Pen and Sword Books

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

Posted on

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.

Advertisements

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

Posted on

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

Posted on

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

Posted on Updated on

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

Posted on

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