A Little History; Heroines In History

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It has been a while since I wrote a post for my “A Little History” series and for its return I thought I would share with you some of my heroines in history. Unfortunately I can’t list all of the brilliant women in history that I have looked up to over the years, my post would go on for days if I did. So I have chosen these five women who were so very different and yet so incredible in their own right. These five women were strong and independent and courageous.

Grace Darling

Grace Darling

I don’t know if anyone knows about Grace but she was a brave and brilliant young woman in the Victorian era. Grace lived with her father in a lighthouse on the Farne Isles, off the Northumberland coast when in Autumn 1838 she spotted the ship wreck of the SS Forfarshire on the rocks on a nearby Island, while looking out of her bedroom window. She and her father determined that the rough sea was too harsh for the life boat so together her and her father got in their own little row-boat and set off towards the wreck. Grace and her father rescued 13 people and then made their way back to the safety of their lighthouse home.

Grace was after that inundated with gifts and accolades because the bravery she showed on that day, I can’t even think how much courage it must have taken to step into that tiny row-boat and row out on to that turbulent sea.

Grace later became ill and in October 1842 she died at the tender age of 26 from Turberculosis, Grace was an ordinary young woman who selflessly put her own life on the line to rescue other’s and because of her bravery she changed how women were perceived in that era.

Flora Sandes

Flora Sandes

Flora Sandes was the only British woman to serve as a soldier on the frontline and in the trenches during WWI, but she didn’t just serve as just a regular soldier she worked her way through the ranks to become a Sergeant Major. The story of how Flora managed to get there is just as incredible, she was a St Johns Ambulance volunteer , she shot a man in self-defense and went to Serbia to serve as a nurse. Once in Serbia she was separated from her colleagues and she did the only thing she could to survive and that was to join the Serbian army as a soldier.

The fact that she was a 40-year-old British women and the daughter of a clergyman didn’t mean a thing, she fought side by side with the men – The Serbian army accepted women at that point – and she fought so well that she was quickly promoted. Flora was injured by a grenade which put an end to her military career but the Serbian Military honoured her with their highest award – the Order of the Karadordes Star for her bravery.

Violette Szarbo

Violette Szarbo

Violette was by far one of the bravest women in British history, she was an incredible woman. Violette was half French and half English, in 1940 she married a French officer who died in battle the same year, following his death Violette wanted a bit of excitement and adventure she joined the FRench Section of the Special Operations Executive or SOE and worked as a Secret Agent in occupied France.

It was on one of her missions that she was captured and taken tp Ravensbruck concentration camp, where after months of interrogations and she refused to speak, she and two of her SOE colleagues were executed.

In 1946 Violette Szarbo was the first British woman to be posthumously awarded the George Cross, the medal was pinned to the chest of her daughter Tania who was wearing a dress her mother had bought her on one of her missions to Paris. There is a brilliant film about her called “Carve Her name With Pride” which stars the amazing Virginia Mckenna.

Emily Bronte

Emily Bronte

Emily was an absolute hero of mine when I was growing up, Wuthering Heights is just about the best piece of literature there is, I just loved how raw and real it is. How she captured how powerful and moving the moors and it’s inhabitants can be.

From all accounts about Emily she was a shy, home-loving recluse who loved nothing better than wandering around the moors, happy in her own little world and on her own. She is often refered to as intensely creative and passionate, a free spirit and an iconic tortured genius. and going by the brilliance that Wuthering Heights is, I thing k I would agree. She was strong in her own way, by all accounts she didn’t want the whole husband and family thing, she was more than happy in caring for her family and doing what she wanted when she wanted and I really admire that.

“She should have been a man – a great navigator. Her powerful reason would have deduced new spheres of discovery from the knowledge of the old; and her strong imperious will would never have been daunted by opposition or difficulty, never have given way but with life. She had a head for logic, and a capability of argument unusual in a man and rarer indeed in a woman… impairing this gift was her stubborn tenacity of will which rendered her obtuse to all reasoning where her own wishes, or her own sense of right, was concerned” Quoted by Constantin Hegar

Queen Elizabeth 1

Queen Elizabeth I

It may be an obvious one but I do like how strong and resilient Elizabeth was, she was an incredible woman who was living and ruling in a mans world she was under constant prejudice because of her sex and under constant pressure from her advisors telling her that she needed a husband to succeed in their world. I admire her for her stiff upper lip and fact that, yes she was a woman in a powerful position but she didn’t cave in under the pressure and she protected her people and her country when they needed her the most.

Most men in that position would have crumbled with all the back stabbing and underhand goings on that circulated the court, but not Elizabeth, she proved that a woman can survive a man’s world. All my heroines have that same courage and passion and each one of them have gone out into a mans world and made it her own, they have proved that we women don’t need knights in shining armour to ride in and save the day. . .We can save our selves.

