Pen and Sword Books
#Review | Literary Trails: Haworth And The Bronte’s by Catherine Rayner & David F Walford #LiteraryTrails #HowarthAndTheBrontes #Yorkshire @penswordbooks
Hello everyone, I have the great pleasure to be sharing my review of Literary Trails : Howarth and the Bronte’s by Catherine Raynor and David F Walford, so sit back grab a cuppa and enjoy.
This light-hearted but deeply researched book offers interest and guidance to walkers, social historians and lovers of the Bronte family; their lives and works. Set in and around the town of Haworth it gives a dual introduction to walkers and lovers of literature who can explore this unique area of Yorkshire and walk in the footsteps of those who knew and loved this town and its moorlands two hundred years ago.
With guided tours around special buildings as well as outdoor walks and the history of people and places who lived and worked in Haworth over centuries, it offers an insight into life and death in the melee of the Industrial Revolution.
Its joint authors have combined their lifelong interests in Victorian literature and social history with writing, walking, photography and cartography and have included quotes from Bronte poetry and novels.
What a wonderful book this is, it’s not what I usually feature on the blog, but I was fascinated by the look of this book. I love the Bronte’s, I love Yorkshire and even though I haven’t been able to see as much of my glorious county as I would have liked to, so books like this are a brilliant way for me to really see just how mesmerising and beautiful my home county is, and as it incorporates my love of walking and the Bronte’s this is the perfect read and if I get the chance to do one of these Literary walks, this book will certainly be going with me.
To be perfectly honest this is the first I have heard about literary walks – it’s true I live in a bubble 😉 – the whole idea appeals to me, to go out and walk in the footsteps of these great authors, as I am unable to go off and wander around Bronte county at the moment, this book really appealed to me and gave me the same experience from my armchair as it is packed full of interesting history of the area and off course the Bronte’s, there are some truly beautiful picture’s and vivid maps that can ignite the imagination and have you walking the routes in your mind.
Each walk/chapter is laid out in practically the same way, there is a structured detailing of the walk itself, general information that all walkers will find useful such as the terrain and levels of difficulty on each walk and facilities plus maps and photographs.
This is a lovely little book, which I found to be very insightful and informative there is a real personal element to it too as the authors give a glimpse into their own loves of the area and their invaluable knowledge of not just Howarth but of the Bronte’s themselves.
If your off on a trek to beautiful Bronte country then this is a must to have in your backpack, and if your like me who can’t make the trip in person, then sit back and enjoy a virtual walk, either way this is a must read for everyone who loves the Bronte’s and my birth place of Yorkshire.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher, which I voluntarily reviewed, thank you Rosie. x
#Review | Balloonomania Belles: Daredevil Divas Who First Took To The Sky by Sharon Wright #BalloonmaniaBelles #WomensHistory @TheSharonAgency @penswordbooks
Hello my lovely friends, I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of Balloonmaina Belles; Daredevil Diva’s Who First Took To The Sky by Sharon Wright, so grab a cuppa and prepare to be shocked and inspired.
Balloonomania Belles reveals the astonishing stories of the fabulous female pioneers of balloon flight. More than a century before the first airplane women were heading for the heavens in crazy, inspired contraptions that could bring death or glory and all too often, both. Award-winning journalist Sharon Wright reveals their hair-raising adventures in a book that brings the stories of the feisty female ballooning heroines together for the first time.
Women were in the vanguard of the “Balloonomania” craze that took hold in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and swept across Europe then the world. Their exploits were a vital element of our first voyages into the sky. When women’s options were often severely limited by law and convention they managed to join the exhilarating quest for spectacle, adventure and danger among the clouds.
Many of the brightest stars of this extraordinary era of human flight were women. From the perilous ascent in 1784 by feisty French teenager Elisabeth Thible, female aeronauts have never looked back… or down. Who were these brave women who took to the air when it was such an incredibly dangerous and scandalous thing to do? Sharon Wright brings together in one book the show-stopping stories of the very first flying women.
