The House at Bishopsgate

The House at Bishopsgate

Most men of stature wouldn't marry their betrothed after she'd been kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery in the harem of the Great Turk, but Paul Pindar, wealthy merchant and former ambassador to Constantinople, is not most men. When Paul and Celia, finally reunited, return to London in 1611, his house at Bishopsgate has stood empty for nearly a decade. A phalanx of...

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Title:The House at Bishopsgate
Author:Katie Hickman
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The House at Bishopsgate Reviews

  • Jeannie Zelos

    The House at Bishopsgate, Katie Hickman

    Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

    Genre:Literature and fiction, Historical.

    When I started reading this I hadn’t realised it was the third book in a trilogy, and in fact I’d read and really enjoyedthe first, The Aviary Gate, several years back.

    At that time I was going through a historical phase, reading books like those by Norah Lofts, set back in time, describing the minutiae of everyday life, from a very personal viewpoint. I didn’t realise back then

    The House at Bishopsgate, Katie Hickman

    Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

    Genre: Literature and fiction, Historical.

    When I started reading this I hadn’t realised it was the third book in a trilogy, and in fact I’d read and really enjoyed the first, The Aviary Gate, several years back.

    At that time I was going through a historical phase, reading books like those by Norah Lofts, set back in time, describing the minutiae of everyday life, from a very personal viewpoint. I didn’t realise back then that there were to be sequels to TAG, and I do recall being very disappointed with the unsatisfying, ambiguous ending.

    Of course now all three books are out it makes sense ;-) but its been a long time between books, I think it was around late 2009/early 2010 when I read the first one, the pre kindle days....

    I’d like to read the second book sometime, there are so many things that happened there that affect this book, and though I could follow the story without having read it, parts would probably have made more sense, be better understood.

    It took me a while to get into it, its got a very slow start, in fact it begins with the ending, some 30 years on, and I almost gave up as it seemed so staid, dull and dreary.

    Still, with memories of the Aviary Gate I continued, and soon became lost in the magic of the writing. I felt back in time there with the story, as if it was happening right now and I was a voyeur to it, and I enjoyed both the characters and the story.

    I had a soft spot for John Carew in TAG, and enjoyed the parts where he was connected to this part of the story, and of course the way Annetta and he “heard “ each others voices, a real love story there but so incredibly sad for both.

    They’d both had such a hard life so far,  and I so wanted them to finally find the happiness they deserved.

    There was something about him that came out at the end which surprised me, maybe if I’d read book two I’d have seen that but it made sense once I knew it.

    Celia too hears Annetta’s voice in her head. They have a very special relationship, from life back in the Harem, and of course their final risky escape.

    I love Celia, and admired her love for her husband Paul. They too had been through so much, finally being reunited and yet still vastly apart in so many ways.

    On the surface they have everything, they’d promised themselves life would be perfect back in England, but now they are there, with a massive house, full of treasures Paul collected, no money, every luxury possible yet somehow they still are apart.

    Celia starts to shrink in on herself, as her place in the house has been cleverly usurped by widowed traveller Frances Sydenham, who they helped travel to England, and who seems to have become a permanent fixture in their home.

    Under the guise of “helping” her friend Celia she takes over the household tasks, and poor Celia becomes further and further away from Paul and the happiness they promised themselves. I so felt for them both, Celia wanted to be a wife in every sense, but was lost back in England, felt so out of place, everything so different after her years in the harem, and Frances is so clever in her manipulations pushing her further away from Paul and her place as Mistress of the home.

    Paul still seems to think Celia is healing, seems almost scared of her at times, as if she’s some fragile little bird, and he just doesn’t see her as she is now, as the strong person she’s had to be to overcome everything she’s been through.

    He too doesn’t notice how Frances displaces Celia, thinking she’s become a friend to her, a trusted support.

    Her ultimate target was clear to me after not too long but both Paul and for a while Celia were oblivious. When she starts to make a move, slowly and cautiously so anything could be taken as innocent I wanted to shake him, make him see how dangerous she was. I do love a character like that in a story though, keeps things interesting, makes the story ultimately very unpredictable in which was it will go.

