Time’s Echo by Pamela Hartshorne (Pan Macmillan 8.99)

Pamela Hartshorne is a well-established York author of historical fiction. Her latest book The Cursed Child, set in Elizabethan England, comes out this March and she will be appearing at the York Literature Festival on March 24th at York Explore with two other well-known historical novelists living in York: Sarah Maine and Tim Murgatroyd (see yorkliteraturefestival.co.uk for more details).

I wanted to pick her earlier book though for this week. I remember when it came out, I was so happy to have a book set in York that felt vivid and real, not just as if the author had visited once or looked up the place names on Google Maps. Pamela is a historian who loves her city. The book is split between modern day York and Tudor times. What is so impressive it the way we really feel like these layers of history exist side by side. Grace Trewe, a modern young woman just back from travelling, is haunted/possessed by the spirit of Hawsie Aske, a servant in Elizabethan York.

Part thriller, part romance, part historical fiction, the book satisfies all camps. We feel how life was back then and get embroiled in a story of injustice, ignorance, greed and lust. At one point, Hawsie makes a mud-clagged trip from Goodramgate to Coney Street during the plague. The size of this journey to Hawsie helps highlight the narrow world of the time and the narrow thinking too. While Grace battles her own demons in the present day, she is forced to tackle Hawksie’s plight as well. We discussed this book in our reading group and all found it an utterly gripping compulsive read.

Philippa Morris,

Little Apple bookshop