History

A Valentine’s Day History #ValentinesDay #History

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Hello my lovelies and Happy Valentines Day!!

So Valentines Day, personally it’s all well and good and lovely to have a day to which to tell a loved one you …well, love them. But it really is far too comercilised for my liking these days, it’s all about pushing sales and dragging people through the door – I do speak from experience, after spending many years doing just that in retail I know how shops think. And anyway, we really shouldn’t need a day to tell someone you love them, right? It should really be a none pressure, every day thing. But even I am willing to put my own personal thoughts of the day behind me to celebrate in my own unique fashion, Which is why I have a whole day of Romantic/Valentines posts coming up for you all.

Over the course of the next few posts, I will be looking into the history of Valentines day, chatting about my favourite romances and sharing all things romance and valentines – which I am pleased to say will involve my very popular ‘Hotties’ 😉 I hope you will stick around.

So to start things off lets a look at the history – you know me, I like history!

Valentine’s day as it is now is far removed from how it was once seen thousands of years ago, and to be honest once you start researching this oh-so romantic day you will soon clearly see that it’s origins is anything but romantic or full of love, but it is quite dark and a wee bit gory. Yes, it was that part that got me hooked as well 😉 and what a fascinating multi layered story it is. I don’t know if people know, but I did a previous post about Valentine’s day many years ago when Chicks, Rogues and Scandals was just starting up. At looking back at that post, as fascinating as it is – who knew that I could write a fascinating post, complete news to me that one. But I did hold back somewhat on the history, which is why with this post I intend to bombard you with as much of the history of Valentines as I possibly can – you will most likely fall asleep.

Oh, by the way if your interested in my previous Valentines Post, here is a link A Little History – Valentine’s Special.

So Valentine’s day as we know it today is all about flowers and chocolates and maybe the odd marriage proposal, but what we don’t do is actually celebrate the reason why the whole day exists and that is to honour Saint Valentine. Now here it the start of where thing become a little dark and confusing as there is three Christian saints that have been recognised by the church as being Valentine and more than that Valentine in one form or another has got roots in both Roman and Christian tradition and legend – this is where the none historians of the world (such as myself) get a wee bit perplexed as to who is who, but its fun to try and figure it out.

The Tale of Valentine.

The catholic church does recognise three different saints named Valentine (or Velentinus) all three of whom were martyred, hence being a saint I suppose. There is one legend that says Valentine was a priest who served during the 3rd century in Rome and by the sounds of him he was quite a rule breaker. The Emperor Claudius II thought that single men made better soldiers then those with wives and families– which I’m sure we all know that is a load of codswallop, right? So old Claudius outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine thought this, as I do was a – shall I say it again? Ok, I will – a load of Codswallop he knew that this wasn’t right, he saw the injustice so he went behind the Emperors back – he literally threw the decree back into Claudius’ face as he continued to perform marriages to all the young lovers in secret. As honourable and decent as his actions were, they led him with a death sentence once Claudius found out what Valentine was doing.

There or other stories about how he died, another source claims he was helping Christians escape harsh Roman prison’s and that was the reason he was put to death. But really, how can anyone know for certain? According to legend Valentine himself sent the very first ‘valentines’ card, it is legend that he fell in love with his jailor’s daughter after she began to visit him in prison. It is alleged that he sent her a letter and he signed it “From your Valentine” which we all know is how the majority of Valentine’s messages are signed today.

So here is where history, legend and myths becomes entwined; some believe that Valentines day is celebrated to commemorate Saint Valentines death and burial which some believe occurred in AD. 270. While others think that Valentines day is all down to the Christian Church who it is said moved their St Valentines Feast day to the middle of February so that they could ‘Christianize’ the pagan celebration of Lupercalia.

Dedication To The Goddess.

