The Storms of War: A Novel (The Storms of War)

Pegasus Books
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For fans of Atonement, Birdsong, and Downton Abbey, the first of three novels about a privileged British family enduring the trials of World War I, from New York Times bestselling author Kate Williams. In the idyllic early summer of 1914, life is good for the de Witt family. Rudolf and Verena are planning the wedding of their daughter Emmeline, while their eldest son, Arthur, is studying in Paris, and Michael is just back from his first term at Cambridge. Celia, the youngest of the de Witt children, is on the brink of adulthood and secretly dreams of escaping her carefully mapped-out future and exploring the world.

But the onslaught of war changes everything and soon the de Witts find themselves sidelined and in danger of losing everything they hold dear. As Celia struggles to make sense of the changing world around her, she lies about her age to join the war effort and finds herself embroiled in a complex plot that puts not only herself but those she loves in danger.

With gripping detail and brilliant empathy, Kate Williams tells the story of Celia and her family as they are shunned by a society that previously embraced them, torn apart by sorrow, and buffeted and changed by the storms of war.

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About the author

Kate Williams is Professor of History at the University of Reading and the author of England’s Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton. Her other books include the New York Times bestseller Becoming Queen Victoria and Ambition and Desire, a biography of Josephine Bonaparte. She serves as CNN’s royal historian and appears regularly on TV and radio as a historical adviser.

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Additional Information

Pegasus Books
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Published on
Sep 15, 2015
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Fiction / Coming of Age
Fiction / General
Fiction / Historical
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She was the most famous woman in England–the beautiful model for society painters Joshua Reynolds and George Romney, an icon of fashion, the wife of an ambassador, and the mistress of naval hero Horatio Nelson. But Emma Hamilton had been born to the poverty of a coal-mining town and spent her teenage years working as a prostitute. From the brothels of London to the glittering court of Naples and the pretentious country estate of the most powerful admiral in England, British debut historian Kate Williams captures the life of Emma Hamilton with all its glamour and heartbreak.

In lucid, engaging prose, Williams brings to life a complex and intelligent woman. Emma is sensuous, generous, artistic, at once shamelessly seductive and recklessly ambitious. Willing to do anything for love and fame, she sets out to make herself a star–and she succeeds beyond even her wildest dreams. By the age of twenty-six, she leaves behind the precarious life of a courtesan to become Lady Hamilton, wife of Sir William Hamilton–the aging, besotted, and probably impotent British ambassador to the court of Naples.
But everything changes when Lord Nelson steams into Naples harbor fresh from his triumph at the Battle of the Nile and literally falls into Emma’s adoring arms. Their all-consuming romance–conducted amid the bloody tumult of the Napoleonic Wars–makes Emma an international celebrity, especially when she returns to England pregnant with Nelson’s baby.

With a novelist’s flair and an historian’s eye for detail, Williams conjures up the world that Emma Hamilton conquered by the sheer force of her charisma. All but inventing the art of publicity, Emma turned herself into a kind of flesh-and-blood goddess–celebrated by wits and artists, adored by thousands, and, for a time, very rich. Yet Emma was willing to throw it all away for the man she adored.
After four years of archival research and making use of hundreds of previously undiscovered letters and documents, Kate Williams sets the record straight on one of the most fascinating and ravishing women in history. England’s Mistress captures the relentless drive, the innovative style, and the burning passion of a true heroine.

From the Hardcover edition.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale comes a “thought-provoking [and] complex tale about two families, two generations apart . . . based on a notorious true-life scandal.”*

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

*Library Journal

Praise for Before We Were Yours

“A [story] of a family lost and found . . . a poignant, engrossing tale about sibling love and the toll of secrets.” —People

“Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year. . . . Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you’ll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann’s legacy.” —Parade

“One of the year’s best books . . . It is impossible not to get swept up in this near-perfect novel.” —The Huffington Post

“Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power.” —Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of Circling the Sun
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The perfect companion to the PBS Masterpiece series Victoria • A gripping account of Queen Victoria’s rise and early years in power from CNN’s official royal historian

