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 rated it “A good read!“, and The BookBag loved it: “You’ll smile, cry and sidle to the edge of your seat.”

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.’

That fine author Eugenie Somerfield said: “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.)

Click one of the links to see:
The hardcover version

The KINDLE version:

The paperback version

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

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

That Bookbag review, in more detail said: “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.”


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