The fertility festival of Lupercalia was a dedication to the goddess Faunus, this usually occurred from the 13th to 15th of February. This wasn’t so much as a celebration of even a festival, what went on during Lupercalia was more a ceremony which heavily featured animal sacrifice and an awful lot of nudity. In one source it says that they were shepherds and in others it says a secret order of Roman priests; The Luperci – anyway whoever they were, they would gather where the infants Romulus and Remus were believed to have been cared for by the she-wolf otherwise known as Lupa. Once in the sacred cave copious amounts of wine would be drunk followed by various animals being sacrificed; a goat for fertility and a dog for purification both animals would be males as these had strong sexual instincts. After the men would then strip, don the animal hides and run through the fields, village street wherever they lived basically and slap the women they wanted with the blooded hides, the women would be very swiftly married off by the priest who was watching over the ceremony and…..well, I think you can gather what comes next. I, for one am very pleased that this doesn’t happen today, but then again would we ladies really allow this to happen? I doubt it!

Towards the end of the fifth century, Pope Gelasius I ended up banning the Lupercalia festival which had already started to fall out of favour with some in the upper echelons of society. He established Saint Valentines day on the 14th February what he thought of as a more Christian holiday instead of a pagan/heathen ritual. This whole new holiday didn’t really establish itself until the 14th century which then saw Valentine’s greetings become more popular. The oldest known valentine still in existence today which is a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.

Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée…”

Charles, Duck of Orleans 1415

The Chaucer Effect.

During my research for this post I have found numerous sites that state that Valentines Day wouldn’t be the day of romance as we know it today if it wasn’t for Geoffrey Chaucer. It is said that the author of the Canterbury tales brought the concept of love being connected to Valentines Day and then there are some who believe that Chaucer was the all out inventor of the day. Whether or not that part of the tale is true, no one will ever know, it depends of what you want to believe but one thing is for certain that Chaucer’s poem ‘Parliament of the Foules’ is thought to be the very first written poem which ties both love and romance with Valentines Day, it was the following verse which leads historians to believe Chaucer was the creator of Valentines Day.

For this was Saint Valentine’s day, when every bird of every kind that men can imagine comes to this place to choose his mate...”

Cards and Love Notes.

Even though the above notes and poem were popular and did start of the sharing of little love notes, exchanging Valentines Days cards or Love notes didn’t actually become popular in Britain until the 18th century The first Valentine cards were initially hand made – but then again why are we surprised, they didn’t have mass manufacturing and machines spitting a hundred out a minute in those days. Everything was more well thought out, lovers would decorate paper with romantic symbols which would have included flowers and love knots. They often would have included a puzzle or a few lines of poetry along with their card. Isn’t that sweet? I love how much thought they put into them, how they thought of the recipient. Once finished the cards would then be secretly slipped under you ‘valentines’ door, or even tied to the door-knocker with ribbon. It was during the Georgian era when pre-printed cards started to appear, at the time they weren’t as popular as the more lovingly hand-made ones but that was all about to change and soon pre-printed cards as we know are all the rage. Not just cheap but convenient for today’s all go society!

The oldest surviving examples of one of these cards dates back to 1797, it is currently held by the York Castle Museum and was sent by Catherine Mossday to a Mr Brown or London, it is decorated with little flowers and the images of cupid and a verse around the border which reads :

Since on this ever Happy day,


All Nature’s full of Love and Play


Yet harmless still if my design,


‘Tis but to be your Valentine

As we all know once the Victorian age arrived there was so much change, there was rapid advances in manufacturing and technologies that it became easier then ever before to mass produce Valentine’s cards, which soon became very popular. It is thought that by the 1820’s at least 200,000 Valentine’s cards had been circulated around London alone. Once the Uniform Penny Post was introduced in 1840 the amount of cards being sent and received just doubled. Victorian cards tended to far more elaborate, with fancy paper, lace work, embossing and various other intricate designs and as today the elaborate the design the more expensive the card and obviously there were some – just like today- that would have measured just how much their special someone loved them by how they would have spent on the card. Which I have always thought that to be a little uncomfortable thinking, what does it matter how much a card costs? It’s the thought that counts, right? One that didn’t feature on the Victorian cards was the huge red heart that is so synonymous to how we see love and valentines today. But, whatever they had on them, or however elaborate they were they came from the heart of someone who loves another very dearly.

