Welcome to my website and thanks for dropping in.
This is what I'm about: I write novels and plays where I try to rethink history in a particularly personal way.
For me, uncovering the past is something like peering through a telescope only to encounter a mirror.
It's easy to think people lived differently in eras gone by, yet we can forget that they were still people, no different than ourselves in what they thought and felt as human beings.
Life in the past only seems different at first glance. When you look at history closely you start to see that nothing very much has changed at all. People are people and always were.
In my experience the past stays just within reach of our fingertips, no less familiar than yesterday, no more distant than the page before.
I write widely about periods and places that fascinate me, but all my works are united by similarities in theme.
I'm drawn to stories of people whom history overlooks - because of their gender, their age, or their class - people who are sidelined by those who wield power. I write about those who exist in the wings, watching on patiently until those in the spotlight suddenly miss their cues.
In all of my stories, that hoped for moment comes when someone long backgrounded sees their chance to step forward and onto the stage to make history their own.
Luke Devenish author
Four women join forces to survive the invasion of Paris with conviction, courage … and style.
France, April 1940. Orphan Polly Hartford has been sent across oceans to her Aunt Marjorie, known only from letters. When Marjorie dies in suspicious circumstances, Polly is left with her aunt’s loaded pistol in a beautiful Hermès handbag... and to the care of Marjorie’s three closest friends: an elegant Comtesse, a gutter-born film star, and a big-hearted American heiress.
Polly is taken to live at the Hôtel Ritz, where staff and guests believe money protects them from war… But when the Nazis invade, the illusion is shattered.
As Paris deteriorates, Polly and her guardians face the horrors of the Occupation with daring, humour and style – even romance – and despite their dangerous secrets, disastrous under the Nazis, they discover just what they are capable of.
As the Liberation approaches, those who survive must face a day of reckoning, but one truth stands tall: at the heart of the Ritz is the soul of resistance.
A sweeping, dramatic story about conviction and courage, drawn from real characters and extraordinary events.
In March I was interviewed by Luke Gibson for an episode of his highly entertaining podcast, The Artiste.
I dished the suds on my soap opera salad days, when I was let fatefully loose upon the denizens of Ramsay Street and Summer Bay - and of course I talked plenty about my books, too, including my forthcoming The Heart of the Ritz.
Me and Luke had a hoot.
In May I received the uncorrected proof copies of The Heart of the Ritz - the advance copies which are sent out to reviewers and fellow authors for quotes - and the day was indeed a banner day for me with the joy of having physical proof that my new book is real, and what's more, imminent.
Of course I read it again, and of course I once again found myself welling up at my favourite 'heart' moments. It's not like I didn't know they were coming - and yet they still got me.
I hope they'll get you, too.
The Heart of the Ritz will start appearing on Australian and New Zealand bookstore shelves in late August/early September.
It can't come soon enough for me!
In February the first public airing of The Heart of the Ritz occurred at the Historical Novelists Society Australasia's Melbourne chapter's first get together for 2019, where I talked with a room full other historical fiction writers about bringing our characters and settings to life. It was a privilege to introduce my heroine Polly Hartford and her fateful green Hermès handbag to such discerning company. It was also a pleasure to meet Kate Murdoch, Belinda Lyons-Lee, Gabrielle Ryan from the Wheeler Centre, and all the other passionate novelists that make this group such a lively and supportive one.
Photograph by Jel Cel via Facebook
Listen to me talking about The Secret Heiress on Radio 3CR's Published or Not here.
Dark shadows fall across the golden summer of 1886. Naive country girl Ida Garfield longs to escape the farm. When Miss Matilda Gregory, the elegant mistress of Summersby House, offers Ida employment as a housemaid, Ida leaps at the chance. Yet it’s not for her servant’s skills that she’s wanted. It’s her inquisitiveness...
Miss Gregory is found dead before Ida starts her first day. Fearing her one chance of bettering herself lost, Ida comes to the funeral, hoping that someone else from Summersby will still want her.
Someone does. Handsome blond Englishman Mr Samuel Hackett is the late Miss Gregory’s fiancé. He expresses a keen need for a housemaid – and a friend.
But Miss Gregory’s will brings to light an extraordinary deception and a terrible wrong from the past. Summersby has a secret heiress, whose name is also Matilda Gregory. A strange, ethereal girl with an irrevocably broken memory...
Who is this mysterious heiress, and why is Ida bound forever to the truth?
"A fabulous upstairs, downstairs drama."
Australian Women's Weekly
"Luke Devenish is a master at the dramatic cliffhanger."
"A deviously dark and dramatic tale."
"All the Gothic elements plus a little bit more."
Sydney Morning Herald
"I thought I knew exactly what to expect... I was wrong. This book is so much more... and the twists at the end were well worth it."
New Zealand Herald
Read more about The Secret Heiress here.
It is 44BC and the rival clans of Rome are driving the Republic towards a violent, blood-soaked end. The jealous Claudians covet the power of the Julians, who are kings in all but name.
A tiny infant utters the prophecy of a goddess. If the darkly beautiful thirteen-year-old Livia Drusilla marries her bastard cousin, eleven-year-old Tiberius Nero, four great kings of Rome will spring from her womb. Four great Claudian kings…
Livia and her child groom begin their star-crossed marriage—but Livia has dangerous ideas. She believes herself greater than the gods and she doubts the interpretation of the prophecy.
When Julius Caesar is murdered the fortunes of the Claudians take a sudden, deadly turn. The great patricians become paupers. Livia and her husband must flee Rome—or face being killed as criminals.
But Rome falls under the spell of Caesar’s golden-haired nephew, Octavian. The youthful dictator in the making offers Livia and her boy husband forgiveness. Yet Livia sees more than mere forgiveness in Rome’s most desired new man. She sees Octavian as the true sire for her prophesised kings—and she sees her own chance for power…
So begins a murderous tale of sex, corruption and obsession as Livia pursues her great destiny. No crime is too shocking. No sin is too low. No evil is beyond her grasp.
Narrated by the 100-year-old slave, Iphicles, and set in a time where no woman could hope to wield power, DEN OF WOLVES brings life to the legendary women behind the legendary men. With ambition, beauty and cunning as their weapons, the women of Rome are history’s unsung survivors.
Rome is bathed in blood as the Emperor Tiberius is tormented by drug-fuelled terrors of treason. The innocent are butchered while the guilty do evil in darkness.
None are guiltier than the Emperor’s devoted and deluded ‘son’, Sejanus.
In this city of poison three beautiful women are locked in a lethal rivalry…
Agrippina. Driven mad with grief, her obsession with revenge for her murdered husband imperils the lives of her children.
Apicata. Robbed of her eyes and embittered in her heart, she schemes in the shadows to empower the husband who despises her.
Livilla. Sensual and sly, she is gripped by a lust for a lover as deadly as he is desirable.
Moving stealthily among them is Iphicles, arch schemer and slave, whose haunted heart is lightened by the eunuch Lygdus, his willing apprentice in murder.
With paralysed Livia now a helpless captive to her slave, it is the repellent brat Little Boots’ turn to profit from prophecy. But as Iphicles’ deadly plan to enthrone Little Boots unfolds, Livia struggles secretly towards recovery with the help of the sorceress Martina.
Rome is a nest of vipers, and Livia, the one true Empress of Rome, is hell-bent on wreaking her vengeance…