“Under Table Mountain by Nigel Patten is a lovely historical account of the close of the 19th century in South Africa. As the story opens, colonial Britain has an ongoing conflict with the two Boer republics. Through the tension and turmoil of Cape Town society we meet the Juta family. Henry Juta is a prominent barrister and as Speaker of the Cape House he entertains numerous celebrities and social figures in his home. As a result, his youngest daughter, Louise, begins to formulate her own way of viewing traditional British royalty and privilege.
The book is highly scholarly and very well researched. The character development is such that readers will find themselves identifying with various factions in the political arena. Each character’s motivation to carry through with his own values and moral judgments is clearly defined through historical decisions and personal turmoil. This is a wonderful study of colonial tradition versus the demands of the current society.” Karen P. for ReadersFavorite.com
“The Hounds of Samaria by Nigel Patten takes place in Crete during World War Two. George Ghikas has Greek ancestry, so the British army sends him behind enemy lines on occupied Crete with orders to organize partisan groups in the White Mountains. Before his posting, George had begun having strange dreams, almost hallucinations, about a dancing girl. These dreams continue upon his arrival in Crete. It appears that George was once the victim of a human sacrifice ceremony that took place in a restored Minoan temple located near his current base camp.
The girl who has been haunting his dreams was the officiating priestess during the ancient sacrificial ceremony … until the temple was destroyed by an earthquake. The past merges with the present until George almost commits suicide by reenacting the sacrificial ceremony from 3,600 years ago in the restored temple.
This book has an amazing sense of lyricism that draws the reader into a complex, yet finely woven plot. The author is a consummate wordsmith, whose eloquent and poetic descriptions paint a vivid picture for the reader, giving a sense of timelessness and a link to an ancient, bloody past. Given the nature of the plot, the author has included historical and mythological details to deepen the mystery surrounding George’s recurring dreams. In counterpoint to George’s experiences and discoveries as he delves into his obsession with Lamia, the dancing girl, are the experiences and impressions of Doctor Vassilis Iatros. The doctor became a monk when his wife was killed in a car accident. His obsession is to painstakingly restore the ancient Minoan temple on the island, the same temple featured in George’s dreams. Both George and the doctor become increasingly aware of the power of the subconscious mind and its ability to transcend time and space.
The author uses an interesting technique by deftly introducing back story and other necessary details in a series of poignant memories to bring the reader and the characters to the moment in time when literally all hell breaks loose on the island. This is a wonderful book with a compelling story, a real page-turner.” – Fiona I. for ReadersFavorite.com
Featured Book Review
Reviewed by Stephanie D. for Readers Favorite
The “Tide of Destiny” by Nigel Patten is as excellent an example of historical fiction as you are ever likely to get. Set in the Napoleonic era in southern Switzerland and then north-eastern Italy, it is the story of Damien André Berry, one of the many forgotten celebrities of their time who pass into oblivion. We meet Damien as a young man working with his father on his farm and having an affair with the Mayor’s daughter, Biquette. Life is good. But then along comes the French army in need of conscripts. Damien takes to the mountains to escape and over time works his way into Italy, meeting more delightful women and developing his story-writing talents. All this is against the background of a period dominated by “Little Crop Head”, Napoleon Bonaparte, and his various military campaigns, and rigid Catholicism.
This book is so easy to read. I don’t know about a tide of destiny, but you will certainly get swept along on the tide of Patten’s writing. He brings the period and the people vibrantly to life, Damien most of all. We see the harshness of so many lives at that time. The book includes two of Damien’s own stories, Alpine Genisis and Scenti, and it is fascinating to see how the inspiration for those so clearly came from his own life and experiences. They also show why he was such a controversial figure. “The Tide of Destiny” is the compelling account of a period in a talented, complicated writer’s life. If only Patten could give such treatment to all of history’s forgotten heroes and heroines!