The Sweetest Thing

The Sweetest Thing

Set in York in the late 1800s, The Sweetest Thing is an intimate story played out in the shadow of the cocoa factory and the asylum, the photographic studio and the Quaker Meeting House. A brilliant contemporary novel about late-Victorian life, it gives us a world of morality , espionage and cocoa where one man believed he could make his fortune from a mouthful of sugar and a pin-up girl.

Virago Press, 2003; Stone’s Throw Press, 2012

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‘The Sweetest Thing captures all the mouth-watering sweetness of desire (for freedom, for cocoa, for a face in a photograph), as well as the dusty grit it leaves on the lips.’

Emma Donoghue


The Sweetest Thing ‘triumphs through its unpretentiousness… Fiona Shaw makes notably little reference to Victorian life or anything specifically historical. If this nineteenth-century English woman and man convince us better than many of their mimic counterparts in other historical fiction, it is because their redemptive decency and understated sincerity of purpose are qualities the age itself held dear. For a writer to re-enact the past through the moral strength of her protagonists proclaims a considerable talent.’

Times Literary Supplement


‘Richly researched, warmly characterised and admirably humane’

Daily Mail


‘An erotic and intimate story [and] a truly top flight historical novel… This brilliant novel really cannot be praised too highly. ‘

Historical Novels Review