Non Fiction

#Review : Suffragette Planners And Plotter; The Pankhurts/Pethick- Lawrence Story by Kathryn Atherton #SuffragettePlannersandPlotters #NonFiction @penswordbooks

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Hello everyone! I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of this enlightening book; Suffragette Planners and Plotters, The Pankurst/Pethick-Lawrence Story by Kathryn Atherton.

By Kathryn Atherton
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 152
ISBN: 9781526722966
Published: 28th January 2019

Emmeline and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence were an extraordinary couple and theirs is an extraordinary political and personal story. Emmeline was treasurer of Mrs Pankhurst s militant Women s Social and Political Union. Fred was the only man to achieve leadership status in the organisation. Without their wealth, determination and skills we might never have heard of the suffragettes . Emmeline was always at Mrs Pankhurst s side whilst Fred was the Godfather who stood bail for a thousand women. Both were imprisoned and force-fed. They provided the militant movement with its colours, its home, and much of its vision, and it was their associates who initiated the hunger strike and who brought force-feeding to national attention.

But in 1912 the couple were dramatically ousted from the organisation by the Pankhursts in a move that has often been misrepresented. This book is a portrait of the couple and their relationship with the Pankhursts, and of their inspirational fight, not just for the vote for women, but for freedom and equality across the world. The Pethick-Lawrences were once as well known as the Pankhursts. But they have been neglected by history. This is the first book to give the Pethick-Lawrences the recognition that their part in the fight for the vote deserves, shedding new light on the development of the militant campaign.

It is also the first to address in detail the complexities of the dramatic split with the Pankhursts which has been misunderstood for a hundred years.

I am and always have been hugely fascinated by the Suffragettes and the Suffrage Movement, and I am slowly devouring as many books about that time that I can. I have find that as fascinating some can be, they can be long-winded with over enthused long chapters that even for someone who loves history, can be tiresome to read. I happy to say that this will not put you to sleep, it is a fascinated and enlightening book which really grasped my attention.

This book tells the remarkable story of Emmeline and Frederick Pethic-Lawrence, who were undoubtable a vital part in Suffrage cause, but i believe were a little over shadowed by the mighty and hugely renown Pankurst sisters, yet if it wasn’t for Emmeline and Fred the suffrage movement may not have gone the way it did, as this couple were hugely instrumental for the cause. I will admit that even though i had heard about the Pethick-Lawrence’s, I didn’t know the full extent of their involvement in the fight for equality. As the authors states in this, they seemed to disappear in history behind the more militant and well known fighters.

Emmeline begin to work as Mrs Pankhurst secretary in the WSPU, like the other members Emmeline was a hands on militant member, but unlike a lot of the other members her and Fred were very wealthy. Fred was known as the ‘Godfather’ in the WSPU as he was the man who dug deep in his pockets to bail out the suffragette’s when they were imprisoned, he must have really earned the women’s respect as he was the only man to be given a leadership role in the organisation, which to me shouts just how much power and influence these two had.

As fascinating as they were as a couple, for me it was Fred that really stood out for me, he seemed like a remarkable man. Not only did he actively support his wife, he stood by her, Fred was also an active supporter of the cause himself, he was passionate about equality for everyone, not only for women but he wanted equality for everyone no matter your sex, place in society or race, and I whole heartedly applaud him for that. From reading this he comes across as so passionate and always willing to help the cause and his wife when he could.

This is a fascinating book that goes into great detail about two equally fascinating people who don’t have the recognition for their work and their achievements in the suffrage fight as other individuals do. It is an engaging and very informative book that is brilliantly researched, there is not doubt that the author is deeply passionate about the history, her writing it vivid, it has a real warmth and realism to it that conveys not only the facts, but the authors opinion in a way that engages the reader.

A great book for anyone who is interested in Suffragette history.

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

Suffragette Planners and Plotters is available from Amazon and Pen and Sword.

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#Review | The Lengthening War: The Great War Diary of Mabel Goode by Michael Goode #TheLengtheningWar #GreatWarDiary #MabelGoode @penswordbooks

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Hello, thank you for stopping by! Today, I have the great pleasure to be sharing my review of this gorgeous and insightful book; The Lengthening War; The Great war Diary of Mabel Goode by Michael Goode.

