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The Aviary Gate

New or Used: 5 copies from $9.95
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Promotional Information

For fans of Labyrinth, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Wilbur Smith and Philippa Gregory and now including a reading group guide.Daughters of Britannia sold 190,000 copies and Courtesans sold 87,000 in the UK alone.To be backed with a major marketing and publicity campaign for the paperback publication.

About the Author

Katie Hickman is the author of five previous books, including two bestselling history books, Courtesans and Daughters of Britannia. She has written two travel books: Travels with a Circus, which was shortlisted for the 1993 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, and Dreams of the Peaceful Dragon. She is the author of one previous novel, The Quetzal Summer, for which she was listed for the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year award. Katie Hickman lives in London with her two children and her husband, the philosopher A.C.Grayling.


In 16th-century Constantinople, the Aviary Gate separated the harem of Topkapi from the palace courtyard, where a large and marvelous clockwork was placed by English diplomats as their gift to the Ottoman sultan. This historical event of 1599 provides background for the bittersweet romance between a captured English woman hidden in the sultan's harem and an English merchant gentleman hopeful of winning trading favors in Turkey. An additional modern plotline follows academic scholar Elizabeth through Istanbul in her search for the fate of Celia Lamprey, who was thought to have drowned at sea. Languorous and filled with vivid, dreamlike images, Hickman's novel also features the dual plotting of modern and historical that is reminiscent of A.S. Byatt's Possession. Hickman, an English writer of several successful popular histories and travel books (Courtesans), realistically depicts the steamy atmosphere of harem politics, or "women's survival strategies," as the author remarks in her notes. The details regarding the sexual lives of the world's most famous kept women are explicit but delicately described. Recommended for all historical fiction collections.--Mary K. Bird-Guilliams, Wichita P.L., KS Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

'A hugely enjoyable novel, multi-layered, vividly depicted and a fascinating story, filled with the colours, sights and scents of Constantinople in the sixteenth century ... fast moving, complex and deeply satisfying' Joanne Harris 'Forbidden love, sailors and secrets - fasten your seat belts for Hickman's period tome ... Think Jane Austen meets Pirates of the Caribbean' In Style 'A magical, engrossing read that takes us inside a 16th century harem - and into a world populated by scheming, exotic characters ... this absorbing novel of intrigue and forbidden love manages to be both cerebral and entertaining' Glamour 'Lie back on your ottoman and relax. Katie Hickman will take you to a magical land, the Topkapi harem in Istanbul in Istanbul in 1599...There are luscious descriptions of costumes, of silk robes and mother-of-pearl twinsets, of ropes of jewels...this is a box of Turkish delight' Independent

Sixteenth-century sexual politics inside the Ottoman sultan's harem come to life as Hickman (Courtesans) takes her fascination with fallen women into the fictional realm with this historical novel featuring exotic locales and erotic situations. Linking past and present heroines, the story follows Oxford researcher Elizabeth Staveley as she uncovers the 400-year-old story of Celia Lamprey, a sea captain's daughter engaged to merchant-turned-diplomat Paul Pindar when she's lost in a shipwreck. Celia doesn't drown, of course. She becomes a concubine-in-training in Constantinople, where Paul serves as secretary to the British Embassy. When the embassy sends a gift to the sultan (a ship made of spun sugar), Paul finds out that Celia is alive and well. Meanwhile, the sultan's chief black eunuch has been poisoned and as his favorite concubine battles for supremacy with his mother, both women draw Celia into their intrigues. Despite all this, the book never transforms into a literary tour-de-force (like A.S. Byatt's Possession), partly because the author is trying to balance too many story lines. Hickman creates richly described imaginative moments, but like Celia's early encounters with the sultan, the excitement is never consummated. (June) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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