The Mulberry Empire
The breakthrough novel from Britain's most brilliant young critic: 'Prepare to be dazzled...The Mulberry Empire is executed with flair, confidence and great energy -- a really terrific read and one hell of an achievement.' Victoria Glendinning, Daily Telegraph 'We are in the 1830s and the Great Game, the elegant but deadly dance between Great Britain and Russia for power and influence in Asia, is under way. Alexander Burnes, a bright young thing with a taste for adventure, flies the flag for London, having bidden a sad farewell to his love, Bella Garraway. From St Petersburg comes the equally enigmatic Vitkevich. Both men are wooing the Amir Dost Mohammed, emperor of the Afghans, on their countries' behalf...The cast of characters is extensive, the grandiloquence of empire wonderfully evoked; The Mulberry Empire will be read with pleasure for years to come.' Justin Marozzi, Spectator
'There is pleasure here, in passion and in absurdity, in landscape and in conversation, in costume and in food. There is pleasure, above all, in writing. A delightful entertainment, a timely social and political commentary, and a highly literary and ambitious novel.' Ahdaf Soueif, Guardian 'Outstanding... Hensher reveals the significance of the small moment, of great figures seen in close-up, and of a subtle, sensuous intimacy with the fabric of these long-gone lives. The effect is exhilarating.' Helen Dunmore, The Times 'A huge, perhaps unique achievement... deeply human, gorgeous, glittering and never dull.' Murrough O'Brien, Independent on Sunday 'Exuberant, overflowing with life, highly-coloured, entrancing: a novel to lose yourself in... Nabokov said that the novelist must be storyteller, teacher, and enchanter. In this novel Hensher is triumphantly all three.' Allan Massie, Scotsman 'Loaded with exotic local detail, from London to Calcutta, St Petersburg to Kabul... Irresistible.' Daily Mail 'A remarkable achievement. I can pay Philip Hensher no higher compliment than to say his overview of the follies of "history" recalls War and Peace... The rich imagery and the vivid characterisation of a splendidly varied cast make The Mulberry Empire a truly tremendous read.' Mail on Sunday 'A triumph of style and research: a novel as brocaded, exuberant, colourful and violent as its subject matter.' LRB 'An exotic cautionary tale alive with topical relevance, ideal for lovers of superbly written historical fiction.' Sunday Express
Philip Hensher is Chief Literary Critic for the Spectator, and regularly reviews in the best UK and US newspapers and journals. His previous books include Kitchen Venom and The Bedroom of the Mister's Wife.