Thistle Publishing


13 Feb 2018: Theo Aronson in Vanity Fair

Theo Aronson’s timeless biography of Princess Margaret has been serialised in Vanity Fair.

The Crown: 13 Real-Life Princess Margaret Stories That’ll Make You Love Her More

13 Feb 2018: Chloe Banks wins short story prize

Chloe Banks won third prize in the Flash500 short story competition.


13 February 2018: Some recent reviews for Thistle titles

Beau Blackstone

“Invested interests in the canal industry threatened the new railway engines. George Stephenson brings in the Bow Street Runners and therefore Blackstone to find the conspirators and stop the plots against him, and the railway between Stockton and Darlington. An enjoyable thriller/mystery with the interesting character of Blackstone.”

Susan Meikle (Reviewer)

Blackstone and the Scourge of Europe

“It's now 1820 and George IV sends Blackstone to St Helena to investigate the security of the island and to determine whether Napolean could escape. An enjoyable thriller. Another good read in the series.”

Susan Meikle (Reviewer)

“Great romp... an early kind of James Bond. Really fun.”

Leslie Gardner (Reviewer)

Blackstone Underground

“Blackstone while trying to decide how to orchestrate the escape of a young lad from Newgate before he is hung, is being taunted by 'The Diddiki' that they can break into the vaults of the Bank of England at a prearranged time and the Bow Street Runners cannot stop them. An enjoyable well-written thriller.”

Susan Meikle (Reviewer)

Five Days that Shocked the World

“This is a deftly written, immensely entertaining account of the last five days of WWII. The personal narratives are what makes this book amazing, and interesting to any fan of first account tellings of major events.”

Janet ‘s Books Corner

F Is for France

“F is also for fascinating! This little gem of a book… The author has a lively style and you quickly become thoroughly engrossed in what she’s saying. It’s a book you can dip in and out of, but it’s very hard to put it down once you pick it up.”

Books Are Cool

Royal Family

“Well written and well researched, and it was interesting to see Aronson’s point that the royal family has become a “family firm” by the time of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles.”

Emily Ross (Reviewer)

“An enjoyable read that situates the generations from Edward VII on in relation to one another very effectively. The book is also good at tying changes in the House of Windsor's relationship to the British people to changes in history and in the zeitgeist of the nation.”

Cynthia Haller (Educator)

Seven Days of Infamy

“Seven Days of Infamy takes the reader through the three days before December 7, 1941 and beyond. The author, Nicholas Best has painstakingly researched Seven Days of Infamy. For anyone interested in World War Two, I recommend this book.”

Winding Words

The Sherlock Effect

“The Sherlock Effect is a fun, quick read, with a nod to Doyle but without attempting to be an imitation of his work. Well worth a read!”

Joanne Jeal (Reviewer)

“Cleverly written… This is an enjoyable read with a good concept.”

Julie Hosford (Reviewer)

“The book is a page turner.”

Gifta Alvina (Reviewer)

“I would recommend this as a contemporary twist on a good old classic.”

Claire Ogden (Reviewer)

“The Sherlock Effect return is just elementary…”

Bury Free Press

“A great modern take on Sherlock Holmes.”

Touch My Spine

“Set in modern times, but with a nod to the past, I really enjoyed it.”

Leyla Johnson (Reviewer)

To the Edge of the Sky

“I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in China around 1940s-1990s. I learned a lot and came away with a better understanding of what China was like, both during and after the Chinese Revolution and Cultural Revolution.”


“A poignant and powerful story, this is definitely not a book you can read lightly. Vivid descriptions… An eye-opening look inside China.”

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Reviewer)

5 Feb 2018: Death of author Patrick Delaforce

It is with regret we announce the death of author Patrick Delaforce.

Patrick served as a troop leader in Normandy, was with the first battle group into Bergen- Belsen concentration camp in April 1945, was twice mentioned in despatches, and was awarded the Bronze Cross of Orange-Nassau.

In autumn 1945 he served on a War Crimes Tribunal in Hamburg and tried many concentration camp guards and was an official British Army of the Rhine witness when Mr Albert Pierrepoint, the British hangman, executed 13 convicted war criminals in Hameln on 13 December 1945.

After leaving the army, he worked as a port wine shipper and ran an advertising agency in New York, before becoming a professional writer, mainly on historical and military subjects.

