The Empire by Michael Ball #HistoricalFiction #Theatre @mrmichaelball @ZaffreBooks @rararesources #TheEmpire #TuesdayBookBlog

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Empire by Michael Ball, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources.

The Empire

My Thoughts

Following a suggestion from some friends, plus something that his late mother had left him, Jack Treadwell made his way to The Empire theatre. He hadn’t been sure what to do with his life since returning from the horrors of the war and his time in France, but now at least he had an objective.

Lady Lassiter, ex showgirl, old friend of Jack’s mother and joint owner since the death of her husband, wasn’t in the country. Jack found himself searching for Grace Hawkins, assistant to the manager, and the person who seemed to keep everything ticking over. Being back stage in the midst of a dress rehearsal was an eye-opener for Jack. It awoke something in him and he was enthralled. Jack was intent on securing the position of stage doorman, or any other as long as it was in the theatre, and he would take whatever was offered regardless of the hours or wages. 

When Jack had arrived at The Empire theatre, full of pluck and hope, the young lad hanging around the foyer had taken one look at him, ushered him to this seat, and scarpered before Jack could introduce himself or state his business. Then the action on stage — a stunning young woman leading a large chorus dressed like angels — had induced Jack to sit down, be quiet and enjoy himself.

Set in Northern England in the early 1920s, we discover The Empire is struggling. The Lassiter family don’t seem to take much interest and a rival owner of several theatres and music halls, Joe Allerdyce, is using underhand tactics to try and acquire the Empire. Jack, whose open and friendly manner has charmed most of the people he’s come into contact with, and Grace are determined to do everything they can to keep the Empire up and running.

The Empire evokes the grandeur and magic of the theatre setting, the excitement, hard work and extravagance of staging a show, especially when it’s a make or break situation. I loved the sense of camaraderie between the actors and crew, once one or two had been put in their place, but regardless of that, things don’t always run smoothly. There’s more going on behind the scenes than on the stage.

The large cast of characters is slightly overwhelming, but happily there is a (very long) list to refer to. However, I soon became caught up in the story, following the fortunes of the cast, the theatre and the shows. I did wonder while reading whether Michael Ball had based some characters on people he knows and/or has worked with. I imagine it would have been hard not to do so but regardless, his love for the theatre and its people shines through.

The characters are well developed and complex. Apart from Jack, I think my favourite character was Bill. He was so sympathetically written as he worked to overcome his struggles, but there are also a good number of others who are likeable and add to the story.

The Empire is an accomplished debut. The story flows well and is written with warmth, feeling and wit, along with touches of romance. There are also darker moments, dirty dealings, tensions and  secrets to uncover, but despite the unexpected and dramatic finale there’s no question of giving up. 

I just have to mention the gorgeous cover which depicts the era perfectly and I love how it carries on round showing the back of the building complete with stage door. A must read for anyone who enjoys the theatre.


Welcome to The Empire theatre

9781804180549 (1)1922. When Jack Treadwell arrives at The Empire, in the middle of a rehearsal, he is instantly mesmerised. But amid the glitz and glamour, he soon learns that the true magic of the theatre lies in its cast of characters – both on stage and behind the scenes.

There’s stunning starlet Stella Stanmore and Hollywood heartthrob Lancelot Drake; and Ruby Rowntree, who keeps the music playing, while Lady Lillian Lassiter, theatre owner and former showgirl, is determined to take on a bigger role. And then there’s cool, competent Grace Hawkins, without whom the show would never go on . . . could she be the leading lady Jack is looking for?

When long-held rivalries threaten The Empire’s future, tensions rise along with the curtain. There is treachery at the heart of the company and a shocking secret waiting in the wings. Can Jack discover the truth before it’s too late, and the theatre he loves goes dark?

Musical theatre legend Michael Ball brings his trademark warmth, wit and glamour to this, his debut novel.

Enjoy the show!

Purchase Links –

Amazon UKAmazon US


michael+ball (1)Michael Ball OBE is a singer, actor, presenter and now author. He’s been a star of musical theatre for over three decades, winning the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical twice, he’s also won two BRIT awards and been nominated for a Grammy. Michael regularly sells out both his solo tours and his Ball & Boe shows with Alfie Boe and has multiple platinum albums. The Empire is his first novel.

Social Media Links – Twitter Michael Ball / Twitter Zaffre Books /  Instagram Michael Ball / Instagram Zaffre Books

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7 thoughts on “The Empire by Michael Ball #HistoricalFiction #Theatre @mrmichaelball @ZaffreBooks @rararesources #TheEmpire #TuesdayBookBlog

  1. This sounds great and I do love theatre, so I think it’s a must! I’m always a bit hesitant when people who’re famous for something else take to writing novels, so I’m glad to hear this one works… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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