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The Lady Brewer of London

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3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,264 ratings  ·  261 reviews
An unforgettable historical tale set in fifteenth-century England of a brilliant woman’s defiance, courage, and ingenuity—from the author of The Locksmith’s Daughter and The Chocolate Maker’s Wife.

1405: The daughter of a wealthy merchant, Anneke Sheldrake suddenly finds her family bankrupted when her father’s ship is swept away at sea. Forced to find a way to provide for
...more
Paperback, 816 pages
Published November 10th 2020 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published September 22nd 2014)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  1,264 ratings  ·  261 reviews


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Miranda Jaie
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This is the best book I have read in a long time, if not ever. Karen Brooks is committed to delivering an authentic, historical read that is still engaging, which was important as I don't usually read historical themed novels. It was a book where I didn't want to get off the train, I didn't want to sleep, I didn't want lunch break to end, I didn't want to go out because I just HAD to keep reading - it was more compelling than Shantaram, and possibly as consuming and addictive as the Harry Potter ...more
Kim Wilkins
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is dense and rich and delicious like mud cake. I thought I would take weeks to read it but couldn't put it down, ignoring my children and even forgetting to eat lunch one day. The lead character Anneke is up there with some of the best female characters of all time. She is full bodied and fascinating and my heart ached for her. The rich historical details painted such an eloquent and vivid picture of time and place, but somehow the story felt contemporary and real and relevant. I am pu ...more
eyes.2c
Intriguing!

The struggles of a young woman who must try to forge a new way of life when her wealthy merchant father's ship is lost.
1405 and Anneke Sheldrake finds herself destitute, the house and livelihood she took for granted gone. How to provide for her family and restore their fortunes?
Her mother's people had been Brewers from Flanders. With the help of her recipe book (and the crones who whisper in the brewing commencement) Anneke forges ahead to be come a female brewer. Her successes has h
...more
Louise
3.5 rounded up to 4.

A good cast of characters and a good story, very well-researched. I found the first half of the book to be very slow, but thankfully the pace picked up after that.
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
Nov 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
When Anneke Sheldrake's father is lost at sea she is horrified to learn that she and her younger siblings have been left with nothing. Desperate to keep what remains of her family together, she strikes a bold bargain with her father's employer and, armed with her late mother's family recipes, daringly chooses to go into business as a brewer of ale. Despite being ostracised by most of her family and friends, and repeatedly harassed and intimidated by the local Abbot and his cronies whose monopoly ...more
Sheena ☆ Book Sheenanigans


‘The Lady Brewer of London’ tells the tale of the naive nineteen year old daughter of a wealthy merchant, Anneke Sheldrake who suddenly finds her family bankrupted when her father’s ship is swept away at sea. Forced to find a way to provide for herself and her siblings Karl and Betje, Anneke rejects an offer of ‘companionship’ *cough*servantship*cough* from a despised, newly married cousin and instead turns to her late mother’s family business—brewing ale.

Armed with her mother’s
...more
Alynda
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-of-2014
I don't tend to leave reviews often, or rate novels as 5 stars - but I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

So here's my review: some spoilers may follow, so read on at your own risk!

The first few chapters were tough to follow, and while they set the scene for things to come, it was tricky to read. I loved reading about the way Anneke came back to brewing and her family heritage, and was half expecting the sabotage that came about from it - though wouldn't have picked just 'who' would be responsible.

Th
...more
Tracy Greer- Hansen
Jun 05, 2022 rated it really liked it
Every year I take on a book that is long. This was this years book.
Coming in at 800 pages it felt like like two books in one. The book was a slow burn and the last half definitely went more quickly. Everything you could want is a historical fiction with a fantastic heroine and an evil monk. I learned so many new words and was fascinated by the story of London Bridge and life in the 1400s. I also loved the aspect of ale and brew-making which is so interesting.
If you have the time I would highly
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Sue
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love this authors previous books so was rather excited when her latest hit the shelves. It was in one of my fave genres, historical/medieval.
The main character is Anneke/Anna and she tells her story tells of her harrowing fight for justice, love, acceptance amidst obstacles that would crush many of us.
being a working single woman in a male dominated society was always going to present hardship, heartache and challenges.
Karen certainly throws everything at our heroine and then some more.
I managed
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Karena
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
loss of a star is because I'm just tired of rape scenes. ...more
MarciaB - Book Muster Down Under
From the patriarchal society of Medieval England, Karen Brooks brings us a riveting story about one woman who flies in the face of those influenced by the contemporary beliefs held about gender and authority, as she determines to rise above her circumstances.

Set in the year of Our Lord 1405, Anneke De Winter, a Dutch girl living in England, loses her father to the wild seas in a tragic accident. Having lost her mother previously, she is forced to make a living and keep a roof over the heads of h
...more
Joby Milne
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exceptional story that I could read over and over. Given all that Anneke has to deal with, she is such a strong character. Fierce. Proud. Lovely. Loyal. Amazing. And the hero? Sigh...I fell for him too.

How could I not with a line such as...

I am yours to command. All it would take is your expressed need.

I need! I need! I need!

This is a fabulous book which has slipped comfortably on to my list of my favourite books of all time.
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

When Anneke Sheldrake's father is lost at sea she is horrified to learn that she and her younger siblings have been left with nothing. Desperate to keep what remains of her family together, she strikes a bold bargain with her father's employer and, armed with her late mother's family recipes, daringly chooses to go into business as a brewer of ale. Despite being ostracised by most of her family and friends, and repeatedly harassed and intimidated by the local Abbot and his cronies whose monopoly
...more
Sheree
Fascinating, horrifying, evocative; Karen Brooks' meticulous research and eloquent writing took me to medieval England in the 1400's ... from the fictional town of Elmham Lenn to Southwark, London and Gloucester and the world of ale-making.

