The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho

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For fans of Bridgerton, a lush and immersive tale of adventure, artistry, romance, and freedom set in eighteenth-century London and inspired by a true story

“I had little right to live, born on a slave ship where my parents both died. But I survived, and indeed, you might say I did more.”

It’s 1746 and Georgian London is not a safe place for a young Black man, especially one who has escaped slavery. After the twinkling lights in the Fleet Street coffee shops are blown out and the great houses have closed their doors for the night, Sancho must dodge slave catchers and worse. The man he hoped would help him—a kindly duke who taught him to write—is dying. Sancho is desperate and utterly alone. So how does the same Charles Ignatius Sancho meet the king, write and play highly acclaimed music, become the first Black person to vote in Britain, and lead the fight to end slavery?

It’s time for him to tell his story, one that begins on a tempestuous Atlantic Ocean and ends at the very center of London life. And through it all, he must ask: Born among death, how much can he achieve in one short life?

“An absolutely thrilling, throat-catching wonder of a historical novel. In The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho, Paterson has given us a character for the ages. It’s hard to overpraise this achievement. You might read it for its evocation of an age or for its depiction of the cultures, attitudes, and race all colliding in ‘Enlightenment’ England, but whatever you bring to the book, the book will bring to you adventure, romance, and the full flowering of a magnificent literary hero, all told in wonderful prose and with dazzling energy and brilliant panache. Never woke, but always awake. Hugely recommended.”