The Exhibitionists

A spellbinder of a Victorian novel for 2012 – beginning in October 1834: ‘On the night Parliament burnt down, a child was conceived out of wedlock, a baby was abandoned, and another thrown into the Thames.’

The Daily Mail (November 2012) rates this: “A good read!”

That fine author Eugenie Somerfield adds: “At long last I can tell you how very much I’ve enjoyed reading ‘The Exhibitionists’ and how much I admire the skillful construction of the novel, in the way the lives of the three abandoned children are interwoven with those of the contemporary artists, and presented like a series of vignettes. It’s a great ‘page-turner’. I was hooked from the very first paragraph and drawn right into the witnessing of the Great Fire as seen through Turner’s eyes.”

The Exhibitionists sets the story of these three children and their lost parents against those of the artists and art world in the early years of Victoria’s reign. The lives of W M Turner, B R Haydon and the Pre-Raphaelites intercross those of the growing children. One child begins her life in a baby farm run by a deeply religious but hard-headed woman – until she escapes to the Victorian stage; another is adopted and finds work as a newspaper reporter; and the third, a talented artist unable to pursue her dream, is unaware that the man she thinks of as her father is as unaware of the truth as she is herself. Truth and illusion, art and reality, belief and unbelief underpin the story, which culminates dramatically in 1851, the year of the Great Exhibition, the year in which the Pre-Raphaelites made their name.

(The cover picture, in case you hadn’t guessed, is based on Turner’s painting, made on the spot, that momentous evening in 1834.)

You can get a copy in hardback, softback, Kindle or KOBO versions:

Amazon offer
The hardcover version

The KINDLE version:

The paperback version

And CHEAP from KOBO

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78095-004-4

Take a peek inside the book now, on-screen: click here

The first review, on Bookbag, says: A busy fusion of historical fact and fiction as three children grow up in Victorian London unaware of their beginnings against a background of artistic innovation. You’ll smile, cry and sidle to the edge of your seat whilst accidentally absorbing interesting bits of info whether you’re interested in art or not. See the full review on: BOOKBAG

The Historical Novel Society said: James has created a cast of characters that the reader cares about and set them in a vividly described, historically accurate setting. The poverty and unhappiness experienced by many in this era is brought to life. This book is well written and impeccably researched.

5 Responses to The Exhibitionists

  1. Paul Johnston says:

    sounds interesting – despite the lack of flashers

    • No flashers but plenty of other exhibitionists: artists who caused a sensation at the first and second Pre-Raphaelite Exhibitions, early photographic exhibitionists, Haydon’s disastrous exhibition, The Great Exhibition of 1851, plus a host of other extravert personalities . . . During which time the abandoned children become teenagers.

  2. Phil Rickman says:

    Bound to be a work of magnificent towering genius!

    R J Leathery

  3. Ani Johnson says:

    I’m half way through and it is somewhat special.

  4. Pingback: Artists & Exhibitionists « The Booksmatter Blog

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