Historic, Meet the author

The Other Hoffmann Sister by Ben Fergusson

The Other Hoffmann Sister is the exciting second novel from UK author Ben Fergusson, and it’s released in hardback this week.

It seems to be the perfect time to tell you more about Ben and this intriguing new book.

Who’s Ben Fergusson?

Ben is a novelist, editor, publisher and a translator. Wow – the big four! He’s a student of English Literature (all the best folks are) and Modern Languages, and has worked for over a decade as an art-book editor and publisher. Not bad for a guy who’s only in his mid-30s.

Like many writers, Ben started with short stories and has been published in the UK and US, and had many of this short-form works nominated for literary prizes. His first novel, The Spring of Kasper Meier, was picked for Waterstones Book Club, WH Smith Fresh Talent and the BBC Radio 2 Book Club. And, yes there’s more, it was longlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award in 2015, and won both the Betty Trask Prize and the HWA Debut Crown Award in the same year. Oh, and he was named the Young Writer of the Year 2015 by The Sunday Times. Now, that’s just showing off.

What’s the book about?

The Other Hoffmann Sister is an epic tale that will take you through wars, across continents and inside a family with a secret to hide.

Here’s the blurb from the publisher Little Brown:

For Ingrid Hoffman, the story of her sister’s disappearance began in their first weeks in Southwest Africa. She always felt responsible for her sister Margarete and when their family moves to German Southwest Africa in 1902, her anxieties only increase. The casual racism that pervades the German community, the strange relationship between her parents and Baron von Ketz, from whom they bought their land, and the tension with the local tribes all culminate in tragedy when Baron von Ketz is savagely murdered. Baroness von Ketz and their son, Emil, flee with the Hoffmanns as the Baron’s attackers burn down the family’s farm.

Both families return to Berlin and Ingrid’s concerns about Margarete are assuaged when she and Emil von Ketz become engaged on the eve of the First World War. But Margarete disappears on her wedding night at the von Ketz’s country house. The mystery of what happened to her sister haunts Ingrid, but as Europe descends into chaos, her hope of discovering the truth becomes ever more distant. After the war, in the midst of the revolution that brings down the Kaiser and wipes out the aristocracy that her family married into, Ingrid returns to the von Ketzes’ crumbling estate determined to fin out what really happened to her sister.

What are people saying about it?

The book is receiving praise from across the board.

Writer Jason Hewitt described it as “a beautiful, compelling read with exquisitely drawn characters”, while Willian Ryan said it is “elegantly crafted and engrossing”. Imogen Robertson, author of The Paris Winter, also said it was “taut, subtle and ambitious”. Top marks!

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to read the proof copy that the lovely folks at Little Brown sent me (sorry, wedding planning is at full height – marriage in 17 days!) but I’m excited to get started after learning more about Ben and The Other Hoffmann Sister. 

The Other Hoffmann Sister was published in hardback by Little Brown on 4 May.

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