But, that was not always the case when it came to the Victorians!

They created the not so romantic ‘Vinegar Valentines’ which it’s name literally speaks for itself, these weren’t lovey-dovey they were basically insult cards. They usually mocked the man’s profession of the woman’s appearance in some way, it is said that some of these cards were incredibly horrible – a bit like a poisonous pen letter. One of the few surviving ‘Vinegar Valentines’ which lives in the University of Birmingham features a lady with a large nose on the front with the tag line which said ‘Miss Nosey’ with the following rhyme:

On account of your talk of others’ affairs

At most dances you sit warming the chairs.

Because of the care with which you attend

To all others’ business you haven’t a friend.

By the mid-19th century the concept of sending your loved ones Valentines cards literally blew up and started to take on the form which we are more accustomed to, especially once it across the Atlantic to America. Cards rapidly gained popularity there, where they were initially advertised as a British fashion, advanced American technologies meant that more elaborate cards were produced cheaply. In 1913 Hallmark Cards produced their first Valentine’s card, representing a key development in the commercialisation of Valentine’s Day and the beginning of what we know see as Valentines day.

And thus, we have gone full circle, I don’t know about you but today’s overly commercialised and cheaper valentine’s just don’t have the same appeal as the lovingly hand-made Georgian ones do.

Before, I go because this post has run on far longer then I expected – Did You Know?
Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas.

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#Review Exploring The Lives Of Women, 1558 – 1837 by Louise Duckling, Sara Read, Felicity Roberts & Carolyn D. Williams @WSGUK #ExploringTheLivesOfWomen #WomensHistory #WomensStudiesGroup via @penswordbooks

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Exploring the Lives of Women, 1558-1837 is an engaging and lively collection of original, thought-provoking essays. Its route from Lady Jane Grey’s nine-day reign to Queen Victoria’s accession provides ample opportunities to examine complex interactions between gender, rank, and power. Yet the book’s scope extends far beyond queens: its female cast includes servants, aristocrats, literary women, opera singers, actresses, fallen women, athletes and mine workers.

The collection explores themes relating to female power and physical strength; infertility, motherhood, sexuality and exploitation; creativity and celebrity; marriage and female friendship. It draws upon a wide range of primary materials to explore diverse representations of women: illuminating accounts of real women’s lives appear alongside fictional portrayals and ideological constructions of femininity. In exploring women’s negotiations with patriarchal control, this book demonstrates how the lived experience of women did not always correspond to prescribed social and gendered norms, revealing the rich complexity of their lives.

This volume has been published to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837. The group was formed to promote research into any aspect of women’s lives as experienced or depicted within this period. The depth, range and creativity of the essays in this book reflect the myriad interests of its members.

 

This is a fascinating collection of essays that covers all aspects of women’s history and the women themselves from Lady Jane Grey to Eliza O’Neill and many, many more between, plus there are essays on women’s rights, lives, sports, intellect, novels and even sex. I was intrigued by it as soon as I saw it and it did not disappoint. If you are interested in women’s history and the more under-celebrated figures from women history then this will be the perfect book. It is a compelling, richly historic and fabulously written book which will entertain as well as educate.

I was particularly engaged with the chapter about the three ‘radical’ Mary’s; Mary Wollenstonecraft, Mary Hays and Mary Robinson now I have heard of all three, any woman who each in their own way fought for women’s rights and to educate not just women but men too. I thought this particular chapter was wonderfully written, with great insights into these fascinating women plus highly educational, I never knew that Mary Shelley was the daughter of Mary Wollenstonecraft, how amazing!

