a huge cast that made this an intimate title that the reader was allowed to share. Wonderfully written and a book I'd recommend to anyone who wants something special either for a birthday present or a special gift.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DizzyC on 22 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
Set in a rural village, in turbulent times, with several powerful characters, including.....

Alice, still in mourning for her young sister, becomes obsessed with the idea that she is the only person who can save The Lady's Slipper and breed more for the orchid's future.

Thomas - Alice's husband who was kind enough to marry Alice and take on her young sister, Flora.

Wheeler, former soldier who has given up his luxurious lifestyle and vowed to live as a peaceful Quaker.

Sir Geoffrey Fisk, patron to Alice and land owner in the village. He has history with Wheeler.

Stephen, Sir Geoffrey's son who has not been quite the son he wanted.

Alice, caught up in the grief of losing her dear sister, steals the only Lady's Slipper growing on the land of her neighbour Richard Wheeler, but she is not the only one interested in the orchid.

So begins a series of fateful events caused by the residents of Westmorland, which include adultery, a murder, and one of the villagers, wrongly, being sentenced to the gallows for the murder. Each have their own selfish intentions, and little regard for each other's well-being or fate. It was quite disturbing how little regard these characters had, for their own people, at times but made for a gripping read.

It was very interesting to read the comparisons between Quakers and the gentry and how their beliefs and lifestyles differed.

The author is a costume designer and this comes through in her writing with fabulous description of the clothing of the period and the difference in dress from the kitchen maid, to the Quakers to the Lord of the Manor. I really enjoyed the detail the author used to describe the sights, sounds and flavours of the period.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Sawers on 30 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
The combination of a naturalist interest (rare orchid) and a period one (17th century Quakerism) was too much to resist for me here. I often find myself reading these sorts of books mentally cataloguing all the mistakes / anachronisms, and in fact there are many to be found here (not addressing a nobleman correctly, drinking from a water butt, leaving cards, sterilising instruments, women's freedom of movement, a gentleman asking a maid her name - they turn up everywhere) yet I find that in this case I forgive them all happily, because it is a genuinely engrossing story, with characters you can get interested in. Is it not though perhaps something of a cliché, I wondered, to build around a tension between a skinny thoughtful middle-class heroine and her buxom, sexually-aggressive maid?

A more serious fault perhaps is the fuzzy, or shifting, focus: the woman who is the main character for the first third of the book (that skinny thoughtful lass I mentioned) promptly disappears for the middle section, which could be confusing. And then, for the final third, she reappears, but we leave the muddy fields and woods of Westmorland and the book suddenly turns into a swash-buckling, bodice-ripping, ship-board romance. Which is fine by me, I really enjoyed it, but I wonder whether some readers might get a little lost? Anyway, I sound critical, but actually, I liked this book a lot. A quiet, bitter-sweet finale rounds the whole thing off well, and though I think it should have had some more editing (well, some editing in the first place) I'd happily recommend it.
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