Hypocrisy, Secrets and Lies

There are now thousands of Kindle titles available on Amazon. More books are added everyday by publishers and self-publishers and it’s impossible to keep up with the sheer volume and variety of titles available.

The likelihood of you finding “Magnificent Britain” by Michael Murray from a random search of the Kindle Store isn’t great. So I’ve written this post to help you because “Magnificent Britain”  will be free to download from June 25 – 29 (incl.) and I don’t want you to miss it!

“Magnificent Britain” was the first ebook Michael and I self-published with Kindle Direct and that was back in 2012 at the start of the ebook publishing revolution.

“Magnificent Britain” is a long novel which is ideal if you’re going on holiday and want something to immerse yourself in while you’re soaking up the sun. It’s a very readable novel but it’s not easy-reading. The themes are complex and challenging and the main protagonists are not the nicest people you’ve ever met.

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One reviewer of “Magnificent Britain” wrote:

Warning! This book is seriously addictive! Sir Maurice Brearley, founder and sponsor of the Magnificent Britain gardening competition, is a man with secrets. Biographer Nigel Lush has been commissioned to tell Sir Maurice’s life story. He, too, has secrets. Lady Brearley insists, together with the publisher, that the biography must show what a wonderful man her husband is, but Lush receives a letter from someone whose dying father has a different story to tell. The old man says he knows Brearley from their time fighting together in World War One. Lush wants to add a postscript to his book but is unable to tell what he now believes is the true story. Later, we read the personal testament of Sir Maurice, hidden until after his death, which tells his version of their relationship and the story behind his honourable discharge with crippling injuries. Will the true story ever be told? Not if Lady Brearley’s MI5 brother can help it.

This book is convincingly told and brilliantly manipulates the beliefs of the reader. We are told of cowardice under fire, punishable by execution if confirmed. We read of sexual entrapment to prevent a homosexual writer from telling what he knows. The story moves back and forth from the late 1960s to the First World War to the 1930s and finally to the early years of this century and very believably sets the historic scene with its class divisions and the illegal status of homosexuals in those days. It’s a most compelling story and a great study of the complex trap we set for ourselves with lies and deceit, even if originally well-intentioned. An excellent read and thoroughly recommended.


Another reviewer said:

I had previously enjoyed Michael Murray’s very good novella, ‘Julia’s Room’, about a Fleet Street reporter. Here is a book which is considerably longer, epic in nature, and still impeccably written. The story builds with a dazzling complexity but is so well-written and so gripping that ‘Magnificent Britain’ is never less than compulsively readable.

The story is in three parts with time changes between each part. This device lends the book its epic feel. The reader witnesses changing times, changing attitudes, and entire lives that are shattered with secrets and deceit. The book opens with Nigel Lush, a biographer who seemingly has it all, but in fact is missing the one thing that he so desperately wants and needs. In a time when homosexuality is heavily restricted to the point of illegality, Nigel is unable to be who he wants to be, particularly because he is in the public eye as a famous biographer. If he comes out, his career will be in tatters. This issue of sexuality still resonates today.

Nigel also craves some respect from his critics, who look down upon him writing standard pop and film star biographies. His chance to impress comes while working on the biography of Maurice Brearley, a distinguished man awarded in World War I and responsible for setting up the annual Magnificent Britain garden competition. What at first appears to be a dull biography, where everything in Brearley’s life is normal and praiseworthy, turns out to be a hotbed of secrets and lies all connected with the rumoured scandal that Brearley deliberately shot himself in the foot to escape the trenches. This single incident has devastating repercussions that travel through generations and families. To say more about the plot would be to spoil the book.

Author Michael Murray packs an incredible amount into this book. Along with a racing plot, he explores such wide-ranging issues as repressed homosexuality, the class system, the truth and art of writing, and the challenges in faithfully producing someone’s life story. All the principal characters are drawn with impressive detail, so you feel for them all at different times, depending on the circumstances. More powerful than anything in this book is the suffocating intensity of a group of people not being who they really are because of those around them. It is precisely because of this ability not to be honest with themselves and others that causes such tragedy in their lives.

The plot is expertly put together. Time and time again, we see the same incidents described from different points of view. Who is right and who is wrong? And just when you think you have it all figured out, the whole book is turned on its head in a series of revelations that left me reeling and re-evaluating characters and their motives. It is a rare gift that gives the author the ability to profoundly move the reader with a character that was previously portrayed as loathsome and cowardly. Right until the very end, everything is not as it seems. By taking one incident and having different people describe it selectively or with a different slant, the author shows how it is perfectly possible to distort the truth, whether willingly or not. The manner in which this is done is nothing short of stunning.

‘Magnificent Britain’ is a book which deserves to be read and discussed over and over. The quality of the writing is top-notch, the sense of time and place superb – the passages set in the trenches rival those of Sebastian Faulks’ ‘Birdsong’. The way the three parts of the book slot together works very well indeed and the final Post Script (so aptly titled) is moving, satisfying and ultimately chilling. I am rarely this blown away by a book; I just loved it. Read it. You’ll never fully trust a biography again!

I’ll finish this review with a quote from the book. It’s taken from the trench sequence but the description can easily be extended to other parts of the book. “To stand in no man’s land for the first time is to know the deepest loneliness it is possible for a human being to feel.”

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Many thanks to these and other reviewers who’ve found the time to write positively about the novel. Not all the reviews are so enthusiastic but c’est la  vie! The Buy on Amazon button below will take you straight to the “Magnificent Britain” bookpage in the Amazon Kindle Store.

Thanks for visiting my blog and hope you have a great day.

All best wishes,

Cathy 🙂

By Catherine Murray

I'm trying to write a blogpost every day, hence 3sixtyfive blog.


    1. Browsing for books actually on the Kindle is a waste of time now. I tend to look for new authors/titles on my laptop and download a few at a time and return for more when I’ve read / not liked and given up. Too, too, too many books and definitely not enough time! 🙂


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