Plus, the chapter about women’s running is utterly fascinating, I never knew that between 1700 and 1749 there was a t least 68 ladies running races across the country, how fascinating is that? It was those essays that focused more on the ordinary woman such as the brave women who went down the colliery which really jumped out at me, that is one of the reasons I really connected with this book, was the fact that’s its not all about royals and aristocrats its got a lot of depth into the ordinary woman and what she faced.

For those that are more fond of novel’s and lighter historic non-fiction this may be a little heavy, but I would definitely recommend everyone to read it, and the beauty of this book is that you necessarily have to read it in order, you can very easily jump in an out and it will make a fantastic research book for anyone who writing, if you have a woman in your work in progress then I would definitely have a read of this, it will amaze you.

A great book, and one that definitely should be any woman’s bookshelf.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, Thank you Rosie.

Exploring The Lives Of Women 1558 – 1837 can be purchased from Amazon and Pen & Sword.

#Review Rebel With A Cause; The Life and Times of Sarah Benett, 1850-1924, Social Reformer and Suffragette by Iain Gordan #Suffragette #100years #SarahBenett #RebelWithACause @penswordbook

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One hundred years on, it is hard to imagine the violent disruption caused by the suffragette movement. After a century of peaceful protest had brought no progress a small group of determined women took matters into their own hands and turned to direct action. By virtue of their actions the cry ‘Votes for Women’ was heard throughout the country.

One of these unlikely ‘vandals’ was a mature middle-class spinster called Sarah Bennet. After leaving home on the death of her parents, she spent a decade attempting to improve deprived workers’ conditions in the Staffordshire potteries. Realising that nothing could be achieved until women obtained the vote and could compete with men on equal terms, she moved to London aged 55. Disowned by her family she joined Mrs Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political union and became an active suffragette. Ahead of her lay verbal and physical abuse, public contempt, imprisonment and hunger strikes.

Rebel with a Cause is her extraordinary story told largely in her own words.

My View

When I got offered the chance to review this book, I literally snatched it up, I knew that this would be right up my street and I was right. This is an extraordinary book, it is told mostly through Sarah’s words from her letters, diaries and documents that have survived and it tells the story of a truly inspiring and remarkable woman who gave everything for the suffrage movement.

This book tells the story of Sarah Benett, who was one of the most unlikely militant suffragette’s, before joined the cause she was working tirelessly in the Staffordshire Potteries trying to improve the workers conditions, trying to get them the rights they deserved but unfortunately unless women had equality and more immortal the right to vote her actions came to naught. Which is when after attending a meeting and hearing Flora McKinnon Drummon – or otherwise known as ‘The General’ speak Sarah knew then that this was her calling, this was what was needed. At the age of 57, Sarah Benett became a Suffragette.

I have read so much about the Suffragette’s and what they went through to be able to put that cross on the ballot paper, but this has brought a whole new understanding and even further respect to those brave and wonderful women who gave their all for something that many women today do take for granted and we truly are indebted to them.

Iain Gordan has written an informative, brilliantly researched and compelling book that can be read and enjoyed by anyone who has an interest in the subject. His writing is powerful, thoughtful and sympathetic to the subject as well as illuminating and engaging especially with the addition of the brilliant illustrations and photographs that really work to bring the time and this woman to life.

This is definite must read, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie at Pen and Sword.

A Rebel With A cause is available from both Pen and Sword and Amazon.

#Review 1066; What Fates Impose by GK Holloway (@GlynnHolloway) #Historical #Medieval #BattleOfHastings #1066WhatFatesImpose

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England is in crisis. King Edward has no heir and promises never to produce one. There are no obvious successors available to replace him, but quite a few claimants are eager to take the crown. While power struggles break out between the various factions at court, enemies abroad plot to make England their own. There are raids across the borders with Wales and Scotland.

Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, is seen by many as the one man who can bring stability to the kingdom. He has powerful friends and two women who love him, but he has enemies who will stop at nothing to gain power.

As 1066 begins, England heads for an uncertain future. It seems even the heavens are against Harold. Intelligent and courageous, can Harold forge his own destiny – or does he have to bow to what fates impose?