Edited by Michael Goode
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 196
ISBN: 9781473851511

This is a strong narrative of the war, easy to read, mixing news with personal feelings and events (often revealing gap between official news and reality). The diary captures the authors’ growing disillusionment with the war, as it gradually encroaches on her life. The diary starts with great excitement, realizing its importance but expecting a short struggle, blaming treachery and incompetence initially but gets increasingly disheartened and eventually stops in 1916. Entries show growth of total war (seeing ominous Zeppelin’s directly overhead, shelling etc.), experiences of her two brothers in service (their privations and her ‘white-feather’ feelings), personal sacrifice and patriotism, reactions to casualty lists, women entering work (she does various war work), steady collapse of domestic service (Downton angle), reflections on recognizable events such as Lusitania and on the competence of the government.

Also included several poems written by Mabel and a love story in the appendix, giving a complete insight into the diarists life. NB. Mabel and her brothers lived in Germany for some time, meaning they could all speak German and knew ‘the enemy nation’ as many Britons did not.

As soon as I saw this book, I knew I had to read it, it shouted out to me to be read and I am so pleased that I did. I am a bit obsessed with this era, so you can imagine how excited I was when I saw this book, it is not only absolutely gorgeous to look at – it looks so pretty on my bookshelf, not that is not the only reason I chose to review this book, even though that is a bonus.

This is the private diary of a young woman; Mabel Goode, who thought to write down all her thoughts and feelings during the first few years of the great war. With a mixture of Mabel’s own personal views on key events, she gives the reader a vivid and passionate account of what she was experiencing during those harrowing years. The diary starts full of excitement and optimism In 1914, from this part you get a genuine and honest insight into the minds of the ordinary people, what they thought of what was going on, at first it is full of so much optimism that the war would be over by Christmas 1914, a view that was shared by many around the country. She tells of what she is hearing and what is going on at the front, her entry about the soldiers being gassed is harrowing.

For whatever reason her diary stops in 1916, whether this is because she is finding the whole war a strain or whether it was do to with something more personal, we may never know. But what we can take from this is a real sense of the time, for a brief moment we are transported into Mabel’s world of uncertainty, of growing frustration, of her family and of love.

This gives a real insight into her life, of the struggles and chaos which was going on around her, to the simple hope of love. I was completely lost in her words, she was a passionate diarist, there is a lot of emotion on the pages and the reader picks up on those feeling too as you read; from love, confusion, anger, sadness, she lays herself bare and for that we should be eternally thankful as without the likes of Mabel who felt compelled to write about what was going on, we wouldn’t see just how the war effected the ordinary folk.

This book is definitely one that everyone who has any kind of interest in WW1 should read it, it is emotional and real, there is a clarity and vividness that you don’t get from other works. I love how this is laid out too, it’s start with the fact of what Mabel mentioned, followed by her diary. The entire book is thoroughly engrossing, it is an easy book to read, it’s not taxing or overly complicated there is a very warm and loving feeling to it, while reading the diary part of the book it is so clear it is like Mabel is actually standing here telling you her story.

A fabulous addition to the bookshelf and one that I will be pulling off again to read.

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

The Lengthening War can be purchased from Amazon and Pen and Sword.

#Review The Life Of A Smuggler – Fact and Fiction by Helen Hollick #The LifeOfASmuggler #FactandFiction #HelenHollick @penswordbooks

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Brandy for the parson, baccy for the clerk…’ We have an image, mostly from movies and novels, of a tall ship riding gently at anchor in a moonlit, secluded bay with the ‘Gentleman’ cheerfully hauling kegs of brandy and tobacco ashore, then disappearing silently into the night shadows to hide their contraband from the excise men in a dark cave or a secret cellar.

But how much of the popular idea is fact and how much is fiction? Smuggling was big business – it still is – but who were these derring-do rebels of the past who went against paying taxes on the importation of luxury goods? Who purchased the illicit contraband? How did smugglers operate? Where were the most notorious locations?

