John-Paul Flintoff: What readers say

John-Paul Flintoff

What If The Queen Should Die?

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(…because it sets the scene for the rest of this page.)

The hero: Daniel Defoe, author, spy and businessman

The main character in What If The Queen Should Die? is Daniel Defoe, best known today as the author of Robinson Crusoe, one of the first novels published in English.

As a young man, Defoe is widely believed to have taken part in the Monmouth rebellion against the Catholic king James II – a treasonable act for which many others were tortured and executed.

Defoe later worked as a spy for the government of James’s Protestant daughter, Anne. And he wrote propaganda that was often powerful, but sometimes backfired spectacularly (getting him thrown in prison).

Along with everything else, Defoe was a merchant – importing (among other things) tobacco, beer, wine, silks, muslins, cochineal, wax, dates, tea and ostrich feathers. He was not always successful here, either, and at the start of What If The Queen Should Die?, Defoe has lost everything.

The story

Why you should read this book


How to get your hands on this extraordinary book

This novel was published through the ingenious (and rather exhausting) mechanism of crowd-funding, via the innovative London-based publisher, Unbound.

Happily, it is also distributed in all good bookshops, online and off, by Penguin Random House.

If you want to buy it, you are obviously somebody with great taste. And I’m sure you know how to go about doing that.

What readers say

Are you clever enough to appreciate the 18th century?

This period should interest anyone who’s interested in literature, says Professor John Mullan.

More from Prof Mullan here.

“I found the book intriguing, joyously difficult to put down. It kept calling me back from whatever I was doing, urging me to read on. The form feels anarchic yet sumptuous. A feast for readers who enjoy their books stylishly written and cleverly plotted.”
- Victoria Lambert

“The descriptions of eighteenth century life will be with me for years. It had never occurred to me that losing a king or queen would be like losing a parent… Fantastic!”
- Kylie Rixon

“Quirky, unique… a book that is really about the art of story-telling. It has left me bedazzled.”
- Una Lynch

“Extraordinary and exciting”
- Gyles Brandreth