What an education this book was, I had no idea that women were so deeply hands on when it came to balloon aviation, I am absolutely amazed. These women were seriously brave, the thought of climbing into the basket of one the original hot air balloon’s without knowing if you were going to come plummeting to the ground is incredible, these women are inspirational – a little bonkers, but ultimately inspiring. You wouldn’t get me in a hot air balloon now, let alone one of those rickety original efforts.
I haven’t read any of Ms Wrights work before, I’m not sure why – I must walk around with my eyes shut – but I will definitely be seeking out her back catalogue and look forward to discovering more from this wonderful author.
The book is put together in chronological order, there are so many great women featured in this, I love the story of Letitia Sage who refused to get out of one of Lunardi’s balloon’s no matter how much he tried, she stood her ground and made sure that she was the first woman to fly in a balloon, I love that she sounds like such a fun and feisty woman. My heart was in my mouth and I had tears in my eyes when I read about the tenacious Sophie Blanchard who was fearless, she was one of the bravest women I have ever read about, she was terribly shy but what she lacked in social skills she made up for in courage, this plucky woman was in charge of the ballooning displays for none other then Napoleon she was a connoisseur of night time displays that is until one of her balloons caught fire and plummeted to the earth sending her into the history books. There are plenty more within in the pages of this book, these two ladies are just two of my favourites I could talk about all of the woman in the book, but I would probably run out of page room.
What is obvious when you read this is that all these women who were such major part of how the hot air balloon became what we know them today, have been air brushed in a fashion from history, their heroism and bravery have gone unmentioned for too long. Now finally we know their stories, we know that these wonderful women weren’t just pretty assistants only taken on board for something nice to look at, oh, no these women were centre stage and we have to thank Sharon Wright for bringing this fabulous women and their dare devil stories to our attention.
I love how easy on this eye this book is, the cover is so eye-catching and it hint at the fabulously fun stories within. Ms Wright has a fabulous writing style, it’s fun and entertaining, the history of the women featured in this book is right here for you to delve into, yet it’s not in your face or heavy that you fall asleep mid chapter. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, it’s lively and captivating, full of rich and vivid historic detail and beautiful pictures that gives the book a whole lighter and engaging tone, which makes this wonderfully easy to read.
If you love your aeronautical history and brilliantly plucky and fascinating women then this is the book you need to read, I think it is fabulous.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher, which I voluntarily reviewed, thank you Rosie. X
#Review | All Things Georgian; Tales From The Long Eighteenth Century by Joanne Major & Sarah Murden #AllThingsGeorgian #History @sarahmurden @joannemajor3 @penswordbooks
Hello my lovely readers! Today I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of this amazing book; All Things Georgian by Joanne Major and Sarah Murden, if you love a bit of scandalous Georgian’s then look no further, so grab a cuppa – or a iced drink, it is a wee bit hot out today and enjoy.
Take a romp through the long eighteenth-century in this collection of 25 short tales. Marvel at the Queen s Ass, gaze at the celestial heavens through the eyes of the past and be amazed by the equestrian feats of the Norwich Nymph. Journey to the debauched French court at Versailles, travel to Covent Garden and take your seat in a box at the theatre and, afterwards, join the mile-high club in a new-fangled hot air balloon.
Meet actresses, whores and high-born ladies, politicians, inventors, royalty and criminals as we travel through the Georgian era in all its glorious and gruesome glory.
In roughly chronological order, covering the reign of the four Georges, 1714-1830 and set within the framework of the main events of the era, these tales are accompanied by over 100 stunning colour illustrations.
What a brilliant romp through the Georgian world, this is a fun, easy to read book all about an era that in itself could be construed as fun a lot of the time. The writing is clear, entertaining and knowledgeable, there is a real fun, energetic and carefree feel to this which a lot of that is down to the fact that Sarah and Joanne are hugely passionate about this era, so much so that you literally fall into the Georgia era through the pages, add in the beautiful colour pictures that run through the book and you have a real feast for the senses.
I love how this is written, it is made up of a selection of short stories; so it’s not bombarding you with page after page of facts and figures, but gives you a short story and history lesson of each chapters particular subject, which personally I do prefer this way of reading nonfiction it, keeps it light and fun and will keep you reading.