30 January 2018 - A selection of recent reviews:

Dieppe 1942

“A worthy addition to the short list of books available on the Dieppe Raid.”

Manchester Military History Society

F is for France

“A fun and interesting read.”

S Shaikh - Reviewer

“An ideal book for the lovers of all things French or for those with a sense of curiosity.”

G Heard – Reviewer

Hollywood Hang Ten

“A very interesting mystery., that e xplores a time in history when individuals could be blacklisted for a multitude of beliefs.”

Margaret Holmes – Reviewer

“A fun read set in 1960s sunny southern California.”

Tamara Smith - Educator

“A definite page-turner.”

Stephanie Mesa - Reviewer

Queen Victoria and the Bonapartes

“Relying primarily on correspondence between the Queen, Empress, Emperor and other family members and officials – much of it previously unpublished, Aronson delivers another superbly readable and engaging history. Uniquely capturing the emotional, familial and personal relationships, it sets them within the larger context of the times and explores some of the wider public implications of these intimate exchanges.”


“While drawing on personal journals and letters and using quite a lot of quotations, the writing style is very light and easy to read. It reads almost like a novel and keeps you wanting to learn more.”

Camille’s Bookish Adventures

Royal Legacy

“A particularly good read about a subject that is less known about the Royal Family and the ways in which they ensure that the wealth they have accumulated stays with them.”

T B - Reviewer

The Sherlock Effect

“It’s fun to draw parallels with a Holmesian world, but I believe that this book does also stand on its own as a strong collection of mystery short stories.”

A Bookish Musician

“A fine Holmesian diversion.”

Joel Smith – Reviewer

“The stories are terrific, a bit quirky as you would expect from the Holmesian style, and each builds on the other with regard to the character and relationship of Christopher and Mo. Delightful and well written.”

Love Books

“Very entertaining, recommended for fans and non fans of Sherlock Holmes. This book did not disappoint.”

Lee Mariott-Dowding – Reviewer

To the Edge of the Sky

“An incredible story. I am praying that this means a follow up book is planned. Please, Anhua?”

Kate Southey - Reviewer

The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle

“One of the strengths of this story is how it requires the reader to think about how we treat those who are disadvantaged and homeless, how we expect them to observe rules which suit us without being flexible in trying to meet their needs.  How far can a person be pushed before they transcend the usual accepted limits?  Is Willem’s behaviour understandable?  Is it possible to read this story without feeling some sympathy for Willem and some empathy for the situation he finds himself in? Five stars.”

Jennifer Cameron-Smith - Reviewer

9 January 2018: Unravelled film short-listed for a BAFTA

Kingdom of Us, Lucy Cohen’s documentary about the Shanks family based on VIkie Shanks’s memoir Unravelled has been short-listed for a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer. The awards ceremony will take place on February 18th.

9 January 2018: Some recent reviews for Thistle titles


“This was a constant race to the finish with airplanes, artillery, and armor battling in full force with more passion and courage than I’ve ever read. Alamein is a portrait of bravery.”

The Bibliomaniac

F is for France

“A fun and fact filled A-Z of Francophilian Frolics! Well researched and well written.”

Ruth Giles - Reviewer


“This engaging and well-written book is a happy combination of literary criticism and a study of Defoe’s novel Moll Flanders, a fictional biography of Moll herself, a biography of Defoe and a well-researched work of social history. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it wholeheartedly.”

Mandy Jenkinson - Reviewer

The Sherlock Effect

“So easy to read and so satisfying.”

Daphne Sharpe – Educator

“A clever, original, and wildly clever take on Holmes that manages to breathe new life into the classic.”

Christopher Havens – Educator

“A great and entertaining book for fans of Sherlock Holmes.”

Jennifer Muller - Reviewer

“The Sherlock Effect is a homage to Conan Doyle that he would be proud to acknowledge. Five stars.”

Stephenie Sasse - Reviewer

“I absolutely loved this book. A perfect book for Sherlock fans and people who love a cozy mystery.”

On The Shelf

The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle

“Will keep you engrossed at every turn… This gut-wrenching novel… This book is a must-read for everyone.”

Underrated Reads

19 December 2017: Helen Fry on 'David Jason’s Secret Service'

Don’t miss author and historian Helen Fry on ‘David Jason’s Secret Service’ tonight at 9pm on More4, talking about her extraordinary book Spymaster.

