book cover of Widowland
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(The first book in the Widowland series)
A novel by

2023 Prometheus Award (nominee)
2022 Philip K Dick Award (nominee)

2023 Philip K. Dick Award Nominee

"A compulsive, terrifying read."—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code

For readers of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale comes a thrilling feminist dystopian novel set in an alternative history that terrifyingly imagines what a British alliance with Germany would look like if the Nazis had won WWII.

To control the past, they edited history. To control the future, they edited literature.

LONDON, 1953. Thirteen years have passed since England surrendered to the Nazis and formed a Grand Alliance with Germany. It was forced to adopt many of its oppressive ideologies, one of which was the strict classification of women into hierarchical groups based on the perceived value they brought to society.

Rose Ransom, a member of the privileged Geli class, remembers life from before the war but knows better than to let it show. She works for the Ministry of Culture, rewriting the classics of English literature to ensure there are no subversive thoughts that will give women any ideas.

Outbreaks of insurgency have been seen across the country with graffiti made up of seditious lines from forbidden works by women painted on public buildings. Suspicion has fallen on Widowland, the run-down slums where childless women over fifty have been banished. Rose is given the dangerous task of infiltrating Widowland to find the source of the rebellion before the Leader arrives in England for the Coronation ceremony of King Edward VIII and Queen Wallis.

Will Rose follow her instructions and uncover the criminals? Or will she fight for what she knows in her heart is right?

Praise for Widowland:

"A mind-bender of a novel about the power of literature to change minds. I loved it!" —Mark Sullivan, bestselling author of The Last Green Valley and Beneath a Scarlet Sky

"I rarely come across a book I can't put down but I devoured this one." —Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of two historical mystery series as well as several internationally bestselling historical novels

"An electrifying, Orwellian dystopia with a thrilling feminist twist." —Lara Prescott, New York Times bestselling author of The Secrets We Kept

"Tense, thought-provoking, and terrifying." —Natalie Jenner, international bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls

Genre: Science Fiction

Praise for this book

"A brilliantly convincing and gripping dystopian vision. Fantastically detailed and assured, I read it with huge admiration for having pulled off such a terrific novel." - Elizabeth Buchan

"Clever, gripping and brilliantly imagined - a brave, bookish heroine takes on the forces of a chillingly convincing post-war dystopia." - Clare Chambers

"Widowland is a triumph. One of the best counter-factual dystopias ever written about what a Nazi Britain might be like, it not only equals Fatherland and The Handmaid's Tale but, by placing literary heroines at its heart, supersedes them. As witty as it is withering, as thrilling as it is consummately imagined, this deserves to be the bestseller of 2021." - Amanda Craig

"I am in awe at the author's imagination, her ability to conjure and so cleverly convey an entire world - it manages to feel both chillingly dystopian and utterly realistic. I love the details of the office, and Rose's flat, and her bus rides, but most of all I loved the description of the Oxford Widowlands, and the women who inhabit it - Viva the Friedas!" - Sabine Durrant

"A terrifying, vividly imagined story of a Nazi Britain that might have been. Tense, utterly convincing and, in the end, very moving." - Nicci French

"All Jane Thynne fans should read her alter ego C J Carey whose Widowland is fabulous! A very stylish and exciting counterfactual set around the coronation of Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson. Hitler is still alive and in charge. Rose is a terrific heroine." - Adèle Geras

"Widowland is not just a page-turning thriller and masterful work of suspense. This book is also the most important feminist novel to be published in decades because it speaks as much about contemporary tyranny and misogyny as it does about the re-imagined past that Carey has so skilfully created." - Jane Harris

"Reading this terrific, Orwellian novel you almost hold your breath, so vivid is Carey's evocation of a dystopia which (you reflect) was surely just a hairsbreadth away. The engaging heroine, vivid scenario and enthralling plot are underpinned by a serious political sensibility - one which turns an accomplished thriller into a warning." - Bel Mooney

"Widowland is a very smart reimagined history executed with plenty of wit, energy and originality plus there's a rather subtle message for today. Excellent!" - Henry Porter

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