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How to write a historical novel

By Tom Chatfield  

It’s easy when you know how. Here’s the technique—as demonstrated by Louis de Bernières’s forthcoming novel, A Partisan’s Daughter (which is set in the London of the 1970s, in case you have any trouble working it out).

Chapter one sets the scene:

…it was during the Winter of Discontent. The streets were heaped high with rubbish, you couldn’t buy bread or the Sunday Times, and in Liverpool no one would bury the dead.

Chapter two clinches the culture:

The place was full of do-it-yourself revolutionaries, hippies, guys who played bass with imaginary bands, scarecrows, girls in ethnic skirts, amateur…

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