19 December 2017: A selection of recent reviews:

F is for France

”Perfect for the Francophile and those who love trivia.”

Bookworm Review Blog

“F is for France is a wonderful encyclopedia full of French historical and cultural trivia. The proper way to prepare Absinthe, rules for serving wine, the most popular main dishes, and of course, French etiquette are all in there. You’ll even find recipes. The perfect gift for family, friends or any Francophile in your life.”

Underrated Reads

Fallen Eagle

“A very detailed book about the movement of troops on the Eastern and Western fronts, and the decline of the third Reich. This is a great book for someone that is writing a thesis.”

Pamela King - Librarian

First into Action

“This was an enjoyable, informative and delightful read. I picked it up in the morning and had finished it by nightfall. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in military history or any kind of book involving the deeds of special forces.”

Stephen Bentley - Reviewer

Queen Victoria and the Bonapartes

“I very much enjoyed the elegant narrative, which managed to take me back in time to a rather eventful era. The friendship between Queen Victoria and Empress Eugenie was quite captivating, to say the least. An incredibly informative read.”

Bookishly Ever After

Royal Family

“Learning the history of the Royals can be a daunting task and many writers make it all the more so with their dry styles. Not so with Theo Aronson.. His style is witty and engaging making the lesson enjoyable.”

Brenda Kerwin - Librarian

The Sherlock Effect

“If you are into Sherlock Holmes and are looking for more cases, then this book is a must read.”

Book Mitra

To the Edge of the Sky

“I have read many books about this time in China's history.  This is one of the best.  I would recommend this to anyone who has read, loved and been inspired by the classic Wild Swans.”

Ann Applin - Reviewer

The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J Gyle

“This is a brilliantly compelling read: the author’s stark but totally gripping style, the twists and turns of the story, the layering of the protagonist’s character and the many other characters that people this book and the multiplicity of themes, all make The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J Gyle a novel that stands out…unrivalled in my opinion, especially as it is a debut novel. But it also hits home… hard. This is a harsh indictment of our times, of our country, of our humanity.”

Judith Barrow

15 December 2017: Gavin Evans gives TED talk on Feminism, Fatherhood and the Nurturing Instinct

Gavin Evans, the author of Mapreaders and Multitaskers: Men, Women, Nature Nurture, has given a fascinating TED talk on the topic of Feminism, Fatherhood and the Nurturing Instinct. You can watch it here.

14 December 2017: Vikie Shanks on Woman's Hour

Vikie Shanks was on Woman’s Hour this week, discussing her book Unravelled, and the resulting Netflix film Kingdom of Us. You can listen again here (interview starts at 18.36).

13 December 2017: Award nomination for James Dixon

James Dixon’s extraordinary debut novel The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle has been nominated for the Rosie’s Book Awards 2017. You can vote here (and please do).

6 December 2017: Some recent reviews for Thistle books:

Crowns in Conflict

“A well written look at European monarchies. Five stars.”

Jessica Nipper - Reviewer

F is for France

“While not a travel guide per say, this is a fun look at all things French, in alphabetical order. And readers can expect more than just the usual bakeries, cafes and museums. Look out for crypts, UFO landing sites and wild kangaroos. A great gift for the Francophile on your list”

For the Love of Books

Hollywood Hang Ten

“An interesting 1960s Hollywood-set mystery. Ryan is running his uncle’s PI firm while he’s in hospital, and although he’s been his uncle’s apprentice (of sorts) for a while, he soon realises that there’s a big difference between helping with cases and solving them yourself. I raced through the book to find out how it was going to resolve itself.”

Verity Wilde - media


“I highly recommend Moll. As an historian, I was shocked at the amount of knowledge I gained through this very readable and often entertaining book. In addition, it had me heading back to the original novel to refresh my memory about Dafoe’s Moll which always is good.”

Mackey Stanley – Reviewer

Princess Margaret

“In reality for Princess Margaret being royal, living in a palace, being a Princess was often a nightmare. She handled this role as well as she could with the undeniable ability to be her own person with not a care as to who liked it or not. In the end Margaret paved the way for divorce in the royal family and some think that was her legacy.”