Was it profitable, or just an inevitable path to arrest and the hangman’s noose?

This is an interesting read, I must say that it’s not usually what I would pick up, but I was fascinated and I was pleasantly surprised. Even though it ended up not being how I first imagined to be, as it is a mixture of fact and fiction which I thought was quite a unique approach to a historical book.

I really liked how the author interlaced the fact with the fiction, to create a fun and entertaining book that will satisfy all those who have a real thirst for the smuggling history and tales.

I’ve not read any of Helen Hollick’s work before and even though this particular book wasn’t exactly my cup of tea I would definitely read more of her work. I liked the way she wrote this, her voice is strong and there is a real passion for the subject within her words.

This is an enlightening book, there is a lot in it that will capture the imagination of a bygone era, the stories of the old pirates it utterly fascinating and definitely my favourite parts of the whole book. But, I did think that at times it did prove a taxing read where I did have to put it down for a few days and go back to it later. Even though the actual book itself is quite light, I thought I lot of the writing was a little heavy. I think the fictional side to the book is far stronger than that of the factual side, which is just far more engaging.

Over all this is will appeal for those who like the mix of fact and fiction, and off course the history of Smuggling.

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

The Life Of A smuggler can be found at Amazon and Pen and Sword.

#Review A History Of Cadbury by Diane Wordsworth @DMWordsworth #AHistoryOfCadbury #Historical #NonFiction @penswordbooks

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When John Cadbury came to Birmingham in 1824, he sold tea, coffee and drinking chocolate in a small shop on Bull Street. Drinking chocolate was considered a healthy alternative to alcohol, something Cadbury, a Quaker, was keen to encourage.

In 1879, the Cadburys moved to Bournville and created their ‘factory in a garden’ – an unprecedented move. It is now ironic that today’s Bournville is surrounded by that urban sprawl the Cadburys were so keen to get away from.

This book looks at some of the social impact this company has had since its inception, both on the chocolate and cocoa business in general and on the community at large, both within and without the firm of Cadbury.

In 2024, Cadbury’s will be celebrating 200 years of the first store opening. This is the story of how the company began, how it grew, and how they diversified in order to survive

This book is a chocolate lovers dream!! After all who doesn’t love chocolate? If there is people out there in the big wide world who choose not to like chocolate, then they are definitely not amongst my sphere…I cannot think of anything worse then disliking chocolate! How can you not like Cadbury’s Roses? Or Dairy Milk? Surely that is a mortal sin? Anyway enough of my waffling, I need to tell you about this wonderfully delicious book – a book which was consumed along with – yes, you got it; Chocolate!

So for all those – in opinion – odd people out there who have a thing against chocolate and I am not talking about people with allergies or diabetics then maybe this not be the book for you, but saying that this is all about the glorious history of the firm – and not just the sweet stuff!

The book documents the entire history of this much loved company, I think everyone has fond memories associated with Cadbury chocolate and it was fascinating to read into it’s history. From it’s small start as a tea shop in Bull Street, Birmingham set up by John Cadbury in 1824, John was from a Quaker family and he was also an advocate for temperance which is why he chose to go down the chocolate path – and aren’t we all pleased he did? His tea shop was a hit especially as he sold hot chocolate but it wasn’t until the firm was passed to his son’s that the Cadbury name was really established. His son’s Richard and George had real vision, they saw an opening in the market, they knew with a little tweaking that their business could be a success – honestly these lads had smart heads on their shoulders.

What I particularly like about this book is that Ms Wordsworth really educates the reader not just in the history of the firm itself, but with the people. From reader this it is obvious that the Cadbury’s unlike other employer’s at the time genuinely cared for their workers’, they cared about the workers needs and most important they genuinely cared for their workers health and helping them progress in life and I found that far more fascinating then the history of the business.

Ms Wordsworth does a wonderful job at walking the reader through the many changes in the Cadbury history, right from those very early days, right to Cadbury’s lofty heights and back again to now and how it has changed with being apart of Kraft. The writer has obviously done considerable research and that passion for the subject comes through her writing.

This is a great little read and highly recommend not just for those who love their chocolate but also it is a fascinating insight into a family who strove to create a business that would last throughout the years.

