Sam Youd (and Peter Graaf) discounted (or free) on kindle this weekend
Sam Youd (aka John Christopher, aka William Godfrey, aka Hilary Ford, aka Stanley Winchester, aka Peter Graaf, aka Anthony Rye, aka Peter Nichols) was born on 16th April 1922. To celebrate his 101th anniversary, this weekend The SYLE Press is discounting all of our titles written under his name, from 15th till 17th April. Note: Amazon begins its promotions from midnight Pacific Standard Time!
London in the late forties: strange shifting times in the aftermath of the war. A motley sample of humanity has washed up on the shores of the down-at-heel boarding house that is 36 Regency Gardens, their mutual proximity enforced by shared impoverishment.
Gentleman publisher Tennyson Glebe, no longer young, watches with mild interest as fellow residents go through the motions of seeking redemption, through politics, through art, through religion; the inconsequentiality of his present existence throwing the past into vivid relief.
And whilst Helen, as landlady, presides over the breakfast table, it is the unnaturally large hands of the diminutive Piers Marchant, Tennyson comes to realise, that seek to control the marionettes’ strings – his own included.
Who was it, after all, who had decided that a séance or two might assuage the evening boredom before the nightly trip to the pub?
Babel Itself is Free on Kindle this weekend.
In 1949, Sam Youd – who would later go on, as John Christopher, to write The Death of Grass and The Tripods – published his first novel. As he later said:
“I knew first novels tended to be autobiographical and was determined to avoid that. So my main character was a woman, from a social milieu I only knew from books, and … [with] a story that progressed from grave to girlhood.”
When Rosemary Hallam dies, what she longs for is the peace of non-existence. Instead, her disembodied spirit must travel back and back, through two world wars and the Depression to her Edwardian childhood, reliving her life through the eyes of her husbands, her sons and others less immune than she to the power of emotion. And the joys and the tragedies which had never quite touched her at the time now pose a real threat to the emotional aloofness she has always been strangely desperate to preserve.
‘You remind me greatly of a swan, dear Mrs Hallam,’ her elderly final suitor had declared, ‘… effortlessly graceful, and riding serenely over the troubling waves of the world as though they never existed.’
The Winter Swan is discounted on Kindle this weekend.
‘It is always nonsense for us that says some are chosen and others left to die. If that should be, it is better not to be chosen.’
‘You mean, we’re all chosen.’
‘No,’ Dadda said. ‘I mean, we are all left to die.’
A Sunday evening in 1921: open house at the modest Liverpool home of Benjamin and Mary Rosenbaum, where Isaak Rosenbaum, visiting from Germany, has been shaken to discover that his brother no longer attends synagogue.
Solly Gruenblum sits down at the piano, and six-year-old David watches spellbound as Jinny O’Neill – ‘glorious and the breath of life itself’ – bursts into song. The following February Isaak and Jinny are married at St Jude’s Catholic Church.
‘We have fought a war, your country and mine,’ Isaak declares before whisking his bride back to Germany. ‘It must not happen again that two such great countries should spill each other’s blood.’
But with the rise of Hitler, Isaak and his family are forced to flee to London, and in 1945, David, now a British army officer, comes face-to-face with the reality of the concentration camps.
Even in a post-war world, though, for David and his German cousins, can the traumas engendered by their mixed heritage ever really be put to rest?
A Palace of Strangers is discounted on Kindle this weekend.
Holly Ash – once a straggle of rural cottages a tram’s ride from Liverpool – has been transformed, Frank Bates discovers when he returns years later as local boy made good. Now a director of Amalgamated Cables, and son-in-law of the chairman, he is shocked to see that in place of Ash Cottages, his boyhood home, rises the red and gold façade of Woolworth’s, the pride of a suburban shopping arcade.
Frank’s childhood had been a solitary one until, exploring one day the abandoned lake pavilion of the Manor House, he first encountered the children of the new local doctor. The natural assurance of the Manson siblings threw into sharp relief his own reserve, his consciousness of the working-class poverty of his upbringing.
John, Patrick, Patricia and Diana, however, accepted him into their tight-knit circle with open-handed generosity. Little did they suspect, as the years passed by, the resentment their quiet childhood companion secretly nursed against their effortless superiority, nor exactly how Frank’s bitterness would play out in their adult lives.
Holly Ash is discounted on Kindle this weekend.
“I used to have a recurrent dream, about opening a drawer and finding a book I’d written, starting to reread it, and realizing with growing excitement that it wasn’t half-bad — in fact, one of my best” — SAM YOUD
To his employers, he was a first-rate engineer. To his friends, he was something of a Don Juan. A more perceptive acquaintance described him as possessed of ‘a kind of bitter integrity’ … But beneath the front, the real Charles Hibson lay buried – deep.
When Hibson was sent to a watch-making factory in Switzerland to supervise the installation of a precision grinder, only his sister Angela could guess what it meant for him to return, as an adult, to the land of their childhood.
Fifteen years had passed, and Irina Toleykov, still as serious and reserved as ever, was no longer the little girl in pigtails. And although the tragic loss of her Russian émigré father and both of her brothers was general knowledge, she, too, had her secrets.
But in Geneva, with its Bar Giovanni and its British Export Commission, where the gulls and swans fought for the scraps tourists threw into the lake, secrets – Hibson was to find – were common currency.
The Gull’s Kiss is discounted on Kindle this weekend.
‘So, you have married these two beautiful young ladies,’ General Tulenkov remarks to Lionel Sickert and his friend John Burchall, ‘and taken them from the shores of sparkling Leman to the dark Lancashire wastes. Love is more powerful than one commonly thinks.’
Their double wedding to sisters Victoria and Katharine, it would seem, will usher in a life of prosperity and contentment in the upper echelons of Edwardian society. To John in particular, the sense of order, privilege and security that pervades his world goes unquestioned, as he and Lionel forge their respective careers in the booming cotton industry.
But then comes the summer of 1914, and the eruption of Europe into war …
The years pass, and prompted by Lionel’s generosity of spirit and impatience with convention, Vicky makes choices which lead inexorably to a rift with the prosperous Burchalls. The consequences of this division must be reaped by the next generation: by the unprincipled Stanley and his unfortunate twin cousins, Joseph and Jane.
Messages of Love is discounted on Kindle this weekend.