    Then there’s Paul’s awful brother Ralph, a greedy grasping boy grown into a selfish, power crazed man. He really was a horrible character, there’s bits about his childhood bullying of John Carew here, but it did make me wonder if there was more in the second book, as I can’t recall much from book one. However as I said that was years back so might just be my recollection. Certainly I understood John’s need for revenge.

    When Annetta finally came into the story I breathed a sigh of relief. Surely she’d see through Frances, and stop her machinations? Well, she does but there’s only so much she can do, and its not without danger.

    The story weaves cleverly from the big house at Bishopsgate initially, onto events at Court, to the home Ralph and Paul grew up in, and gradually unfolds, laying trails for what is to come.

    It kept me guessing, wanting Frances out, wanting happiness together for Paul and Celia, and of course for John and Annetta. The four had been through so much, they really deserved that.

    Events seem to be conspiring against them though, and the people above all have important parts in how the story played out.

    I love Paul and Celia, and their enduring love, at a time when any whiff of scandal could have a lady ostracised and Paul with her. It would have been easy for him to just leave her abroad and make a life with someone “respectable”, but hearts and feelings prevailed and they’d been reunited. It remained to be seen whether they could get that happy ending though.

    Ultimately though I think my favourite characters were Annetta and John Carew – he’s always John Carew in the story. 

    I loved how he and Annetta shared imaginary thoughts, heard advice from each other and at times it was hard to tell if it really was in their heads or if it was real in some way. It certainly felt real, though maybe that was because they knew each other so well they could predict what the other would say, how they would react.  

    It’s clear how much they love each other still, after many years apart, even though he’s told she’s dead, and she is hoping he’s alive, but so far she and Paul have been unable to trace him.

    The events of the story take place over a few months, and were well paced even though the ending was bittersweet in a way.

    Its one of those stories that are slow reading, gently absorbed, where the real world drops away as you become enmeshed in their lives and events.

    I did find the first 20% really hard going though, too slow, even in a carefully and deliberately meandering tale. As I said I almost gave up, and that’s a shame because I really enjoyed the rest.

    I haven’t mentioned the jewel, the piece that plays such a large part of the description – its important to the story, but in fact I feel its a kind of hidden backbone, directing so much of the ultimate events, and yet very sparse in actual storyline.

    That worked well for me, enhanced the mystery of it, the rumours and stories about its power. 

     Stars: four, a fabulous read but so slow to start, and with the stories being so many years apart its hard to recollect exactly what happened in the past.

    ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

  • Camille

    I didn't realise until I was almost finished with the book that it is actually the third in the Aviary Gate trilogy. Nevertheless, I can be read independently from the others as I had no issues at all. Some events are alluded to more than explained in details. They are probably told in previous books, but to be honest I just thought it was the way the story is written and it didn't bother me at all. That being said, I want to read the other two books now as I want to know more about the

    I didn't realise until I was almost finished with the book that it is actually the third in the Aviary Gate trilogy. Nevertheless, I can be read independently from the others as I had no issues at all. Some events are alluded to more than explained in details. They are probably told in previous books, but to be honest I just thought it was the way the story is written and it didn't bother me at all. That being said, I want to read the other two books now as I want to know more about the characters, I got attached to them.

    Katie Hickman did a tremendous job at recreating 1611 London and Aleppo. The descriptions were so vivid it was like being there, without ever sounding like she was lecturing us about it. 1611 is not a date I often read about and I'm not over interested in this time period, however I got sucked in from the start.

    I'm usually not into multiple points of view in a story, but here it works to perfection for the story. Rather than jumping from one thing to the next as it happens in some books, it just flows and helps to build the story. The characters are all well developed with their own back stories, so that you feel invested in all of them.

    I can't believe I've had this book for over a year and hadn't read it until now! It's a little gem, historical fiction as I love it. I can't wait to read the other books and spend more time with Celia, Paul and the others.

  • Roman Clodia

    The further I got into this, the more important I thought it that you've read the first two books (

    ,

    ) - even though Celia's past history is recounted here, it feels a little cold in the telling and it's best to have experienced it.