I like how the authors lean heavily towards the women of the era instead of just focusing on men’s accomplishments, there are so many great little stories in this, I can guarantee there is something for everyone. I particularly enjoyed the more obscure stories such as the smuggler queen chapter; which was hugely fascinating, the story about Alicia Massingham the female jockey; was enlightening and off course the hot air balloon ride was brilliant and eye- opening chapter, one that has made me want to learn more and then there is the story of Jenny Cameron; who dressed as a man and fought along side her husband at the battle of Culloden.
Another thing that I really liked about this is that the book isn’t made up of royals and aristocrat’s, there are stories about real and normal people who achieved something great, these are people who have been cast into the shadows of history, so I did like that. What I got from this is that the Georgian era was far more innovative then I originally thought, this book was definitely full of surprises.
Over all this is a fabulous read, highly recommended, no matter what you read, if you love your history then you will all find something in the book to love.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie.
#Review : Suffragette Planners And Plotter; The Pankhurts/Pethick- Lawrence Story by Kathryn Atherton #SuffragettePlannersandPlotters #NonFiction @penswordbooks
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.
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
#Review | The Lengthening War: The Great War Diary of Mabel Goode by Michael Goode #TheLengtheningWar #GreatWarDiary #MabelGoode @penswordbooks
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.
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
#Review : Great British Family Names And Their History: Whats In A Name? By John Moss #GreatBritishFamilyNamesAndTheirHistory #FamilyHistory #NonFiction #JohnMoss @penswordbooks
Hello everyone, today I have the pleasure to be sharing my review of Great British Family Names and Their History by John Moss, so if your a avid family researcher like myself then you want to stick around and check out this fabulous book.
For better or worse, what we are is often determined by our family; the events that occurred many years before we were born and the choices that were made by our forebears are our inheritance – we are the inexorable product of family history. So it is with nations. The history of Great Britain has been largely defined by powerful and influential families, many of whose names have come down to us from Celtic, Danish, Saxon or Norman ancestors. Their family names fill the pages of our history books; they are indelibly written into the events which we learned about at school. Iconic family names like Wellington, Nelson, Shakespeare, Cromwell, Constable, De Montfort and Montgomery… there are innumerable others.
They reflect the long chequered history of Britain, and demonstrate the assimilation of the many cultures and languages which have migrated to these islands over the centuries, and which have resulted in the emergence of our language.
This book is a snapshot of several hundred such family names and delves into their beginnings and derivations, making extensive use of old sources, including translations of The Domesday Book and The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, as well as tracing many through the centuries to the present day.
OK, brief confession I did review this book because – and this is rather, selfish of me – I wanted to see if my own ancestors were named in it, after all my family name goes way back to the 1500’s – can you tell, I am on and have been on the family history trail for years? But, alas, my ancestors aren’t significant enough to be placed amongst these great families which are featured in this book. Oh well, we can’t have it all can we?
Anyhow, you don’t want to hear me rabbit on, your hear for a review. So, as you would have gathered from the title this little book is all about British names and their origins, and it is an illuminating read. Its one of those books that you can have on the sideboard or on the book shelf and pull it out and any time, you don’t have to read it in order but flick through it at your own pleasure. Its not a taxing read, in fact I wiled away many hours with this and before I knew it I had devoured it.
I love the layout out of this, its set out in sections for each corner of Britain, and in each section the names from that area or listed alphabetically, which makes navigating the book that much easier especially if you are looking for a particular location of name. If your like me and on the Genealogy trek then this is a must have for any family historians bookcase, even if it is all about the larger more well known and well developed British named. But you will be surprised that you will come across some very well known names and even – like myself – while reading you will go ‘Ooh, I know that name, my second uncles four times removed knew so and so’.
Each name is thoroughly researched, the author has kept their history light but precise so your not bombarded by constant names and facts. I like the brief account of each family name in the book, it is fascinating to read.
This is a must for anyone interested in family history, or specifically British Names and I would be of invaluable use for writers who are looking for a specific family or name to add to their work.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie!
#Review The Life Of A Smuggler – Fact and Fiction by Helen Hollick #The LifeOfASmuggler #FactandFiction #HelenHollick @penswordbooks
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!