A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English
hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.
When Harriet Howard becomes Louis Napoleon’s mistress and financial backer and appears at his side in Paris in 1848, it is as if she has emerged from nowhere. How did the English daughter of a Norfolk boot-maker meet the future Emperor? Who is the mysterious Nicholas Sly and what is his hold over Harriet?
Can Harriet meet her obligations and return to her former life and the man she left behind? What is her involvement with British Government secret services? Can Harriet’s friend, jockey Tom Olliver, help her son Martin solve his own mystery: the identity of his father?
The central character is Harriet Howard and the action takes place between 1836 and 1873. The plot centres on Harriet’s relationships with Louis Napoleon and famous Grand National winning jockey, Jem Mason. The backdrop to the action includes significant characters from the age, including Lord Palmerston, Queen Victoria and the Duke of Grafton, as well as Emperor Napoleon III. The worlds of horse racing, hunting and government provide the scope for rural settings to contrast with the city scenes of London and Paris and for racing skulduggery to vie with political chicanery.
The Merest Loss is historical fiction with a twist. It’s pacy and exciting with captivating characters and a distinctive narrative voice.
GUEST POST From Steven Neil, the author of THE MEREST LOSS
A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.
Inspirations for writing: Ten authors.
Here are ten snapshots of the authors who have inspired me in my writing career.
Ground breaking. Smart, funny, acute and influential on authors ever since. All her novels can be read again and again but I particularly love Mansfield Park and Persuasion.
The master craftsman. Witty, arch, satirical and full of wonderful observation and subtle character assassination. Try the Barchester Chronicles or The Way We Live Now.
The doyen of 19th century rural romance with a cutting edge. Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Far From The Madding Crowd combine plot, character and setting to great effect; elegies to a time gone by.
The man who showed us all how to tell a lot more story in a lot less words. The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls do not disappoint.
A gifted, extravagant and flawed genius. The Great Gatsby still glitters. The best short stories have their own special magic and The Diamond as Big as the Ritz and The Lees of Happiness are two of my favourites.
Doesn’t seem to get the attention he deserves these days but Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath are great examples of how to develop character through dialogue and action rather than telling.
First person stream of consciousness writing at its best. The Catcher in the Rye is quite rightly a modern classic but the much less well known, and equally brilliant, short story collection, For Esme with Love and Squalor, is also a joy.
A truly English 20th century author with his roots in the 19th century. The Magus is wonderfully exotic storytelling and the effortless switching between points of view, in Daniel Martin, shows how it should be done.
An author other writers can learn from: meticulous, elegant and atmospheric. Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go are very different but equally captivating.
A modern ‘great’ in my view. Wolf Hall is not an easy novel but it repays investment and the omniscient narration in the present tense is a powerful mix in Mantel’s hands.
© Steven Neil
THE MEREST LOSS is available in paperback and eBook in the UK, US, France, Canada and Australia.
Follow Steven Neil on https://twitter.com/stevenneil12 for information on how to purchase the paperback through an independent bookseller in the UK.
Steven Neil has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the Open University and an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University. In his working life he has been a bookmaker’s clerk, management tutor, management consultant, bloodstock agent and racehorse breeder. He is married and lives in rural Northamptonshire.
Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100016617465298 and https://twitter.com/stevenneil12