Under siege for 120 days during the Boer War (1899-1901), the inhabitants of Ladysmith are forced into tunnels and makeshift shelters while thickening bread with laundry starch and killing soldiers’ horses for meat. Inspired by the letters of the author’s great-grandfather, a British trooper, a cast of characters emerges ranging from Irish Republican renegades to London literary editors to Churchill and Gandhi. At the centre is young Bella Kiernan, for whom the long siege represents an unexpected freedom as she finds the courage to rebel against the political forces that threaten her homeland and pursue her life’s greatest romance.


Captivating.... A highly accomplished historical novel
Washington Post
Skillful.... Precise [and] affirming.... Foden creates a complex mosaic
Dallas Morning News
LADYSMITH is a haunting, disturbing novel-not only about how things were in a long-forgotten war, but how that war made us what we are
Once again Giles Foden has carried out an exacting program of reading and research
New York Review of Books
The engine that keeps this novel in motion is not just the progress of the siege but the sense of lives lived before and afterward, of events and the memory of events slanting away into the steepening perspectives of age
New York Review of Books