The highly anticipated second novel
from David Fairer:
The Devil's Cathedral
In this site you’ll find some historical background to the novel along with bits of illustrative material that I hope will increase your enjoyment of it.
Chocolate House Treason is the first in aseries of mysteries set in the London of 1708 during the uneasy months following the Act of Union (1707) which created the new nation of ‘Great Britain’. Parallels between the fledgling nation and the Great Britain of 2019 are of course entirely fortuitous.
The early months of 1708, with their political squabbling, marked the beginning of the party system we have inherited today, and I’ve tried to be as faithful as possible to the manoeuvrings, tensions and intricacies of the political world during January-February of that year. I place Widow Trotter and her friends at the heart of crucial national events. In this novel I imagine what it would be like for ordinary decent men and women to become caught up in the world of power politics. In other words, I’ve tried to embed my own plot within the actual events of the novel’s thirteen days as they unfolded – history embracing fiction, and fiction being true to history.
This is the Great Britain of Queen Anne– but it is also the Bay Tree Chocolate House of Mary Trotter. Two kingdoms, big and small. The doyenne of the Bay-Tree is discovering that her recent status of widow brings with it both power and wider responsibilities (at this time a married woman had no property of her own). Widow Trotter’s newly-refurbished chocolate house is the novel’s home ground, and I hope an interesting vantage point from which to view the London of Queen Anne.
The Devil’s Cathedral is the second in the series of the Chocolate House Mysteries, a novel which captures all the energies of the early eighteenth-century theatre. We move among the eccentric characters of the Theatre Royal company, in Drury Lane and at the exuberant May Fair where the actors moonlight in the fairground booths.
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 24 April 1708. A performance of Macbeth is under way when disaster strikes and the stage becomes a scene of elemental chaos – and for Widow Trotter and her friends at the Bay-Tree Chocolate House, a new adventure begins, involving murder, poison, fire, and a rogue elephant.
The puritanical reformers are determined to close the theatre and abolish the Fair, and ‘accidents’ begin to happen – but Mary Trotter and her friends at the Bay-Tree are determined to expose the conspiracy, and the action reaches its climax at the Fair when the players are faced with the ultimate act of terror.
In my second novel, I continue to explore the delights of the classic eighteenth-century novel, weaving a murder mystery with authentic history, and bringing the London of Queen Anne to life.