    In this book, Hickman brings our protagonists back to England in 1611 where not just the ruling monarch but also many other things have changed. The arrival of Annetta harks back to the earlier books but we also meet a new character

    The further I got into this, the more important I thought it that you've read the first two books (

    ,

    ) - even though Celia's past history is recounted here, it feels a little cold in the telling and it's best to have experienced it.

    In this book, Hickman brings our protagonists back to England in 1611 where not just the ruling monarch but also many other things have changed. The arrival of Annetta harks back to the earlier books but we also meet a new character who is central to this one, to keep the mysteries of the past alive.

    Hickman is, as always, good on the background and there's a strong sense of the material presence of 1611 - however the foreground of the story is less enticing - and the two sequels have never quite lived up to the drama and interest of Aviary Gate. If you've met Celia and Paul Pindar before then this closes their story nicely, but if not I would recommend starting with Aviary Gate.

    Thanks to the publisher for an ARC via NetGalley

  • Fiona

    Thank you to Netgalley and to the publishers for a free copy in return for an honest review.

    Due to its lack of editing I found this book difficult to read. There were no paragraphs, sentences finished midway and jumped to the next line, and there was an inclusion of the digits 1 and 2 instead of either brackets, or sentences that ought to have been removed.

    However, as I got a preview copy, and the poor version was not the fault of the authors writing, I felt that I should persevere and finish

    Thank you to Netgalley and to the publishers for a free copy in return for an honest review.

    Due to its lack of editing I found this book difficult to read. There were no paragraphs, sentences finished midway and jumped to the next line, and there was an inclusion of the digits 1 and 2 instead of either brackets, or sentences that ought to have been removed.

    However, as I got a preview copy, and the poor version was not the fault of the authors writing, I felt that I should persevere and finish the book. Once I got used to the format I found I was actually enjoying this book.

    It’s the third in a series, which I didn’t know, and I am looking forward to downloading the first two. You can read this as a stand-alone book, but for me there were so many references to what happened before that it seems wrong no to go back and read them.

    The tale of intrigue, plotting and greed is set against two love stories. Plus there is an excellent twist at the end which I never saw coming, although I did wonder as there were clues.

    I would suggest reading the books in order and would definitely recommend.

  • Jenny Cooper

    This is a historical novel based in England in the early 1600s. Paul, a wealthy merchant and Celia, his wife, lived in the Orient for the first part of their married life but are moving back to London to live in “the house at Bishopsgate” which Paul has recently refurbished in preparation for their occupation. They are accompanied on their journey by a recently widowed merchant’s wife, Frances, a mysterious character who shows no inclination to part company with the couple when they arrive in

    This is a historical novel based in England in the early 1600s. Paul, a wealthy merchant and Celia, his wife, lived in the Orient for the first part of their married life but are moving back to London to live in “the house at Bishopsgate” which Paul has recently refurbished in preparation for their occupation. They are accompanied on their journey by a recently widowed merchant’s wife, Frances, a mysterious character who shows no inclination to part company with the couple when they arrive in London. All is clearly not what it seems as she inveigles her way into the household and makes herself invaluable to Celia, usurping her position of “lady of the house” as Celia struggles to come to terms with the cultural and social differences of her new environment. The plot thickens when you add into the mix Paul’s brother, a social climber and a thoroughly unpleasant character, their childhood companion John, who has gone AWOL and Celia’s friend Annetta, a very sensible ex-nun who appears on the scene in the nick of time.

    I found the book a little difficult to get into, but once I had got going I did enjoy it and the pace certainly picks up dramatically in the second half. However, although there is mystery, suspense and intrigue aplenty it didn’t quite hold my attention or grip me in the way it should have done. Parts of the book are quite long-winded and a bit boring. One thing that jarred with me was the way that a number of the characters heard voices in their heads, allegedly coming from loved ones. I know that thought processes are difficult to convey in written form, but surely there are better ways of doing it than this? Without going into any details, I also found the ending a little fanciful which was a bit of a disappointment.

    There are two other points that I think are relevant as they may have influenced my enjoyment (and therefore my rating) of the book. The first is that I was given a proof copy by the publishers and it really was a very poorly edited copy which didn’t make for easy reading. The second is that this book was the third part of a trilogy and I hadn’t read the other two. At no point did I feel that there was any information missing so, on that basis I felt that it worked perfectly well as a standalone novel. However, it is quite possible that I may have enjoyed it more if I had had more background knowledge about some of the characters and their situations.

