The Bastard Boy

James Wilson

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‘An absolute masterclass in historical fiction writing.’ Joanne Limburg

What is the truth behind the mystery of the bastard boy?

Ned Gudgeon wakes to find himself in a cell. He has no idea where he is or how he came to be there, but – seeing pen and paper – he begins to write. What follows is Ned’s remarkable story, the story of his quest for his missing nephew, taking him from the corrupt and teeming slaving port of Bristol to the turmoil of the colonies on the brink of revolution. What is the truth behind the mystery of the bastard boy?

Critic Reviews

'In our cynical times it is wonderful to escape for a while. Wilson's epic ripping yarn does not disappoint in either quality or breadth ...a rip-roaring tale that journeys from Bristol to America and witnesses revolting colonies and the dark slave trade rampant at the time in this finely woven historical novel.'

Critic Reviews

'James Wilson's second novel begins in medias res with 'I write'. Having boldly asserted its biblical and epic pedigree, it plunges into a story of tumultuous action and heartfelt moral debate surrounding the endeavours of Ned Gudgeon, an English explorer, to find his bastard nephew, fathered in America during the Seven Years War ... (an) exhilaratingly ambitious novel.'

Times Literary Supplement
Critic Reviews

'Thanks to DNA, paternity in the 21st century is no longer the 'legal fiction' James Joyce once deemed it to be. But 200 years or so ago it was the dominant issue, thanks to a burgeoning middle-class that bound property and paternity together, and it gave writers like Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Mary Braddon some very juicy plots ... And James Wilson, whose fiction debut The Dark Clue, was a Collins-inspired 19th century mystery tale, has had just as much fun with it all in his second historical novel, set this time on the eve of the American revolution ... Ultimately, for all its derring-do and mystery scenarios, this intelligent, stimulating novel is about the serious issue of ownership - of an identity, of an inheritance, of a piece of property.'

Sunday Herald
Critic Reviews

'A powerfully imagined and gripping evocation of the violent world of revolutionary America and Georgian England. James Wilson has administered a massive blood transfusion to the historical novel. The Bastard Boy raises the form to a level not seen in English literature in this generation.'

Ian McIntyre
Critic Reviews

An absolute masterclass in historical fiction writing.

Joanne Limburg

James Wilson has written plays, TV documentaries (including the award-winning Savagery and the American Indian for the BBC) and a critically-acclaimed history of Native Americans, The Earth Shall Weep. His three previous novels were The Dark Clue, The Bastard Boy and, most recently, The Woman in the Picture, described by Kate Saunders in The Times as ‘a multi-layered, deeply absorbing…

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