VITA BREVIS is (almost) out in the UK!

At last! The hardback of VITA BREVIS, the story of Ruso and Tilla’s trip to Rome, goes on sale in the UK tomorrow (22 September). Vita Brevis HB coverYou can read the beginning here.

This publication is less nerve-wracking than usual because the book’s already been released in the US and in other formats here, and I’m grateful to everyone who’s said kind things about it.  It may well come to a bookshop or library near you, and is available online (see below). But…  the mighty Amazon UK don’t have it in stock. It’s probably a glitch that’ll be fixed before I’ve finished typing this*, but I was surprised – and ashamed, to be honest – by how alarmed I felt at facing publication day without the Big A on board. (*LATER – it wasn’t, but it is now.)

All of which left me thinking that life must have been so much simpler in the days when a book was either on the shelf in front of you, or it wasn’t. So I took a little look back to the early 1900’s, when one small seaside resort in Devon could support FIVE circulating libraries/bookshops, all competing for the cash of locals and visitors alike:Advertisement for circulating library

As each library was run on a subscription basis, readers would have to choose between them. (Maybe things weren’t as different then as we imagine. It’s not so far from the Netflix/Prime/Other-subscriptions-are-available debate, is it?) There’s a refreshing honesty about the advertising, though:

Advertisement for library

Perhaps the deciding factor would be price.

List of subscription prices

Hm. Shall I buy a year’s access to Class A books, or nine gallons of stout?

Brewery price list

Rather than commit to a subscription, you could always buy books outright from the same shop.

WH Smith advert for Cheap Editions

Some of the books on sale would be published on the premises. Indeed, should you wish to write your own book, pens and paper would be readily available to purchase. Sadly delivery by drone was not on offer, but someone from Vince’s would obligingly wheel your books through the streets to you in a splendid wooden hand-cart. (I used to have a photo of this but annoyingly, I can’t find it.)

Full marks to Vince’s yet again for imaginative marketing…

Advert for paper to make hats with

I have no idea why enough people might want a paper hat to warrant the cost of the advertisement. Maybe they were sunning themselves on the beaches? It’s a reminder that despite the parallels, those were very different times. Here’s an advertisement from the autumn of 1914.

Advert for maps made by Englishmen

I like to think we’ve moved on. And mindful of the awful events about to engulf the readers of these advertisements, I think I’ve got that mere hiccup on a 21st century website back into some sort of proportion.


The research for this post was done at the delightful Ilfracombe Museum.

* VITA BREVIS is available from bookshops or online at:

Bloomsbury UK


Blackwells (who also own Heffers in Cambridge, where I believe there is stock on the shelf.)


The Book Depository

Amazon UK

If anyone has any other suggestions, please share.


8 thoughts on “VITA BREVIS is (almost) out in the UK!

  1. Well the down side of all this modern stuff is when you read the book on the Kindle,you get excited with every new launch only to find that it’s the one you read a few months back!!!
    I honestly thought Tilla would take to being a Roman Matron but I lived the book nonetheless
    Looking forward to number 8

    1. Oh dear, sorry Patrick! Glad you enjoyed the book, anyway. Ruso 8 is well under way but won’t be going to the editor until 1 November, by which time I’m hoping it will have a coherent plot and a proper ending.

  2. I have enjoyed reading all of the Medicus books in the series here in the US.
    The latest was a delight which I passed on to my 21 yr. old granddaughter who is serving in the US Army in San Antonio, Texas.
    She is a Medic/EMT, which means the series is of special interest to her.
    Because I am a teacher of World History, I am excited to continue to read each of the books in the series.
    Ruth, your books have allowed my granddaughter and me to continue to have something in common as she has grown from a teen to an adult!
    My hope is you will continue to be inspired to create and write additional books in this series.

    1. Thank you Kathleen – it’s lovely to hear that you and your granddaughter have been able to find a common interest in the books! And humbling to think of her and her colleagues doing Ruso’s ‘job’ in real life. Please pass on my very best wishes to her. There will indeed be another book in the series, and I’m attempting to wrestle the plot into shape right now.

  3. Son, Ian, is an A&E (ER in Yank speak) Doc in Atlanta Georgia. He has very much enjoyed all of your Russo novels. Although he did speak of the methods of treatment with great disdain. Can wait for 8, cheers from across the pond.

  4. Loved the audio of Vita Brevis (you can’t go wrong with Simon Vance) and can’t wait for the next installment of the Medicus series. Keep them coming!! 🙂

    1. Indeed you can’t, Marie! So glad you enjoyed it and I’m really sorry for the slow reply – all a bit disorganised here at Downie Towers at the moment.

  5. Just finished the audio of Vita Brevis (you cannot go wrong with Simon Vance!) and I am very eager for the next installment. Love this Medicus series!

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