My View

My goodness, this is absolutely bloody brilliant! I am a massive history fan and this book tick’s all the boxes, history in abundance, a bit of a romance, character’s that are not only real from history but also are immensely fascinating. I am not one to rate a book as I am more for sharing my opinions, but this has to be a definite 10/10, It really is mind-blowingly good!

This book centres around Harold Godwinson, before reading this I off course knew of his eventual fate and I knew the history surrounding 1066 and onwards once William the Conqueror gained the crown, but I knew very little about Harold himself and his family, and the battles for power that resulted in him becoming King. Reading this has completely opened my eyes to the era and it’s vast history, this is a magnificent book from an author who obviously has a real passion and understanding of the era and of these historic figures, which makes this already great book even more enjoyable to read.

As the title states this is about the what happened during 1066, but for those that aren’t as fully clued up in the story of Harold Godwinson apart from his unfortunate end, the story starts in 1045 when the country are facing a bitter struggle for power as King Edward; the Confessor who is lacking the ability and the inclination to produce his much needed heir, the whole country and those abroad are preparing themselves for the crisis of succession that we all know is coming, everyone from the nobles to the clergymen and to the foreign rulers are all watching, waiting and plotting.

Edward is getting more and more paranoid, due mainly to the manipulative Norman; Robert du Jumeries, he is seeing threats to his throne at every corner, the main perpetrator which Edward is becoming increasingly wary of is his father-in-law; the Earl Godwin of Wessex and his family. At one point he brought charges against them making them flee, which also included his own Queen who ended up in exile. As the story winds itself towards 1066 we meet a whole host of historic figures, some of which I hadn’t really know but after this I am immensely interested in learning more about them.

The political and power struggles all for the crown is deadly as well as hugely fascinating, Mr Holloway has taken a time in history, an event and figures and brought them all to life. He has given Edward, Harold, his family and William a voice, a face and he has made them real in a way they weren’t before. I think what really stuck with me while reading it, was that it gave me a whole new perspective on Harold. Instead of just thinking of Harold and his ending, you understand Harold as the man before he was King. I think he was a brilliant man, intelligent, savvy, protective, loyal and very much in love with his wife – which was in all accounts a love match. So the reader learns about him instead of focussing on what we all know is coming and that for me was an integral part of the whole story, knowing the ending didn’t over shadow the story as it was so brilliantly written.

This book is a wonder, the writing is solid and rich in immersive historic detail but it’s not thrust into your face your not drowning in history that you miss the story. It is an accurate, engaging, thrilling, compelling, full bodied book which has been written with the finesse only an exceedingly talented author can write with. 1066; What Fates Impose is an impressive book that will be taking very pride of place on my bookshelf and one that I will be pulling off to re-read again and again.

This is the first I have read by GK Holloway and it has made an impression on me, I will most defiantly be reading more from this brilliant author.

This was a complimentary copy via the author in exchange for an honest review, thank you Glynn.

1066; What Fates Impose can be purchased from Amazon.

#Review – Heroic Measures by Jo-Ann Powers (@CeriseDeLand) #WW1 #Romance #Historic #HeroicMeasures @WildRosePress

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Honoring those who have served their country in war, most focus on those who have fought on the battlefields. But one group’s heroics under fire have slipped through the pages of history, a group whose blood and sweat were left in operating rooms and hospital tents, a group whose heroism has seldom been measured.

For nurse Gwen Spencer, fighting battles is nothing new. An orphan sent to live with a vengeful aunt, Gwen picked coal and scrubbed floors to earn a living. But when she decides to become a nurse, she steps outside the boundaries of her aunt’s demands…and into a world of her own making.

Leaving her hometown for France, she helps doctors mend thousands of brutally injured Doughboys under primitive conditions. Amid the chaos, she volunteers to go ever forward to the front lines. Braving bombings and the madness of men crazed by the hell of war, she is stunned to discover one man she can love. A man she can share her life with.

