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  • Published: 10 November 2020
  • ISBN: 9781784743314
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $43.99

Islands of Mercy

An audacious novel about destiny and desire from the incomparable Rose Tremain

'A hell of a read... more absorbing than most fiction I've read this year' Sunday Times

She was 'The Angel of the Baths', the one woman whose touch everybody yearned for. Yet she would do more. She was certain of that.

In the city of Bath, in the year 1865, an extraordinary young woman renowned for her nursing skills is convinced that some other destiny will one day show itself to her. But when she finds herself torn between a dangerous affair with a female lover and the promise of a conventional marriage to an apparently respectable doctor, her desires begin to lead her towards a future she had never imagined.

Islands of Mercy is a novel that ignites the senses, and is a bold exploration of the human urge to seek places of sanctuary in a pitiless world.

'One of our most accomplished novelists' Observer
'I loved it, and the images continue to haunt me months later. It offered me the perfect escape' The Lady, Books of the Year 2020

  • Published: 10 November 2020
  • ISBN: 9781784743314
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $43.99

About the author

Rose Tremain

Rose Tremain’s novels and short stories have been published in thirty countries and have won many awards, including the Orange Prize (The Road Home), the Dylan Thomas Award (The Colonel's Daughter and Other Stories), the Whitbread Novel of the Year (Music & Silence) and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Sacred Country). Her most recent novel, The Gustav Sonata, was a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller. It won the National Jewish Book Award in the US, the South Bank Sky Arts Award in the UK and was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award. Rose Tremain was made a CBE in 2007 and a Dame in 2020. She lives in Norfolk and London with the biographer, Richard Holmes.


Also by Rose Tremain

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Praise for Islands of Mercy

A moving exploration of love and the sacrifices we're willing to make in its name

Joanne Finney, Good Housekeeping

An exhilarating exploration of love, life, loss and death... A thrilling and seductive story... Vivid and beguiling

Rowan Mantell, Eastern Daily Press

Another gratifyingly well-put-together work... Tremain's long sentences brim with a poised positivity...[and] add lightness to her fond depictions of these imperfect strivers

Francesca Carington, Sunday Telegraph, *Novel of the Week*

A hell of a read - so emotionally sophisticated, so deft with shade and light, more absorbing than most fiction I've read this year

Johanna Thomas-Corr, Sunday Times


Louise Carpenter, The Times

A new book from Rose Tremain is always a cause for celebration. Her exceptionally well-crafted and deeply humane historical novels are invariably a joy and Islands of Mercy is no exception... A rich, rewarding and highly satisfying novel from one of our finest novelists.

Daunt Books

An enjoyable page-turner

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, The Times

Over a distinguished literary career, Rose Tremain has traversed genres with her customary flair... in her portrayal of the ways in which individual longing and frustration unfold against the constraints of forces beyond our control, Tremain has long been one of our most accomplished novelists, and here is further confirmation

Stephanie Merritt, The Observer

Rose Tremain gives Hilary Mantel a run for her money for the title of Britain's greatest living historical novelist... there are still few writers who can conjure up a version of the past that is so startlingly unfamiliar yet so convincing

Charlotte Heathcote, Sunday Express

Vivid, transgressive, explicit and kaleidoscopic

Rose Shepherd, Saga Magazine

Subtle, illuminating and captivating

Eithne Farry, Mail on Sunday

Triumphant, and beautifully told... [Tremain] is one of the best novelists writing today

Sara Collins, Guardian

A moving, gorgeously described book about human endeavour


[A] clever study of human dreams, desires and weakness

Rebecca Wallersteiner, Lady

I loved it, and the images continue to haunt me months later. It offered me the perfect escape

Rebecca Wallersteiner, Lady, *Books of the Year*

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