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New novel from Cambridge author John Harvey opens a window into Rubens’ time

John Harvey, who previously taught at Cambridge and is the author of five novels, is releasing his latest work, Pax, next week.

Author John Harvey
Author John Harvey

When artist Stephen Bloodsmith creates a series of images inspired by Rubens’ trip to London in 1629, the fundamentals both of his world and of Rubens are challenged.

The prints he makes become windows into another time, another world.

Pax is a profound novel about power, desire – and peace.

Pax cover
Pax cover

Speaking to the Cambridge Independent from his cottage in Greece, John says: “The story concerns the private lives both of a contemporary artist and of the painter, Rubens, 300 years ago.

The Rubens story is about the time he came to England, as the envoy of the Spanish court wanting to make peace between England and Spain.

“This is in the middle of the time known as the 30 Years War, when Catholics and Protestants are slaughtering each other.”

John says that Rubens was successful in his quest for peace: “It really appealed to me, the idea of an artist actually engaging with divisions and wars in the real world and in a way being able to make a difference,” he notes, adding: "The novel is about division and unity, in intimate as well as in political life."

Pax, published by Holland House Books, is available from October 17.

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