But in the insanity and bloodshed she learns the measures of her own desires. Dare she attempt to become a woman of accomplishment? Or has looking into the face of war and death given her the courage to live her life to the fullest?

My View

I knew when I came to read this book that it would be an emotional ride as I walked in the footsteps of such heroic and supremely inspiring women, but I was over-awed and whilst reading this book. I felt in so much awe of Gwen and her fellow nurses who did the most incredible job, these women were vital for the war effort. Jo-Ann Power has gone above and beyond with telling these extraordinary women’s stories, the depth of research is incredible at times it was like actually being standing right beside them. It painted an emotionally raw and brutally real picture of what these women went through.

I think what really struck me most when reading this book was just how little I knew about front line nurses from America. I think that being from the UK, we take all our meticulous record keeping via the archives and the War Graves Commission for granted and we tend to be a little ignorant to the fact that the Great War affected not just us on Europe and the common wealth but those from America also feature heavily, we just don’t really know about them. Which is why this book is so damn important, It is exactly what we need in this world and it is one of those rare books that will stand the test of time,

The story really follows one young nurse; Gwen – who is a hugely likeable character, a woman after my own heart she has spirit, determination, she has seen her fair share of troubles before she even goes into nursing, but those issues have made her the strong, reliable and passionate woman I found her to be. We first see her in nursing college where her and her close knit group of friends have fun between studies, once graduated they now face the real world. Unfortunately this world is now at war and Gwen soon finds herself facing all the horrors of the front, as she is sent to battled destroyed France.

This is definitely the most heart breaking part of the book what Gwen and her friends face day in day out is harrowing. The picture of that dark and soul destroying place is vivid and real, Ms Power has done an absolutely incredible job at portraying the scene with the utmost realism and respect and this is where the authors research and brilliant writing comes in to it’s own, she captures your attention through out the book and I can guarantee that there is times you will get a lump in your throat ad tears in your eyes.

Heroic Measures is an emotionally powerful read that will leave the reader in absolute stunned silence, it’s true, poignant and highlights an aspect of women’s history that I think a lot of us may have forgotten.

Very highly recommended one of the best books I have read and one that everyone should read.

This was a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Heroic Measures can be purchased at Amazon.

#Review – Crikey! How Did That Happen? The (Refreshingly Unauthorised) Biography of Sir Bertram Wooster, KG by Ian Strathcarron (@ianstrathcarron) #Blogtour via @Bookollective

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I have the great pleasure to be the next stop on this great Blog Tour and to share my review of Crikey! How Did That Happen?

Up until now we have only known Bertie Wooster in his mid-twenties; this is his first whole life biography, told in ten short stories at seven year intervals. Thus we first meet Bertie aged seven, in 1907, at Malvern House prep school, then follow him to Eton aged fourteen and Oxford at twenty-one. We meet Jeeves when Bertie is twenty-eight and then they go their separate ways: Jeeves to the Royal Household at Buckingham Palace and Bertie to the French Riviera at its most glamorous, causing havoc with Somerset Maugham and Alfred Hitchcock, before being accidentally captured by the Italian fascists and spending Christmas Day 1942 with Mussolini.

After WWII Bertie resumes his career in musical cabaret, headlining the Royal Variety Performance in 1949, before being pitched into the machinations of Hollywood at its prime in 1956. In 1963, Bertie, caught up in the zeitgeist, finds himself in the Himalayas with the Maharishi and then we say goodbye to a very much alive Sir Bertram in 1970 in Mustique, where he becomes involved in a murder mystery with many of the leading tax exiles and celebrities of the day

My View

I will admit that when I first got asked to be apart of this blog tour I did think very carefully about it before I said yes, this isn’t usually the type of book that I would usually pick up and I will admit that before reading this I didn’t really know who Bertram Wooster was. But I am always willing to give a book chance, after all a change is as good as a rest, right? I came into this book with completely open eyes, not knowing what to expect, and you know what I was pleasantly surprised at just how much I enjoyed reading it.