“Kate Williams has perfected the art of historical biography. Her pacy writing is underpinned by the most impeccable scholarship.”—Alison Weir
In 1819, a girl was born to the fourth son of King George III. No one could have expected such an unassuming, overprotected girl to be an effective ruler—yet Queen Victoria would become one of the most powerful monarchs in history.
Writing with novelistic flair and historical precision, Kate Williams reveals a vibrant woman in the prime of her life, while chronicling the byzantine machinations that continued even after the crown was placed on her head. Upon hearing that she had inherited the throne, eighteen-year-old Victoria banished her overambitious mother from the room, a simple yet resolute move that would set the tone for her reign. The queen clashed constantly not only with her mother and her mother’s adviser, the Irish adventurer John Conroy, but with her ministers and even her beloved Prince Albert—all of whom attempted to seize control from her.
Williams lays bare the passions that swirled around the throne—the court secrets, the sexual repression, and the endless intrigue. The result is a grand tale of a woman whose destiny began long before she was born and whose legacy lives on.
Praise for Becoming Queen Victoria
“An informative, entertaining, gossipy tale.”—Publishers Weekly
“A great read . . . With lively writing, Ms. Williams [makes] the story fresh and appealing.”—The Washington Times
“Sparkling, engaging.”—Open Letters Monthly
From CNN’s official royal historian, a highly praised young author with a doctorate from Oxford University, comes the extraordinary rags-to-riches story of the woman who conquered Napoleon’s heart—and with it, an empire.
Their love was legendary, their ambition flagrant and unashamed. Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife, Josephine, came to power during one of the most turbulent periods in the history of France. The story of the Corsican soldier’s incredible rise has been well documented. Now, in this spellbinding, luminous account, Kate Williams draws back the curtain on the woman who beguiled him: her humble origins, her exorbitant appetites, and the tragic turn of events that led to her undoing.
Born Marie-Josèphe-Rose de Tascher de La Pagerie on the Caribbean island of Martinique, the woman Napoleon would later call Josephine was the ultimate survivor. She endured a loveless marriage to a French aristocrat—executed during the Reign of Terror—then barely escaped the guillotine blade herself. Her near-death experience only fueled Josephine’s ambition and heightened her  determination to find a man who could finance and sustain her. Though no classic beauty, she quickly developed a reputation as one of the most desirable women on the continent.
In 1795, she met Napoleon. The attraction was mutual, immediate, and intense. Theirs was an often-tumultuous union, roiled by their pursuit of other lovers but intensely focused on power and success. Josephine was Napoleon’s perfect consort and the object of national fascination. Together they conquered Europe. Their extravagance was unprecedented, even by the standards of Versailles. But she could not produce an heir. Sexual obsession brought them together, but cold biological truth tore them apart.
Gripping in its immediacy, captivating in its detail, Ambition and Desire is a true tale of desire, heartbreak, and revolutionary turmoil, engagingly written by one of England’s most praised young historians. Kate Williams’s searing portrait of this alluring and complex woman will finally elevate Josephine Bonaparte to the historical prominence she deserves.

Praise for Ambition and Desire
“Not just a scholarly work, but a page-turner . . . Williams is no stranger to creating works on strong and influential women, and, as in those works, here she does an admirable job of demystifying Josephine. . . . This engrossing and accessible account is for all readers who enjoy historical biography.”—Library Journal
“[A] riveting account . . . Williams perfectly illustrates all that was bizarre and maddening about French life during the reign of Josephine and Napoleon Bonaparte.”—Publishers Weekly
“Intelligent and entertaining.”—Kirkus Reviews
“An in-depth portrait of the substantive woman behind the throne.”—Booklist

“Reading [Ambition and Desire] is like watching Silk Stockings, the 1957 Hollywood masterpiece with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. The book flows and jumps, taking the reader by the hand through tormented times in French history without ever letting you go or losing itself in the intricacies of French politics.”—The Times
“A sparkling account of this most fallible and endearing of women.”—Daily Mail
“A whirlwind tour of French history.”—The Telegraph

From the Hardcover edition.
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