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The Lady Brewer of London

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  429 ratings  ·  101 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
Paperback, 816 pages
Expected publication: November 10th 2020 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published September 22nd 2014)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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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
Sheena ☆ Oh, the 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
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.

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
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
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.
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
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
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 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.
loss of a star is because I'm just tired of rape scenes.
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
Oct 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historic-ficton, 2014
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
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
THE BREWER'S TALE was a huge read – well over 500 pages – and for me it did drag some of the time as it made me feel, on more than one occasion, that there was too much detail given at times and I felt my eyes glaze over. The first couple of chapters, while setting the scene, were difficult to track, but I wrote notes and persevered and the story settled down and I was able to follow the story and relationships much better. I did learn a lot about beer though, for example I always presumed that ...more
Sheryl Gwyther
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fabulous read! A lovely, long book to take one into the world of Medieval England - the feel, the smell, the sights, the language an the authentic, complex characters.

I think Karen Brooks is a gifted writer - her (obviously) meticulous research is layered throughout the story via the characters and their lives, and from what I've read about the Medieval period, The Brewer's Tale rings true. Her language use is delightful.

Our protagonist, Anneke is up there with my other favourite Karen Br
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Brewer’s Tale just leapt into my top 5 favourite book list! Karen’s research and eloquent writing style, throws you head first into 15th Century England and takes you on a ride bursting with tragedy, treachery, endurance and love.
When Anneke is orphaned, she decides the only way she can make money is to brew ale using her mother’s family recipes. Anneke hopes brewing will provide enough money so she, her siblings and loyal staff can remain in the family home.
If Anneke is to succeed as a sing
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in the year of Our Lord 1405, this historical, medieval novel (my favourite genre!) is an amazing, well written book, gripping plot and characters, and if you like this period of time, you will love The Brewer’s Tale. Anneke Sheldrake's father is lost at sea and is in disbelief when she learns that she and her younger siblings have been left with nothing. Desperate to keep what remains of her family together, she strikes a deal with her father's employer and daringly chooses to go into busin ...more
Jenny Kirkby
I enjoyed being transported into a different period and place in history. The overlying story, while engaging, didn’t entirely appeal. I found the main characters stereotypical of most impossible romances and therefore unrealistic. In saying that, I understand that ‘romance’ and ‘happily ever after’ is not a personal preference for me so those aspects of the story I found spoiled the rest of it a bit. Overall though, a good read that entertained as well as educated.
Aug 22, 2020 rated it liked it
What a sweeping historical fiction novel! I learned so much about the brewing process of ale and beer, as well as life in fifteenth century England. Anneke Sheldrake is forced to find means of support for herself and her siblings when her father dies and they are left with nothing. She makes a deal with a nobleman that allows her to begin brewing ale using the recipes she inherited from her beloved mother.

Anneke is a brave, young woman who is determined to succeed in a man's trade and in a socie
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
Joy Matteson
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
TW: rape

Well, with a title like "Lady Brewer of London", it basically asked to be read by me, ha! Anneke Sheldrake lives in 15th century England and has series upon series of misfortune thrust upon her. She pulls herself up by her 15th-century style bootstraps and decides to make the beer her mother used to make, but of course, a lady brewer is akin to being a prostitute in those days, so trailblazing that way is what is called upon. It felt needlessly violent in some areas (seriously, stop with
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
I love it when the author shares a bit about their inspiration at the end, and for this book it was evident that a lot of time and effort was put into creating an authentic setting with characters, laws and of course, the brewing process of the time. I really liked what the brewing brought to this story, with well thought out and researched descriptions of the process, and the little quirks that made Anneke's brew special, like the pagan corner crones. The author mentions that after all their re ...more
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this.
A dastardly villain (somewhat reminiscent of Captain Black Jack of Outlander fame) who just can't stand the success our MC is managing. He gets rather obsessed about her ability to keep going in the face of adversity.
Anneke is a real "don't give up" kind of heroine, which is a strength I can get behind.
There were a few glitches here and there that just needed a bit more copy-editting. I realise most books do, but I still like to expect more from publishing houses, especiall
Page (One Book At A Time)
This book took me a long time to read. I would go through spurts were I felt like I was making headway. And then there would be times that I could barely get through a couple pages. Add to the fact that it's hefty at almost 600 pages, and you have a monster of a historical fiction.

All that aside, I did enjoy the book. Anneke's life is not one that I would wish upon anyone. But, she never gave up. She endures her father's death, the ridicule of her cousin, taking up a profession that is considere
Christine Titheradge
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody & Everybody
Recommended to Christine by: My Book Club - Heather Thomas
I read this book for our book club. It didn't look like the kind of book I would enjoy. I figured if I didn't like it I could always use it as a door stop. WELLLLL, hold the phone, this is an amazing story. Right from the first page to the last. Every single scene and chapter was suspenseful. It's been a while since I have stayed up past 3am reading a book, but I found myself doing this on more than one occasion. I read it the adds on TV, I read it at the breakfast table, I even read it on the l ...more
Ruth Ross
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
I loved this book, right from the first page I was hooked and had to keep reading it (Christmas Day got in the way a little) The way the author writes about all the characters is fantastic, especially the main character, the trials she puts her through has you on edge at times. There are many twists and turns in the story and some have you holding your breath - that's the kind of book I like! Full of heritage, romance, fear, betrayal, passion and death. I put this book up there with The Bronze H ...more
Dawn Hough
SIX STARS !!!! Stunningly brilliant. I was introduced to Karen Brooks via the Chocolate Maker's Wife which is one of the best books I've ever read. I then went on to read The Locksmith's Daughter and now the Brewer's tale. If you like historical fiction, this author is an absolute must. Just loved this book. Brilliant.
Leeza Hortle
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book from start to finish. I could not put it down and now it is finished it still stays within my thoughts. Such a rich book filled with love, drama and courage. Providing the reader with an insight into the lives of women during medieval times.
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