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The Pursuit of William Abbey

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  436 ratings  ·  105 reviews
A hauntingly powerful novel about how the choices we make can stay with us forever, by the award-winning author of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and 84K.

South Africa in the 1880s. A young and naive English doctor by the name of William Abbey witnesses the lynching of a local boy by the white colonists. As the child dies, his mother curses William.

William begins
Paperback, 420 pages
Published November 12th 2019 by Orbit
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Donald One of the premises of the story is the ones you love will die. Not much in the sex department, and certainly no homosexuality because it has no…moreOne of the premises of the story is the ones you love will die. Not much in the sex department, and certainly no homosexuality because it has no bearing on the story.(less)

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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  436 ratings  ·  105 reviews

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Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019
Another good book from this very talented author. Not my personal favourite but still very good indeed. As happens a lot in her books the main character, William Abbey, is being pursued all around the world. His pursuer is the shade of a dead boy and the results if he gets caught are not good.

So, points to the author for the clever story and the way it makes the reader think hard about what is going on all the time. Points too for the amazing amount of research which must have gone into all the
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
4.5 stars

I was very excited to have the opportunity to review this title from the moment it appeared on my radar.

Like an endless sea, this remarkable work of fiction does not cease to ever end in scope and engagement as one reads through the 400+ pages. Hopes, dreads, dreams, and desires of a lifetime of every facete imaginable will be touched on in this journey of The Pursuit of William Abbey. Not a country in the world, not a shore unexplored, no historical events within its premise missed,
Aug 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2019
I requested an electronic advance copy of this book from NetGalley because the premise it's built on sounded fascinating, and I was delighted that the publisher approved my request. The premise here is that William Abbey, an Englishman who sees (and doesn't act in response to) a child killed by a white mob in Africa, is cursed by the child's mother. The shadow of her son will follow Abbey for the rest of his life, and any time the shadow catches up, the person Abbey loves most will die. In ...more
Nils | nilsreviewsit
3.5 stars

‘The Great War had been coming for such a long time. It was born in the hearts of our ruling men the day they were held up in the crib and told they were blessed with a greatness that others could not share. It was nurtured when they saw their greatness challenged, and sought some way to prove their strength. Now it eats us whole.’
The Pursuit of William Abbey is a powerful historical fiction and also part fantasy novel by the award winning author, Claire North. As I’ve never read any
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very well researched book which had a curse as the focal point. It all started with one and led to a merry chase.

William Abbey in Africa, did not save a child from the mob. The child died and the mother cursed him that the shadow of her child would pursue him throughout his life. If the shadow caught William, someone close to him would die. And William needed to be on the move in any mode of transportation. The shadow would come after him at a steady rate. And William in essence became the
Liz Barnsley
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review to follow for the tour.
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wishlist

“I know the truth of men’s hearts, and what I know is that they are right, every single one of them. They live within the power of their own rightness, and anyone who disagrees with them can only be wrong, and being wrong, they are therefore less. That is what I know, and it terrifies me.”

The Pursuit of William Abbey is the sixth stand-alone novel by award-winning British author, Claire North. Banished to South Africa by his wealthy father, Dr William Abbey is (poorly) practicing medicine is
The Tattooed Book Geek (Drew).
As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress...

In 1917, France, against the backdrop of the Great War. In a French hospital for wounded soldiers with cannon and gunfire reverberating outside and enemy forces closing in Dr William Abbey, over a few nights and with Langa, his shadow ever approaching and drawing nearer recounts his story to Sister Ellis.

Abbey’s story starts in South Africa, Natal, 1884, in a small and dusty
Robin Bonne
Dec 28, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Yikes on a bike. I don’t want to put the emotional labor into unpacking what is wrong with this narrative. The “magical negro” trope is a big no-no for white authors.
Christine Sandquist (eriophora)
This review and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks. Thank you to Orbit for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I’m convinced: it’s literally impossible for Claire North to write a bad book. I think she’s just genuinely incapable of anything less than excellence. When she writes a sentence, it just comes out good. Every single time. Of this I am certain. Alternatively, there’s the much more mundane and likely scenario: she’s very, very good at proofing, has a
Laura Jean
This is a phenomenal book. It has a strong philosophical bent. What is truth? What is the truth of a person's heart? Can one heart contain multiple conflicting "truths"? So powerful and thought provoking. I can't imagine the author choosing a better time to set this masterpiece. Set between 1884 and 1917, a time when people believed that science and reason could master all, but when magic and superstition were still strong in many cultures. A time when the British Empire covered 3/4 of the globe ...more
Nov 29, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5* recently when I've read a North book ive been a little underwhelmed. We have the great prose shes known for, a more linear plot style and a story very well researched ( historical fiction elements). I just didnt feel as engaged as I did with her previous stories.
Hiu Gregg
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Review to come!
Joanna Park
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating, gripping and thought provoking read. I always enjoy this author’s books as they are always very unique reads. The Pursuit Of William Abbey is no exception as it manages to be part historical, part science fiction but does this incredibly well so it’s never confusing.

The story intrigued me from the start with an interesting opening and I soon found myself drawn into the story. The writing is beautiful and very vivid with some fabulous descriptions of the places that
Lel Budge
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
William Abbey witness the killing of a young child by a mob of white men in South Africa, he did nothing to help.

The child’s mother, after seeing her sons last breath curses William, the child’s shadow will follow him for the rest of his life…..if it catches up to him, someone he loves will die.