Marialyce Weinreich - reviewer

Queen Victoria and the Bonapartes

“An eminently readable style, striking just the right balance between being a dry history, and an over-friendly, too-intimate account. The reader feels one gets to know the Queen and the Empress far better than the more usual history books, in large part through their own words and those of other contemporary witnesses.”

DR Pike - Reviewer

Royal Family

“Very well written, lots of interesting information.”

Janet Perry – reviewer

Secret Agent

“An excellent read. Secret Agent combines all the excitement of a Spy novel with the truth of a well-researched documentary.”

Kevin Montgomery - Educator

The Saint Jude Rules

“Thrilling. This book keeps you on the edge of your seat.”

Amy’s Bookshelf

The Serpent’s Tail

“A classic of our times.”

Stephen Bentley – Reviewer

To the Edge of the Sky

“A well written, vivid account.”

Brigitt Amthor - Educator

“This is an exhilarating read. It’s emotive, it’s beautiful and it’s shocking, but Anhua’s serenity and strength shine through. A must read.”

Tracy Shephard - reviewer

“A real eye-opener on what life was like in China.”

Jacqui Sinclair - Reviewer

“There are highs and lows, tears and laughter in this beautifully descriptive book. To find out what really happened in China in the 20th Century and how it affected Anhua is incredible. A really touching read.”

Echoes in an Empty Room

“A remarkable human story, written from the heart.”

Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans.

“A fascinating and moving memoir of life in twentieth-century China. Anhua Gao brings one family’s experiences to life with her vivid descriptions of personal and historical events. Thoroughly recommended reading.”

Nicky Harman, literary translator.

“Thanks to the author for revealing one of the darkest periods in Chinese history with her personal experience and elaborate writing. As an old man who has gone through the notorious Cultural Revolution, her story is by no means unfamiliar to me. I strongly recommend this book to the younger generations. Anhua’s touching story will keep warning us the tragic consequences of tyrannical rule, and constantly remind us that we should do our utmost to prevent our children from suffering what young Anhua had suffered.”

Gao Chao, professor of Nanjing University, China

“Despite her hard work, good marks in school and loyalty to China, Anhua Gao finally falls prey to the persecution.  She watches many family members and friends betrayed first.  One injustice piled on another, she is all the more determined to use her English skills and get to Britain at any cost.  Hers is not simply an escape story;  this is also the tale of finding friendship and dedication, solidarity and hope that can’t be destroyed no matter the political circumstances.”

Midwest Book Review

Under a Croatian Sun

“A beautiful story that simply needs to be read.”

Tracy Shephard - Reviewer

The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle

“If you have a taste for gritty, unrelenting realism, this twenty-first-century allegory is well worth your time.”

Book Jotter

29 November 2017: Author Helen Fry on More4

Author and historian Helen Fry wi a contributor to David Jason’s Secret Service, starting on December 5th, 9pm on More4. Helen is set to feature in episodes 1 and 3.

14 November 2017: Huge interest in Royal Legacy following Paradise Papers release

David McClure’s book on the royal finances, Royal Legacy, has been generating huge interest following the Paradise Papers revelations about the offshore investments of the Queen and other royals. David McClure has contributed to numerous pieces, including the following:

Daily Mail

The Guardian

CBC News

Daily Mail

BBC News

Diarrio de Navarra

BBC Panorama (video)

10 November 2017: The Art of Letting Go returns to the Amazon top 100 bestsellers

Chloe Banks’ extraordinary debut novel The Art of Letting Go has once again entered the Amazon top 100 bestseller list.

9 November 2017: A selection of recent reviews:

999 CSI

“A page-turner from start to finish... Highly recommended.”

Georgina Phillips – Reviewer

Animal Spy

“If you are unaware, if you are against animal cruelty, if you are an activist for those with no voice you need to read this book. An excellent book for all activists and animal lovers.”

Lori Reed - Reviewer


“Well written and the action rolls along, building to the inevitable climax.”

Melisende’s Library


“Intriguing and interesting. The entire setting in Roman Britain is definitely well explored.”

Dawning Moon – Reviewer

The Dancing Sun

“Desmond Seward’s delightful account… Whether you believe him is frankly irrelevant to the pleasure his book will give.”

Weekend Telegraph


“Decline is a beautiful tale and perfectly penned.”