I first thought that this would a story that spanned over the decades, which it isn’t as such, this is complied of ten short stories that span between 1907 and 1970 where we see Bertram grow from a likeable young lad to the best valet and then on to being a married man. Each part of Bertram’s life enjoyable and has a certain vividness that captures the readers attention and imagination. For those like myself who was a tad ignorant of who Bertram Wooster was this will read as an entertaining story of a young man who went from being an orphan to entering a world of the rich and famous.

There is a great deal of seriousness to it, but that is expertly lightened by the authors wit and skilful play with words that keeps the reader turning the pages. Crikey! How Did That Happen? Is a fun, refreshingly original book that will take you on an adventure as well as having you laugh out loud while reading – yes, that did happen and I did receive some odd looks from the family. If you are like I was and unsure if this book is for you, then I say give it a go it will surprise you.

This is a surprising fun and enjoyable book, very recommended!

This was a ARC copy via the Ladies from Bookollective as apart of this blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Review : A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty by Mimi Matthews

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What did a Victorian lady wear for a walk in the park? How did she style her hair for an evening at the theatre? And what products might she have used to soothe a sunburn or treat an unsightly blemish? Mimi Matthews answers these questions and more as she takes readers on a decade-by-decade journey through Victorian fashion and beauty history.

Women’s clothing changed dramatically during the course of the Victorian era. Necklines rose, waistlines dropped, and Gothic severity gave way to flounces, frills, and an abundance of trimmings. Sleeves ballooned up and skirts billowed out. The crinoline morphed into the bustle and steam-moulded corsets cinched women’s waists ever tighter.

As fashion was evolving, so too were trends in ladies’ hair care and cosmetics. An era which began by prizing natural, barefaced beauty ended with women purchasing lip and cheek rouge, false hairpieces and pomades, and fashionable perfumes made with expensive spice oils and animal essences.

Using research from nineteenth century beauty books, fashion magazines, and lady’s journals, Mimi Matthews brings the intricacies of a Victorian lady’s toilette into modern day focus. In the process, she gives readers a glimpse of the social issues that influenced women’s clothing and the societal outrage that was an all too frequent response to those bold females who used fashion and beauty as a means of asserting their individuality and independence.

My View

Well this is wonderful, I am a huge fan of Mimi Matthews work, whether that be her beautifully poignant romances, or her well researched factual pieces, like this. I will admit that as soon as I heard about A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, I was fascinated by it and I was jumping about for pure joy when I got the opportunity to review it.

This is the perfect reference book for those interested in Victorian fashion and beauty, set out in different sections throughout the book it covers every aspect of what a Victorian lady would have worn and her beauty regime from 1840 to 1890. Ms Matthews covered everything you would ever want to know about, from under-garments, day/evening wear and shoes to cleansing soaps, hair removal and hair styling.

Every aspect of a ladies, day when they change, and why is written in clear and precise detail from which piece of clothing they would wear for what occasion, who would be able to wear what. Ms Matthews has even covered the fabric and colours that would have been used. And I do have to say that, I love how very gothic the Victorian era was in their clothing.

My favourite part is the Victorian Beauty chapter, I always knew that their cosmetics were at times perilous for the health. Some of what they used to do, to keep that perfect porcelain complexion is mind blowing plus quite bizarre and worry-some that Victorian ladies were so obsessed that they were happy to put quick lime on their faces and even use electricity to combat some normal issues.

This is such a great read, brilliantly researched and fabulously engrossing. I love how much detail Ms Matthews has added to each part, her passion for the era is obvious and another thing I love is how she has sprinkled the whole book with passages and extracts from genuine articles and periodicals from the time.

I cannot recommend this enough, for anyone who loves their fashion history and Victorian’s then this is a must read.

This was a ARC/Complimentary copy from the Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty is available now and can be purchased from Amazon.