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

A History of Cadbury can be purchased from Amazon and Pen and Sword.

#Review The Scandal Of George III’s Court by Catherine Curzon @MadameGilflurt #TheScandalOfGeorgeIIIsCourt #Georgian #History #NonFiction @PenSwordBooks

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I have the pleasure to share with you all my review of The Scandal Of George III’s Court by the hugely talented Catherine Curzon, grab a cup of tea and maybe a biscuit and delve into to some scandalous Georgian history.

From Windsor to Weymouth, the shadow of scandal was never too far from the walls of the House of Hanover. Did a fearsome duke really commit murder or a royal mistress sell commissions to the highest bidders, and what was the truth behind George III’s supposed secret marriage to a pretty Quaker? With everything from illegitimate children to illegal marriages, dead valets and equerries sneaking about the palace by candlelight, these eyebrow-raising tales from the reign of George III prove that the highest of births is no guarantee of good behaviour. Prepare to meet some shocking ladies, some shameless gentlemen and some politicians who really should know better. So tighten your stays, hoist up your breeches and prepare for a gallop through some of the most shocking royal scandals from the court of George III’s court. You’ll never look at a king in the same way again…

Well, this is an eye opener for sure! Whatever you originally thought of the Georgian Court will be completely shadowed by the reality of what went on within this scandalous family. And what a family, phew their exploits made me shattered just reading about them. If you think the Borgia’s were scandalous, wait until you meet the Georgians, this lot were in a league of their own.

I have been reading Catherine Curzon’s work for a few years now and I have loved every word she has written, but I am ashamed to say this is the first of her non-fiction books I have. What! How can that be? Definitely a lapse on my part, which will be rectified!

This reveals the scandals that went on though the court of King George III, and believe me this lot were a hoot. With ‘unsuitable’ marriage, a flurry of mistresses and illegitimate children popping up all over the show, secret marriages, heir sand the spares running around causing scandal at every turn plus a whiff of murder. This family was doing it all, you see this is what happens when TV hasn’t been invented yet, people get up to all sorts.

I love the way this is written, the history side is backed up with sources which are easily accessible for everyone (Check out the bibliography for a list of research sites and books which can be accessed) and then there is the notes in the back which are very illuminating and gives further background to each of the chapters. The thing that I particularly love about this, and what kept me glued and turning the pages was Ms Curzon’s incredibly entertaining writing style, there is a real wit which at times had me giggling away into my cuppa – I did get a few odd looks from the family 😉 especially while reading the ‘Carry On Cumberland’ chapter, which is one of my favourite chapters. So good!

Another of my favourite chapters, has got to be ‘Perdita And Pickle’ which is all about two Drury Lane actresses; Mary Darny Robinson and Dora Jordan – anyone who knows me or follows my posts won’t be surprised that I became completely and utterly engaged with a chapter all about two women who in all essence were regular women forging a path for themselves. I loved this chapter and getting to know these two fascinating women, especially Dora, who knew that she wasn’t an absolute beauty until you saw her legs. She chose to wear breeches – yes, I know, scandalous and you will have to read the book to find out why, but I do I like this lass.

Overall, this is a brilliant! The writing – which is of no surprise given this is Ms Curzon we are talking about, is flawless. It’s fun, engaging, ridiculously addictive and thoroughly entertaining. It’s a history lesson, but not at all like yawning though an old school lesson where the teacher drones on and you fall asleep right at the good bit, no! This is something between Horrible Histories, Time Team (Don’t judge, I know what I’m on about) and a Lucy Worsley documentary (I know wrong era, but you get the drift). This one of those books which once you start, you won’t stop until you turn the last page. When that happens you’ll feel rather out of sorts and wondering where your next Georgian Scandal fix is coming from. Do you think we should start of a GA meeting? ‘Georgians Anonymous’ for all of us who are now addicted to this rather scandalous era of British history.

Scandalously brilliant and thoroughly recommended for everyone who just loves a romp through history.

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

The Scandal Of George III’s Court can be purchased from Amazon and Pen and Sword Books.

#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 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.