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Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I have been away recently and I am going to find it a bit difficult to write often because of travelling between two places. I will do the best that I can to make my posts as frequent as possible.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Passages to the Past's Book Giveaway

Amy at Passages to the Past has a great prize. This book is called 'Royal Blood' by Rona Sharon and it looks great. Here is the link: Book Giveaway

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Books Read During May

Learning by Heart by Elizabeth McGregor

I enjoyed this moving and tender story about a mother hiding dark family secrets and a daughter trying to cope with an unfaithful husband. The descriptions of Italy were especially evocative. The novel was very cliched in parts, which was a bit annoying.

I exchanged this for Rhett Butlet's People so I'm quite pleased!

An Antarctic Affair by Emma McEwin

When Douglas Mawson endured the horrors of his Far Eastern Sledging Journey in Antarctica his love for his beautiful fiancee spurred him on. Paquita, the daughter of the founder of BHP, was a well-educated, cultured young woman who impressed the great explorer. They fell in love but waited until Mawson returned from Antarctica to marry - this took much longer than they thought because Mawson had to wait an extra year.

This is a moving love story by Mawson's great grand-daughter and an excellent account of Mawson's explorations. Sir Douglas Mawson achieved a great deal for Australia. His scientific achievements alone would be enough, but it is due to him that Australia is recognised as having the greatest territorial claim to Antarctica. (All territorial claims are suspended, however, due to The Antarctic Treaty.) He had a terrible time in Antarctica - enduring Ninnis's and Mertz's deaths - and having to cope with blizzards, crevasses, dreadful winds, his dog's deaths and many other ordeals. He worried that by the time he came back Paquita would find him very different and end the engagement.

Paquita was much younger than Mawson. This book shows how she grew up during the time Mawson was away and how she coped with the trauma of the long-distance love-affair.


I didn't think that my interests in Anna Pavlova and Antarctic explorers would have anything in common. I was surprised to learn then that Anna Pavlova christened The Aurora and that the explorers named a huskie after her!

Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey

A changeling child, family feuds, illegitimate children - the riveting story of the decline of the extremely wealthy Fitzwilliam family includes all these and more. Dark secrets abound in the history of this family. Many of the members were rather unlikeable. tells how the family disappeared from prominence and why the beautiful Wentworth House, which is twice as long as Buckingham Palace, is now owned by an ageing recluse.

The Fitzwilliam family made their money from coal-mining and the sad tales of the miner's poverty and degradation takes up much of the book. The family, to give them credit, was unusually good to them - at least compared with other mine-owners. This part of the book was interesting, but quite horrific so be prepared!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Roxana Freed!

She is not really free, but she is out of jail and Iran. I am glad that Roxana Saberi, the Iranian-American journalist accused of spying on Iran has finally had her sentence reduced, and that she is able to go back to America. She recently ended her hunger-strike and is now very weak. There is some suggestion that her case has been used to appeal to the hard-liners who don't want to make any concessions or agreements with America. Many of the ordinary people of Iran are upset about the dire state of the economy so the extremists felt that jailing Saberi may help their cause. You can read more about her case at: Free Roxana.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Victorian Reading Challenge

I've finished the first book for this challenge!

Becoming Queen
by Kate Williams was a very enjoyable, fast-paced read about the wild Princess Charlotte Augusta and the young Princess Victoria. Williams keeps this story interesting and is especially good when describing Victoria's struggles with her mother and John Conroy. I was sorry to finish this book and I'm looking forward to reading William's other books.

Queen Victoria Was Amused by Alan Hardy

I didn't quite finish this. This collection of amusing anecdotes shows that Queen Victoria had a good sense of humour, loved to dance and was quite broad-minded. She even danced Scottish reels at 72! This book became a bit repetitive, however.

I am reading American Jennie by Anne Seba at the moment.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Alumni Book Fair Acquisitions

The Alumni Book Fair of my university is a great place to find books. Even rare and signed books are available there. Boxes of books are available on the last day for only $12.00. It's held every two years - it used to be held every year. I've still got at least one book that I bought there at least twenty years ago! The one that I can find is Unquiet Souls by Angela Lambert. Just wonderful, although I am not sure that I agree with her about the pointlessness of the First World War.

These are mostly about royalty and history:

Elizabeth and Alexandra by Anthony Lambton. This is about the two Hesse sisters. One became the last Tsarina and the other married a Russian Duke. Both died tragic deaths. This will suit my Romanov obsession!

Victoria and Disraeli: The Making of a Romantic Partnership by Theo Aronson: I like Aronson's style and this will fit nicely into the Victorian Reading Challenge.

The Prince and I by Rosemarie Buschow
: Buschow was a nanny for a Saudi prince. Her story ended in tragedy when a royal princess was executed for adultery.

With Love by Theodora Fitzgibbon: Fitzgibbon lived a bohemian life in Paris just before the Second World War.

Nelson: The Hero and the Lover
by Harry Edgington: I am interested in any book about Lord Nelson.

Violets for the Emperor
by de Caraman-Chimay: This is a biography of Louise de Mercy-Argenteau in the Paris of the Second Empire.

A Kingdom by the Sea
by Nancy Phelan: I've read this before and found this story of a Sydney childhood enchanting.

The British Monarchy at Home by James Frere: An expose of the monarchy!

The Russian Revolution by Alan Moorehead
: An Australian historian's classic book about the Revolution.

Queen Victoria Was Amused
by Alan Hardy: Supposed to be very funny.

The Kemble Era by Linda Kelly: This is about great actors of the eighteenth century.

The Sweet and Twenties by Beverly Nichols: A book about the Roaring Twenties.

Discovering London
: Four books about finding historical London. They're quite small.

I bought a box so there are more, but I'm getting tired. I'll leave them for the next post!