Anneke Sheldrake is such an interesting character, what she endures while establishing herself as a brewster, plagued by prejudice, sabotage and tragedy made for harrowing reading. I found the entire brewing process surprisingly fascinating ... ale, hops, bee
...more
Tara Chevrestt
I think this would be a fabulous tale, if it were butchered a bit. It's just too long and drawn out with too much detail. Otherwise, the idea of woman taking up brewing and competing against a ruthless abbot determined to put her out of business...is wonderful stuff. I had no idea brewing was cutthroat, nor did I realize hops was so strange an idea at one time aka beer. But this has began to feel like the never-ending story. Never-ending stories with too much detail just can't hold me. ...more
Joy
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just a wonderful read. I loved the historical period & the way it was portrayed through a woman's POV. Congratulations Karen. ...more
Vicki
Good but sometimes I wish an editor would tell an author to go back and remove about a third of the waffle.
Candace
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The Lady Brewer of London opened my eyes to women brewing in the Middle Ages during the reign of King Henry IV. Anneke Sheldrake resorts to brewing ale and beer to support her family and servants, who are more like friends, after her father is pronounced dead at sea. She is a strong protagonist who faces many struggles, prejudices, and eventually joys. The author, Karen Brooks, beautifully writes a woman of strong feelings for family and friends. She has a moral character that continues to belie ...more
Venetia Green
This is a tale of beer and the subjugation of women in 15th-century England.

Anneke Sheldrake is a wealthy merchant’s daughter until her father drowns and it is revealed that he has deprived his children of their inheritance. Desperate to keep her household together, Anneke turns to brewing ale to make ends meet – thus irredeemably lowering her social standing in the eyes of the townfolk and her brother. But social slippage is soon the least of Anneke’s worries for, as a woman with no male protec
...more
Belle
Oct 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, historic-ficton
What a book. I often find with historical fiction that it's either a poorly disguised romance novel set however long ago, an unrealistic rendition of the era or a bad ass depiction of life in that era. The Brewer's Tale is absolutely the latter.

When Anneke Sheldrake is forced to find a way to support her family after her father is lost at sea, she turns to the business by which her mother’s family once prospered: brewing ale.

This book is set in an era when women were property of their men-folk
...more
RuchReads
Jan 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
So this book ticked a lot of my boxes! Historical fiction, good storyline and a strong female protagonist ...all the ingredients for a perfectly brew, right? Well..nearly!
The story is revolves around a 19 year old Anneke Sheldrake , the daughter of a wealthy merchant who finds herself penniless following her father's demise. Courageous, plucky and determined to keep her home, siblings and the loyal staff together decides to brew ale commercially using her mother's recipes. What follows her are
...more
Sarah Goldsmith
Nov 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book was very different from what I have been reading lately. I didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I did. This was a great historical fiction with unexpected drama and twists, as well as character building that pulled at my heart. I am so used to reading books where the women protagonists solve all their problems with magic and wit. This book was very different from that and spoke on the true persistence and strength of the human spirit. It was beautifully told and gave me a lot to re ...more
Beth Sponzilli
This book was finally released to the US this fall, it was originally titled the Brewer’s Tale. She is an Australian author and I could not find it or it was very expensive online! Anyhow, I heard great things about it and it lived up to it. An epic historical novel of the ale and brewery business back in the early 1400’s in England. Her research on this is very thorough as she is known to be. Her other book I read The Chocolate Makers Wife is dense with historical research as well. This is a mu ...more
Katie
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Not often is an 800-page book read in two days - but I was unable to put this down! The story was so much grittier and intense than I was expecting, and I loved it, although parts were difficult to read (at some points I gasped out loud, a rarity!) Definitely an excellent way to start the year!
Viana
Oct 28, 2021 rated it liked it
I liked all the historical detail in this book. I liked the plot and the characters. The romance aspect seemed cliche and overwritten. Hence the 3.
Barbara VA
While not a beer or ale person I loved this story of female brewers set in the early 1400's. Finished Chocolate Maker's Wife a few weeks ago and during the GREAT afterward she discussed the genesis of this, so it was a done deal! Follettesque (did I just make up a word?) ONto what is next! ...more
Stacy
Jan 21, 2021 rated it liked it
I have such a love hate relationship with this book. On the one hand the author is so talented in re-creating a time so far back in history and has clearly researched a great deal to create this book. I often found myself looking up words I was unfamiliar with or even settings - i.e. I had no idea that the London Bridge of that time had houses actually ON it. I read that description twice then went to look it up and find scaled models of it - so fascinating. She did a great job summing up the hi ...more
Jo
Aug 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Well that was stressful.
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
3.5 stars

Karen Brooks, author of The Brewer’s Tale brings to life the craft of a female brewer in the medieval times. A work of fiction and a romance weaved in with rich historical detail, The Brewer’s Tale is a feast for historical fiction lovers. A strong female protagonist leads the story, Anneke Sheldrake’s life is suddenly changed when her Father is lost at sea. In charge of her young siblings, it soon becomes clear that it is a fight for survival. Anneke strikes a deal with her father’s em
...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
In "The Brewer's Tale" we meet a young woman, Anneke, who is suddenly left on her own to take care of herself and her family as her father is lost at sea. It is up she alone to support her family and during the time that she lives in this isn't always easy for a woman to do. She had it she decides that she is going to brew ale, which is not particularly a job that women had during this time. She faces a lot of doubts from a lot of different people but she knows with a little bit of determination ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Book attributed to wrong author of same name 3 15 Jan 23, 2020 09:24PM  

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