Elizabeth Knox

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Billie’s Kiss

With an Edwardian twist on The Tempest, and all the surprising, earthy and magical qualities of her bestseller The Vintner’s Luck, Knox’s equally irresistible new novel is set on the remote, divided Scottish island of Kissack and Skilling, one half of which looks historically and geographically towards Catholic Ireland, the other towards the Protestant north and Scandinavia.

In the spring of 1903 a ship explodes as it docks on the island, drowning many of the passengers and crew in the icy waters of Stolnsay harbour. Young, strawberry-blonde-haired Billie Paxton is among the only survivors. Clumsy, illiterate and suddenly alone, Billie will not say why, before the explosion, she jumped from ship to shore, and so falls under the immediate suspicion of her fellow passenger, Murdo Hesketh, and his cousin and employer, Lord Hallowhulme, who owns the island – and has controversial plans for improving the lives of its inhabitants.

Gloriously inventive and vividly atmospheric, Billie’s Kiss conjures up a way of life hurtling towards a brave new world, in an enchanting novel that combines a strange, sexy love story with an Edwardian mystery, bringing together murder and eugenics, progress, prejudice and the loss of innocence.


Shortlisted for the 2002 Montana NZ Book Awards

Praise for Billie’s Kiss

Lovely and evocative . . . Billie’s Kiss would make Charlotte Brontë weep with envy.’ The Seattle Times

Delicious. . . The book deftly evokes turn-of-the-century Scotland, a windswept world of shushing petticoats, knowing butlers, and fractured class rule. . . . Like the heroines of Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, Billie can be opaque, wistful, and fabulously layered, literally and metaphorically.’ San Francisco Chronicle

‘Billie is an appealing character: sensuous, impulsive, and a bit mysterious. Sex and romance are rendered strikingly and erotically.’ The Washington Post

Knox’s narrative style draws much from the 19th century romance, with its lush writing and darkly wild settings. Yet Knox brings her own slant to the genre, allowing some of her characters to find solid placement in their frighteningly changing world.’ Los Angeles Times

‘Complete, satisfying, and original, with just enough refinement and restraint to enhance the quality and feed the imagination, Billie’s Kiss is a dashing, delightful and absorbing read by a versatile, assured and surprising writer.’
Lindsay Botham, Dominion

‘Ultimately, the collected pieces of character and history, carefully crafted and finely detailed, come together in a finale that is absolutely right.’ Robin Vidimos, Denver Post

‘I read Billie’s Kiss twice, relishing the sheer skill, the lovely detail, language and atmosphere of a superbly told tale.’ Molly Anderson, Otago Daily Times



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