William starts travelling to keep ahead of the shadow, he can also hear people’s inner truthful thoughts and has no choice but to then speak them out loud. He’s now a truth-teller and as a result various
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very different, upsettingly graphic at times to the atrocities against mankind...
Melanie’s reads
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In trying to read out of my comfort zone I’m saying yes to books that previously I wouldn’t have picked up. Historical fiction and fantasy being the two I really avoided. This book covers both and I’m so glad I made the decision to give it a try.

In the opening chapters set in Jardin du Pansee, just miles from the frontline in 1917, we meet Dr William Abbey at a French hospital as he recounts his story to Sister Ellis. The dead and dying all around this is a brutal introduction to the reality of
Susan Hampson
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The more I read this book and the more the cover became perfect for the story. The story began in 1884 and my skin crawled as arrogant white men showed no respect for the native South African people. They are seen as not human, having no feelings and being worthless, so when William Abbey, a young doctor, witnesses a Zulu boy being tied to a tree and set on fire he feels nothing for him.
When he is cut from the tree, unrecognisable his mother holds him while he still fights to breathe. When she
I'm a huge fan of Claire North's work - The Gameshouse is one of my very favourite reads of 2019, a masterpiece. With William Abbey we're given another intriguing, clever and original piece of speculative fiction, which is also extremely moving. It provides damning comment on the evils of empire and of a society in which one stands back, watches horrendous injustice committed and does nothing. This isn't my favourite of North's work - I found it a little repetitive and thought that it stalled on ...more
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The premise is simple, Doctor William Abbey stood back and let a horrific event occur, making himself complicit by his inaction. His penance? To be forever followed by a ghost who will kill someone Abbey loves if it catches up with him. There is more, however. Abbey is also cursed to know the truth of people’s hearts. Not that sanitized version of the truth that we portray to the outside world. The pure, undiluted truth that people often deny within themselves.

…mankind loves to be sure. To know.
John Rennie
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, but I think it is a book that will divide opinion and some people won't like it at all. So what I'm going to try to do here is help you decide whether to buy it by explaining why you may or may not like it.

This isn't a plot driven book. The story is rather slight and meandering and in the end nothing much happens. The point of the book is for Claire North to explore the inhumanity of humans to other humans and how we justify it to ourselves. In this respect it feels much
Pam Patterson
I think i've found my genre, at least my genre for now. Historical, magical realism and a great story about humans. The Pursuit of William Abbey is a good mystery and a good story. What fascinated me the most was the idea that being about read another person's "truth" doesn't exactly get you the "truth" but their version of it. It's more like having everyone else's committee speaking in your head - how god awful that would be. My own committee is noisy enough. I found the nurse a necessary ...more
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book really has the same atmosphere as 'the 15 lives of Harry August'. It uses one 'magical' aspect to show the complexities of the world. So this is almost not a novel but rather a lots of philosophical musings on the nature of knowledge and truth. Sometimes the plot creeps through and you can't put it away anymore, sometimes you're mesmerized by the wisdom within the main character's rambles. This book is an experience - don't try to think to hard about whether it would actually make ...more
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
William Abbey is a white man living in Victorian Era South Africa. A South Africa that is torn apart by white colonists and he's blind to the suffering surrounding him from the native Africans. Until he is cursed to see the truth in everyone's heart. The curse takes the shape of a boy who he watched on the sidelines as a mob burned him. Whenever that shadow of the boy reunites with him, someone he loves dies. So William Abbey has to run. All the time. This leads to him to become a spy for ...more
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Maybe I will only really enjoy one book by this author?! About done with trying the new ones.
Sandra Burke
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Claire North comes up with the most amazing concepts for her stories and this doesn't disappoint in that respect. She uses a fantastical situation and a thriller of a story to make us question the nature of truth.

The only reason I didn't give it five stars was that I couldn't find within me any emotion for the main protagonist, the eponymous William Abbey. The perfection of Touch and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August wasn't achieved for me in this book.
Kat  Hooper
Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Will review at
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I loved The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, and I thought the writing in this book was excellent, but boy, it was a lot of talking... Not dialogue so much. Just talking.
David Harris
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm grateful to Orbit for a free advance reading copy of The Pursuit of William Abbey to read as part of the book's blogtour.

A new book by Claire North is always a very special event in my reading calendar, and William Abbey didn't disappoint.

In something of the same vein as the Flying Dutchman, this is a tale of a man cursed after an act of selfishness. William Abbey is a mediocre doctor in 19th century Africa, banished to the colonies after falling for the wrong girl. The sin that curses him
Joe Jones
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Claire North is one of those authors who immediately jumps to the top of my tbr pile. This one did not disappoint. Horror, Thriller, Romance with exquisite writing and an original plot. I could not have asked for more.
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Claire North is actually Catherine Webb, a Carnegie Medal-nominated young-adult novel author whose first book, Mirror Dreams, was written when she was just 14 years old. She went on to write seven more successful YA novels.

Claire North is a pseudonym for adult fantasy books written by Catherine Webb, who also writes under the pseudonym Kate Griffin.
“Perhaps you don’t hate the British,” I mused. “Perhaps it is simply injustice.” “Of course!” she tutted, not turning her head from her examination of the road before us. “Of course it is injustice! But when injustice wears the same pasty face, you make connections, no? It is not truth. It is simply how the heart works.” 0 likes
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