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Carol Birch Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Life in the Palace (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Fog Line (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Unmaking (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
Songs Of The West (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Little Sister (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Come Back Paddy Riley (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Turn Again Home (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Naming of Eliza Quinn (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
Scapegallows (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Jamrach's Menagerie (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Orphans of the Carnival (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cold Boy's Wood (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
Shadow Girls (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Carol Birch is an award-winning recording artist and storyteller who is known for her compelling blend of directness, energy, vulnerability, and warmth.

She published “Life in the Palace” her debut novel in 1988 and has since penned novels in different genres including historical, horror, and literary fiction works.
Birch is known for her style which revitalizes language while her stories provide keepsakes in memories.

Her works usually bring to life Americans who become legends such as Lou Gehrig in addition to renowned authors such as Ray Bradbury and John Steinbeck.

Over the years, Carol Birch has shared her work all over the globe including in Europe, Australia, and Singapore. She has also had media appearances in the likes of Nightline on ABC, the CBS Morning Show, and NPR.
She has also been a recipient of the NSN Oracle Circle of Excellence.

Birch’s parents met during the Second World War while they were working at a foundry. Carol was born in 1951 when the family was then living in Manchester.

At the time, her father was a jazz musician, and hence, music was a constant in the house, which explains its prevalence in her books.

Her eldest sister had a passion for education and she would go on to become a primary school teacher. It was her creative mind during their plays that would play a significant role in helping Carol Birch develop her later creativity in life.
In her childhood and teenage years, Birch used to scribble all manner of stories that she used to shove into a box that she then stored under her bed.

She read a lot during this time and her first literary loves were John Steinbeck, James Joyce, Bob Dylan, and Emily Bronte.

She would then attend Keele University where she took American studies and English, even though it would not be until she was thirty that she set her mind to writing properly.

It was in that year that she lost her father and two close friends and was hit by her mortality. She knew she had to start writing or keep playing around and probably never achieve her dream of becoming an author.

After she decided to spend less time at the pub and try to write, things started moving.

But what changed things for Carol Birch was moving to Western Ireland and leaving behind Margaret Thatcher’s Britain. Eighties London was hard as compared to the easy and free seventies.
After visiting some friends in Ireland, Carol and her husband realized that life there was cheaper and moved there where they lived for eight years.

Writing was hard at first but she stuck to it and after many rejections, she finally published her debut novel Life at the Palace in 1988.

The novel explored marginal lives in London’s grim flats where she used to live and she went on to win several awards. After achieving some success she had another slump of rejections until she was pulled out by Virago.
During the eighties, she published several works with the publisher and continued at the same pace during the 1990s and the 2000s.

Carol Birch’s “Jamrach’s Menagerie” is a powerful and thrilling novel about a young boy. The young boy is drawn to the sea by the promise of reward and adventure with echoes of “The Voyage of the Narwhal,” “Moby Dick,” and “Great Expectations.”
The lead in the novel is Jaffy Brown, a street urchin from the nineteenth century who has an incident with an escaped tiger. Following that incident, he finds a job with a famous importer of exotic animals Mr. Charles Jamrach.
He will be working with a spitefully competitive kid named Tim and over the following years, they will begin a close and long friendship filled with rivalry and ambiguity.

Mr Jamrach charges the boys with capturing a fabled dragon whole on a three-year whaling quest. Onboard, they enjoy learning the brutal art of hunting whales and form a rough brotherhood of sailors.

At some point, they catch a dragon, even if the whaling venture does not meet expectations. The crew starts regarding the dragon they caught as bad luck and those feelings are reinforced even further when the ship sinks in a violent storm.
While drifting across the wide ocean, Jaffy and Tim alongside other survivors try to reconcile with their place in the violent animal kingdom.
Wildly atmospheric, masterfully told, and thundering with tension it is a haunting novel with themes of survival, sacrifice, and friendship.

“Orphans of the Carnival” by Carol Birch is a thrilling work of history based on the life of Julia Pastrana.

She was a woman that was considered a great curiosity when she lived from 1834 to 1860. She was born in Culiacan Mexico and her mother abandoned her and left her to be adopted into Don Pedro’s home where she was a domestic servant.
Pastrana is quite a talented and smart woman who can speak three languages, plays guitar, dance and sing, and sometimes performs for Don Pedro’s guests.

It was while she was doing one of these performances that she was offered an opportunity to perform for some popular company in the US.

She sees this as an opportunity to see the world and be independent and is soon living in New Orleans as part of the freaks at the carnival
Julia is a small petite woman with a tiny waist, small feet, and hands, a large head that looks like that of an ape, massive teeth, dark shining eyes, and a voluptuous bosom.

While she looks bizarre inside she is a compassionate, generous, and warm sweet soul who is often wounded by the nasty comments and thoughtless looks. All she prays for is that she will one day come to find love and live a normal life.

Carol Birch’s “Scapegallows” is a work set in 1817 in New South Wales.

The lead is Margaret Catchpole, a woman who finds herself stranded as floodwater comes into the settler homestead where she is domiciled.

Like several times before, she is facing death and is looking back over her life. She has had a stormy and complex relationship with a hell-born babe named Will Laud that led her to a double life and the world of smuggling.
When Will is forced to leave the country, Margaret takes a job with the rich Cobbold family where she is a nursemaid. However, a crime against the family results in her being charged, found guilty, and sentenced to hang.
She does not hang but when her plan for escape goes awry, Will is shot dead and Margaret is captured.

She is taken back to prison and confronts death without fear until her sentence is transmuted to life and she is sent to Australia never to come back to the United Kingdom.
Ironically Margaret finds herself and her destiny when she is cast out by society which makes her into what she has become.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Carol Birch

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