Food for Thought

Deborah Harkness and her Book of Life UK tour

Three years ago, my friend introduced me to the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness when the first book, A Discovery of Witches, was published in 2011.

Now, the third and final book in the trilogy, A Book of Life, was recently released and Deborah took this opportunity to travel for her Book of Life UK tour where friend, fellow blogger and book enthusiast Heather from YankeeDoodles and I went to Waterstone’s on the West End of Princes Street on Friday 12th to meet the author and Professor of History at UC Berkeley in the US in person and to chat about her latest (and last) All Souls book.

Meeting Deborah Harkness in person. Geek moment!

The trilogy begins with an ancient manuscript, Ashmole 782, that historian Diana Bishop attempts to recall at the University of Oxford Bodleian Library.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, £5.49 (Kindle) or £8.36 (paperback) from Amazon UK

When historian Diana Bishop opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library it represents an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordinary life. Though descended from a long line of witches, she is determined to remain untouched by her family’s legacy. She banishes the manuscript to the stacks, but Diana finds it impossible to hold the world of magic at bay any longer.

For witches are not the only otherworldly creatures living alongside humans. There are also creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires who become interested in the witch’s discovery. They believe that the manuscript contains important clues about the past and the future, and want to know how Diana Bishop has been able to get her hands on the elusive volume.

Synopsis, Deborah Harkness website

Without giving away any spoilers, a lot has happened since the first book and now the journey of our reluctant witch and her vampire husband, Matthew Clairmont, in the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages continues in the present after a trip into the past looking for answers in the second installment, Shadow of Night.

Our meeting with Deborah provided lots of insight into how the basis for the trilogy started (she had actually requested Ashmole 782 at the Bodleian Library at Oxford herself!), how sometimes parts of your own personality comes across in each of the fictional characters (like Deborah’s love of a good wine is portrayed through Matthew) and how Deborah just wants us to take away a sense of empathy for historical figures and how they based their decisions on what they thought made most sense to them at the time. We can’t change the past, but neither do we live in the past. We should give more thought to what life (and society) was like back then and how decisions were based at the time on what was prevalent thought to prominent figures in history.

When it came to getting my book signed, I was at a loss as to what message I wanted Deborah to write. Turns out I didn’t need to say much, her message said it all.

My signed copy of Book of Life

Nothing ever remains static, things change. One story ends, but another one begins. No one can ever be certain what’s going to happen next. You can affect your own destiny based on the decisions you make and the path you choose.

The Book of Life is now available for £5.69 (Kindle) or £9.00 (Hardback) from Amazon UK.


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