Frequently Auto-Approved
Reviews Published Challenge Participant

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Long Weekend Life in the English Country House, 1918-1939 Adrian Tinniswood

This is a thoroughly researched and well-written account by Adrian Tinniswoodabout this era.  Although the aristocracy lost many of their sons in the war and several great houses were sold and turned into institutions such as schools, this is not entirely a tale of woe.  Lots of new country houses were built and some of these even had surprisingly modern architecture and new traditions were formed to replace the rigidly formal old ones

There are some interesting anecdotes in this book.  For example, Buckingham Palace was built because the Prince Regent wanted a pied a'terre and Queen Alexandra insisted on staying at the large house at Sandringham and made King George stay in the much smaller York house with his family of six. He didn't have the heart to make her leave! However, there is much more focus on the architecture and interior design of the houses than on the people who lived there, I thought.  I would have liked to read more about the people.

This is a good book to read if you are interested in the English country house during this time.
I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Rosetta A Scandalous True Story by Alexandra Joel

(Empress Eugenie painted by Winterhalter, Wikipedia)

This intriguing story of Alexandra Joel's 'wicked' great-grandmother reads like a novel.  It's a fascinating Edwardian tale.

Beautiful dark-eyed Rosetta broke every social convention in Edwardian Australia by leaving her husband and daughter for an oriental fortune-teller.  Unhappily married, Rosetta immediately fell for the charming exotic half-Chinese Zeno and her new life began... They worked at Sydney's amazing Wonderland City for a while, but true success came when they 'ran off' to London where Zeno pretended to be a Japanese professor and started rejuvenating radiation treatments and Rosetta pretended to be an American! These treatments became popular with aristocrats such as Lady Diana Cooper and even royalty. Princess Charlotte of Prussia and even former Empress Eugenie were clients.

Joel combines this tale with the details of her detective-like search for Rosetta in a moving way. Questions about her great-grandmother remained in the back of her mind, and she felt that the fact that Rosetta had deserted her only child was part of her identity so one day she decided to search for the truth...

I just loved this book. This is highly recommended for lovers of biography and history.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Blackstone And The Rendezvous With Death

Blackstone, a Scotland Yard detective, feels that he is somewhat out of his depth when he has to deal with the death of a young aristocrat. Why is Charles's sister the only one who appears to care about him? What has her fiancée got to do with it? What is the involvement of the Russians?

This is an excellent mystery with likeable characters, a vivid Victorian atmosphere and interesting details of London's Little Russia. Sally Spencer also examines the class-consciousness of the age in this well-written novel which is part of the Endeavour Press Virtual History Festival .

Monday, April 18, 2016

Villa Normandie by Kevin Doherty

A French Resistance leader who has to cope with the death of her brother and two rebellious daughters, a priest who tries to mediate between the Nazis and the villagers and an archeologist who never fails in his missions to France. These are the main characters in Doherty's wonderful thriller which captures the tense atmosphere of the run-up to D-Day and the misery of the French villagers with lyrical writing.

Even though this novel is very long, it is always exciting and it even has some added history about archeology which I enjoyed. It is extremely harrowing, however, so be prepared for that.

I was given this free book by Endeavour Oress in exchange for an honest review because I joined their Virtual Historical Festival.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Virtual History Festival

Sign up to Endeavour Publishing's Virtual history Festival and win competitions and enjoy free ebooks, including biographies and historical novels.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Paris Is Always A Good Idea by Nicholas Barreau

After Robert Sherman's mother dies, he is at a loose end. He doesn't want to work as a lawyer for the family firm and he is pretty tired of his nagging girlfriend. When he is offered a job in Paris, he remembers his mother saying that ''Paris is always a good idea'. However, he turns up only to find that his story has been plagiarised!

Rosalie Laurent, a pretty young postcard-shop owner thinks that her financial crisis is over when she illustrates 'The Blue Tiger' but now she is confronted by this mad American who says that the story is stolen!

This is an enchanting, fairy-tale like novel, redolent of the atmosphere of Paris, with lovely characters. I love Nicholas Barreau's books!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Girl's Got To Breathe. The Life of Teresa Wright by Donald Spoto

No one who has seen Teresa Wright's performance as the daughter in The Little Foxes  could ever forget it. She was rewarded for her gift at a young age when she won an Academy Award in her twenties.

Wright was a born actress and showed her talent at school. She had to overcome a dreadful childhood to get anywhere at all, apparently. Her mother was a prostitute and deserted her when she was very little. Her father was largely absent but he sent her to a good school. This trial made Teresa Wright tough which helped her in her career. Surprisingly, it didn't make her bitter and she was a lovely person and extremely kind and mentoring.

This book is an interesting analysis of Wright's career and her personal life. It is recommended for anyone interested in old Hollywood.

I received this book free fromNet Galley in exchange for an honest review.