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Lion Heart

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A contemporary tale of belief, identity, the nature of fiction and the power of romance, Lion Heart is Justin Cartwright's most inventive and powerful work to date

About the Author

Justin Cartwright's novels include the Booker-shortlisted In Every Face I Meet, the Whitbread Novel Award-winner Leading the Cheers, the acclaimed White Lightning, shortlisted for the 2002 Whitbread Novel Award, The Promise of Happiness, selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club and winner of the 2005 Hawthornden Prize, The Song Before It Is Sung, To Heaven By Water and, most recently, Other People's Money, winner of the Spears novel of the year. Justin Cartwright was born in South Africa and lives in London. @justincartwrig1


Glorious ... the magic trick of this extraordinary novel is that elusiveness is its appeal and its goal: like its protagonist, eccentric, funny and invincibly self-deprecating, it strenuously avoids the mainstream and picks its own meandering way towards truth ... Like William Boyd and James Hamilton-Paterson at their very best, Cartwright has the ability to elicit laughter and pity at once, while at the same time evoking a scene or atmosphere with effortless precision, from the disillusioned hedgefund managers and luxury apartments of modern London to the sinister hotel bars and decaying mansions of Jerusalem * Guardian *
Anybody who wonders whether novelists can keep up with an accelerating world should read Justin Cartwright ... Readers will relish the way that Cartwright embellishes the True Cross legend but they must solve Richie and Noor's mysteries for themselves. Unlike Dan Brown's potboilers, Lion Heart rewards careful reading and reveals parallels between its medieval and modern protagonist * Independent on Sunday *
The best of Cartwright's prose is as smoothly enjoyable as ever * Jonathan Barnes, Literary Review *
Lion Heart is part love story, part grail quest, part historical detective novel. It features a Le Carre-esque Oxford spy ... Cartwright carries the reader through all this with the energy of his writing; people and places become so real that even the most fantastic twists in the plot become believable * Financial Times *
Highly accomplished ... The lunacy of religion is undercut throughout, not only in the Middle East, but also in a nicely understated overlap with the irrationality of the hippie ethos of the 1960s, and there are a couple of self-effacing jokes about Dan Brown. Novels involving esoteric relics too often tend to be bilge; Cartwright should be congratulated on writing one that isn't * Sunday Times *
Compelling ... Lion Heart is a highly ambitious book, the tangled connections between past events and modern players plaited with sophistication and an effortlessly beguiling style ... A Romance in the bygone, broadest sense ... Even a less than perfect book by Cartwright is a pleasure, for the authority of his style, his intellectual mettle and his sentimental, courtly heart * Herald *
The range of this book is astonishing ... And its author's observations of modern life are razor sharp. If the idea of a highly complex, multi-layered story straddling continents and centuries appeals, then why not immerse yourself in Cartwright's world of medieval drama, espionage, romance and intrigue? * Daily Mail *
Vivid * Sunday Times *
The most successful strand is the hunt for the True Cross. The sense of the historical and the contemporary colliding is well handled here ... Cartwright is on solid ground and attains something of the "upmarket Da Vinci Code" that Richard claims at one point to be interested in writing * Observer *
Cartwright does a brilliant turn on aged roues, Europhobic lords and befuddled academics ... Cartwright has an epigrammatic turn of phrase and a beady eye for the currently fatuous ... The appeal of Richard the Lionheart for a novelist of English manners is clear; the modern parallels to be drawn concerning religious zealotry and belligerence, nationhood and England's place in Europe, English masculinity and chivalry are bountiful. It is a fine conceit * Daily Telegraph *
I like reviewing Cartwright because I can truthfully say "an intellectual tour de force" ... This is a fabulous broth of legend, romance, sharp comment and beautiful writing * Saga *
As smart and fluent as we expect from Cartwright, and more affecting than its scepticism about our knowledge and convictions would suggest, Lion Heart deciphers with a shrewd eye the nagging riddles of history - and of the human heart * Independent *
Beguiling ... There are many times, reading Cartwright, that the reader laughs in recognition at an observation; at something they have intuited, but never heard expressed. And that, Cartwright says, is the difference between a genre novel and literary fiction * Irish Examiner *
Justin Cartwright has produced another fascinating and compelling novel. His descriptions of place are masterful ... His varied characters are interesting, real and recognisable. If you like Mr Cartwright's writing, you will not be disappointed, and if you haven't tried him before, I urge you to do so * Country Life *
Ambitious ... Cartwright's sharp observation, waspish wit and evocative expertise come into their own * Peter Kemp, Sunday Times Books of the Year *
Expert mastery of form * Tim Martin, Daily Telegraph Books of the Year *
A madcap revision of Richard Coeur de Lion * Viv Groskop, Observer Book of the Year *

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