    Overall I did enjoy the novel and it easily warrants three stars. I should perhaps add that it was heading for four stars until I came to the ending, so it’s certainly a reasonable read but I am not sure that I will be rushing out to buy the first two in the series.

  • Mary Johnson

    **I received this book through a Goodreads Giveaway**

    I have two thoughts regarding this book:

    1. Paul Pindar is an ass

    2. Paul Pindar is an ass

    For someone who is supposed to exude kindness, he was very unlikeable. Like, how do you not notice your wife has become a depressed freak show? How could you completely put down her anxieties (regardless of whether or not he believed them, he should've acted) until similar things happen to you? Then suddenly it's all okay? How could you mock a woman for

    **I received this book through a Goodreads Giveaway**

    I have two thoughts regarding this book:

    1. Paul Pindar is an ass

    2. Paul Pindar is an ass

    For someone who is supposed to exude kindness, he was very unlikeable. Like, how do you not notice your wife has become a depressed freak show? How could you completely put down her anxieties (regardless of whether or not he believed them, he should've acted) until similar things happen to you? Then suddenly it's all okay? How could you mock a woman for being physically and mentally abused? How could you call your wife a whore for trying to get your attention? How could you call another woman a whore when YOU'RE LITERALLY STANDING THERE CUTTING HER DRESS OFF?

    Urgh. Goddamn Paul Pindar.

    I wouldn't mind, except he's supposed to be a 'good' character.

    Okay. Now that rant is out of the way...

    I understand that this book is the third in a series, which might have been why the character development felt poor. Celia was a total Mary Sue (who is apparently also a non-aging vampire), but Annetta and Carew were intriguing. Even Frances, despite being an obvious antagonist, was interesting to read about and figure out.

    Another thing that did but me was the constant use of characters having other characters 'talk' to them inside their head. It was a constant thing throughout the book, and just felt like a lazy way of revealing info.

    This being said, there were still plenty of things I enjoyed. The world building was awesome, and there was a plot twist towards the end that totally had me. The writing was nice and clear, and the pace really picked up towards the end. I read the second half in a single sitting!

    So overall, a solid hist-fic read with a nice dose of the supernatural. I doubt I'll read the other books in the series, but it was enjoyable.

    Except Paul Pindar. Goddamn Paul Pindar.

  • Helen Bookwoods

    There are a lot of good elements here - a diamond with a curse on it, great historical detail of the house in London in the late 17th century, a heroine who has escaped a Sultan's harem, a mysterious and sinister woman interloping in the lives of our hero and heroine, Paul and Celia Pindar, a decaying estate in the country, a reprobate brother etc. but it just doesn't add up to anything. Promising plot lines are dropped to concentrate on the quite tedious (and never fully explained or

    There are a lot of good elements here - a diamond with a curse on it, great historical detail of the house in London in the late 17th century, a heroine who has escaped a Sultan's harem, a mysterious and sinister woman interloping in the lives of our hero and heroine, Paul and Celia Pindar, a decaying estate in the country, a reprobate brother etc. but it just doesn't add up to anything. Promising plot lines are dropped to concentrate on the quite tedious (and never fully explained or believable) problems between Paul and Celia. This is a mishmash of a book that just doesn't work. It is the third in a series starting with

    so perhaps you have to read them all to get the background, and perhaps the ones set in Syria and Turkey are more interesting (this one starts out in Aleppo and that part was nicely described).

  • Aubrey

    I found this pretty boring -- not a very interesting or surprising story line. There were also 5 plus grammar errors, which is distracting. Do not recommend.

  • Ian Brydon

    I really wanted to like this book, having been given it by a close friend, but it defeated me. Katie Hickman strove to generate a sultry atmosphere but I just found myself unable to buy into it, and the book simply became a chore. Perhaps it epitomises the idea that one should not judge a book by its cover – it is beautifully presented, with a lovely dust jacket and endpaper illustrations, but the style didn’t extend to the content, which I found unutterably tedious.

  • Tova

    I can't anymore. I'm bored and I really don't care. I'm not sorry.

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