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.

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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.

Review – Sexuality And It’s Impact on History; The British Stripped Bare

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Sexuality and it’s Impact on History; The British Stripped Bare

by

Hunter S. Jones, Emma Haddon-Wright, Jessica Cale, Judith Arnopp, Gayle Hulme, Dr. Beth Lynne and Annie Whitehead

Would you swig a magic potion or plot to kill your husband in order to marry your lover? These are just two of the many romantic and sexual customs from British history that you will explore as eight authors take us through the centuries, revealing that truth is stranger than fiction when it comes to love. From bizarre trivia about courtly love, to techniques and prostitution, you ll encounter memorable nuggets of provocative information that you’ll want to share. It’s all here: ménage a trois, chastity belts, Tudor fallacies, royal love and infidelity, marriage contracts (which were more like business arrangements), brothels, kept women, and whorehouses.

Take a peek at what really happened between the sheets. Each story provides you with shocking detail about what was at the heart of romance throughout British history. Sexuality and Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare chronicles the pleasures and perils of the flesh, sharing secrets from the days of the Anglo-Saxons, medieval courtly love traditions, diabolical Tudor escapades including those of Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots the Regency, and down to the prudish Victorian Era. This scholarly yet accessible study brings to light the myriad varieties of British sexual mores.

My View

As soon as I got offered the chance to review this book, I jumped at it. True it’s not my usual reading material but I was intrigued by the premise of this book, it caught my attention. I do like how very easy to read this is, I have read history compilations before that I found very difficult to connect with and hard to follow, due to the amount of scholarly wording. But this is beautifully written so that everyone can enjoy it. You don’t have to be a scholar or someone with a hundred A level’s in history to be able to enjoy it, I can guarantee that if you enjoy learning about less known aspects of history then this is the book. I am so pleased that I got the chance to read it, it is way beyond my expectations.

This is a fascinating compilation of stories written by seven incredible female writers who know their craft well, they come together to tell seven stories of how sexuality and the varied custom’s over eras has influenced British History. With a look into all aspects of sexual history including tales of Lady Godiva, Medieval love traditions, shocking tales from the Tudor court and prostitution during the Victorian era.

Each section is carefully crafted and cleverly written, it enriches the mind and this whole book is hugely satisfying, knowledgeable and highly addictive to read. Each chapter is a different story and written by a different author, and as such it keeps the reader engrossed and you are compelled to keep turning the pages to see what comes next and see what new little titbit from history you will garner. Each tale is fascinating to read, they are thorough and wonderfully researched that keeps the whole thing very real and adds to the enjoyment that you get from the overall book.

There isn’t anything I don’t like about it, it has something from every aspect of history. It is a wonderful read that captivates you and keeps you turning the page.

Hugely recommended!

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sexuality and its Impact on History is available now and can be purchased from

Amazon / Pen & Sword Books