As Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature at Leeds University I have spent most of my life researching and writing about the early eighteenth century and bringing it alive for students, and so this turn to historical fiction is a natural one for me. I have published books on the period and have lectured regularly in Europe, the Far East, and the USA.
Chocolate House Treason is the first novel of a projected trilogy, set in the London of Queen Anne.
Covent Garden in January 1708, and Widow Trotter has big plans for her recently-inherited coffee house, not suspecting that within days her little kingdom will be caught up in a national drama involving scandal, conspiracy and murder.
Queen Anne's new "Great Britain" is in crisis. The Queen is mired in a sexual scandal, spies are everywhere, and political disputes are bringing violence and division. The treasonous satirist "Bufo" is public enemy number one and the Ministry is determined to silence him. Drawn into a web of intrigue that reaches from the brothels of Drury Lane to the Court at St James's Palace, Mary Trotter and her young friends Tom and Will race against time to unravel the political plots, solve two murders, and prevent another.
The first in a projected series of "Chocolate House Mysteries" the novel presents the London of Queen Anne in all its brilliance and filth, its violence, elegance and wit: this is the world of The Favourite but the authentic version, fuller, truer, and more sparkling.
In this book the energies of the early eighteenth century are on display, its ruthless ambitions and jealousies, its stylish bravura, its corrupt politics, its satiric humour and its finer feelings. The novel moves among a rich cast of characters, ranging from the life of the streets and the"nymphs" of Drury Lane to the conspiratorial world of Queen Anne's Court. At its heart is the Bay-Tree Chocolate House, Covent Garden, where Widow Trotter presides as she does over the novel itself with good humour, fierce integrity, and resolute determination.