Tracy Shephard - Reviewer

Down Among the Dead Men

“An amazing tale… you just know you're in for a spectacular read.”

Tracy Shephard - Reviewer

First into Action

“What comes over in this modest, but well-written account is the sheer fitness and can-do attitude of the marines. This does not disappoint.”

Sheelagh Birks - Reviewer


“Overall, this is an excellent evocation of Shakespeare's London that goes far beyond the walls of his most famous theatre.”

Kate Baty - Educator

“This book was everything I wished it to be. Informative but not dry, funny and captivating but not trivial. After reading it you'll not only know more about Shakespeare and his Globe but also about his colleagues and London.”

Sophie Freinhofer - Bookseller

“I loved it… this is a really good book.”

Rianna Blokzijl – Reviewer

Hollywood Hang Ten

“Ryan Zorn wants to be a PI, It is 1963 and a divorced mom hires him to find her son who has gone missing. This high octane read would make a great movie.”

Tracy Shephard - Reviewer


“While the popular view of Moll is a strumpet, Rees views her more as an independent woman relying on her wits in a society that despite its professed Christianity is remarkably cruel. Five stars.”

Stephen Rees

“An incredibly interesting book… gives a lot of context of the time.”

Georgia Grantham - Media

My Life with Leopards

“I very much enjoyed this book. Being let into Graham's world was an amazing experience. I loved the raw power of it.”

Angela Campbell - Reviewer

Open Skies, Closed Minds

“A civil servant who entered his new post with an open mind, unlike many of his predecessors. Nick Pope made it easier for people to feel it was ok to speak about these things and he also helped to open the subject of the many mysteries of our planet.”

Pat Wardle - Reviewer

Royal Legacy

“Such an interesting insight into a particularly secretive part of the British Royal family.”

Georgia Grantham

The Hickory Stick

“A very interesting fictional account of a police constable in the early days of Queen Victoria. A true coming of age story.”

Deanne Patterson - Reviewer

Hitler’s Traitors

“It precisely carries the intensity of an era dominated by Germany. ‘Hitler’s Traitors’ teaches early-mid 20th Century European history in a way youth can hear and understand. What Ottaway has done is create an in-depth overview of this period in modern history. It’s readable and it digs deep enough. Ottaway successfully illustrates what life was like and what life could be like, should we fail to remember and act on what this history teaches us.”

Gratia Veritas Lumen

The Man Who Would Be Jack

“A volume that surely every Ripperologist should have on his shelf.”

Red Jack reviews

“Reads like a novel… Great book, excellent research, a credible suspect that we haven't heard much about and perfect end-notes and incredible documentation.”

Lives and Loves of a Book Nerd

The Old Boys Network

“His diary, covering well over a decade of his tenure as the headmaster of one of Britain's oldest and most elitist public (private) schools, tells the reader much about the English class system. For anyone wanting to understand how English upper class privilege was shaped and how it began its descent into irrelevance, this book will be an excellent introduction.”

Abraham Peck - Reviewer

The Serpent’s Tail

“A couple of Catholic Belfastian teens, Stephen Kirkpatrick and Michael McDonnell, are caught between England's MI5, the SAS and the IRA as they seek a safe way into adulthood in 1970s’ Ireland. This is an excellent read, fast and peopled with folks you recognize instantly. I recommend it highly.”

Bonnye Reed Fry – Reviewer

To the Edge of the Sky

“The book is an excellent account of life during and before the reign of Mao Tse-Tung. Her story of the brutality, inhumane treatment, poverty, and countless and unnecessary death by a ruling monster is shocking and horrifying, while her accounts of the strength of the Chinese people and the hunger, hardships, and horrible life they live, but somehow survive is daunting. To the Edge of the Sky is a beautiful book and should be read by everyone interested in Chinese history and culture.”

Jill Dobbe - Reviewer

Under a Croatian Sun

“I love these expat books about moving abroad and living in a foreign country! Under the Tuscan Sun comes to mind.”

Catherine Hankins - Reviewer

The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle

“What a find. This book is seriously good. I mean, seriously. I'd recommend it to anyone, whatever your usual genres of choice. J D Dixon has a real gift, the innate sort that cannot be learned from classes. The book is raw, rough in places, and sometimes shocking. It's also immensely sad. It's just - great. One of the best debut novels I've ever read.”

Terry Tyler reviews

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