If you want to know more about my heroines then check out the links below.

Grace Darling / Violette Szabo / Emily Bronte  / Queen Elizabeth I / Flora Sandes

The Queens Christmas Summons ~ Review

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Back Blurb :

“Royal courts are glittering places. But there can be many dangers there.” 

The words of Juan, the shipwrecked Spanish sailor Lady Alys Drury nursed back to health, echo in her mind as she puts on another courtly smile.

Then Alys locks eyes with a handsome man amid the splendor of Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas court—Juan is posing as courtier John Huntley! Alys is hurt at Juan’s deception until she learns he’s an undercover spy for the crown… Amid the murky machinations of the court, can true love still conquer all?

My View :

I do have to admit that Tudor/Elizabethan era novels are my guilty pleasure, they don’t come along often so I was over the moon when I got the opportunity to review The Queens Christmas Summon’s. And I wasn’t disappointed! The thing about Tudor/Elizabethan novels is that a lot of authors tend to stick to the known historical character’s and stick religiously to the story that we all know and love, what I really like about this is that we have a new couple to get to know. Alys and John’s story is so strongly entwined with historical fact that it makes a new story out of one that has been told so many times, it is refreshing and new and utterly real and likable.

Our couple; Alys and John are the cutest couple that I have come across in ages, they met each other when they were but children, a brief but memorable encounter that neither of them ever forget, and then fast forward ten years and they are once again thrown together. Alys is the daughter of one of Queen Elizabeth’s Lord’s but because of her mother being Spanish, their family was sent to live in Ireland so her father could be lord of the Duboynton castle; here she dreams of one day being able to attend Queen Elizabeth’s court but with England and Spain at war she is to stay at her isolated little castle untill the Queen summon’s her.

Alys laughed with joy. “I feel the same John. We are bound together, you and I. We have been ever since I found you on that beach.”
He smiled, and it was like the summer sun coming out, warming her heart. “so we must go on saving each other?”
“For the rest of our lives, I hope.”
“Does that mean you will marry me, Alys? That you will stay with me even in a tumble-down pile like my house?”
Alys feared her heart would burst, it was so full.” I would go anywhere at all, John, as long as we are together.”
“My angel,” he said, and leaned closer to press his lips to her in a warm kiss filled with the promise of all the days to come. “I do love you.”
“As I love you.”
He kissed her hand. . .

John like Alys is half Spanish, because of this fact he is taken under the wing of his godfather, the notorious and elusive Sir Matthew Morgan, who enrol’s John into a life of spying for his Queen and Country. One day when he is trying to get back to England after year’s of being under cover at the Spanish court, John is on the Armada that sink’s in a storm on the Irish coast. John and wounded and in serious danger when Alys saves his life.
Their relationship isn’t highly erotic or overblown, it is sweet and gentle, the atmosphere is charged around them, it simmer’s below the surface. They are both conflicted and confused about their feeling’s for one and other, John is the worst for it he has his role as a spy to consider and how dangerous that position is for those around him and you can understand why he tries to keep Alys at arm’s length, but even the trained royal spy can’t ignore that fact that she has become his world.

There is some really lovely moment’s between these two, by far the most romantic moment for me is when John is teaching her to dance while they are hiding out in a little neglected Abbey in Ireland. They are both themselves they isn’t any falsehood’s they are just two people sharing a beautiful moment.

She came to a stop close to him, mere inches from his shoulder. She didn’t dare look up at him, into those magical eyes. The warms of his nearness made her breath catch. “Now – now what?” 

“I put my hand on your waist, like this,” he answered hoarsely as his hand landed lightly on her waist. “You hold my shoulder, and we turn.” They spun around each other, slowly at first, their steps twining around each other, perfectly matched, as if they had always danced just like that. Alys held onto his strong shoulder, letting him guide her, trusting him, But then she got ahead of him, and his leg tangled in her skirt. She felt herself tip-off balance, toppling toward the floor. She caught his shoulders, her stomach lurching, and he swung her up high in the air.

Alys laughed, her head floating giddily. “Is this part of the dance?”
“it is now! Our own step.” He twirled her around and around, as if she was a mere feather. . .

If you’re a fan of Tudor/Elizabethan historical, conflicted romance, ruggedly handsome spies, fearless heroines and with a christmas undercurrent then The Queens Christmas Summons is the book for you. Even if you’re not a regular reader of any of the above, this book will charm you none the less.

I did really love this, and I cannot thank the lovely Amanda enough for sending me an early copy, it has got so many twist’s and turn’s there is danger and romance and deadly secret’s in every corner of Queen Elizabeth’s court and right in the centre is our adorable couple.

This is a must Christmas read, and I do recommend that everyone go out and grab a copy.