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Search tags: British-history
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text 2017-08-22 12:43
Bosworth and the Brandons

We will hear a lot today about Richard III and Henry VII at Bosworth, and rightly so, but I chose to take a look at the Brandons, who were also deeply impacted by the events of August 22nd.

 

Source: samanthawilcoxson.blogspot.com/2017/08/bosworth-and-brandons.html
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review 2017-08-17 20:32
How to be a Victorian
How to Be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life - Ruth Goodman

How to be a Victorian, like Ruth Goodman's How to be a Tudor, which I read in January, is a fine study of a foreign country - in this case the Britain of roughly 150 years ago.

 

It is filled with strange, often horrifying or amusing details. For example, that genteel ladies might want to take exercise, but were deathly afraid of being caught at it.  (Their solution was to either take long walks, with a package under their arm, to suggest *really* being out on a charitable - and thus socially acceptable - errand, or to perform calisthenics, which would not disturb their movable wombs, in fashionable suits in the privacy of their own bedrooms.)  That doctors were not against corsets, but only "tight lacing," which some particularly fashion-obsessed ladies used to reduce their waists to as little as 13 inches.  That a large proportion of the population, most or some of the time, were hungry, and their nutrition was actually made worse by the rise of the Temperance movement.  (The lure of the cities, even of their slums, was that you might eat better than poor in the countryside.  Even if that "better" wasn't very good.)

 

It is also an excellent study of why regulations are a necessary part of society, for the protection of all of us.  We want laws saying we can't be forced by our employers to work 12 or more hours a day.  We want laws mandating safety equipment in factories.  We want laws saying the makers of food and drugs can't lie in advertisements about what's in their products, and sell us watered chalk as milk, and opium as a safe and gentle herbal baby care treatment.  We want laws preventing industrialists from hiring six-year-olds as coal miners.  Because the Victorians had to fight for each and every one of those protections.

 

Let's not forget them, or their achievements.

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review 2017-08-10 13:28
The Merchant's Tale by Ann Swinfen
The Merchant's Tale (Oxford Medieval Mysteries Book 4) - Ann Swinfen
I look forward to each addition to Swinfen's Oxford mysteries series, and this installment did not disappoint. Occurring just weeks after The Huntsman's Tale , the story of lovable Nicholas Elyot carries on seamlessly. Now we find ourselves returned to Oxford in time for the St Frideswide's Fair, where some people have nefarious deeds in mind.

Nicholas is emboldened enough to begin pressing his suit with the lovely Emma and I felt the squeeze of my heart just as I would if two people I personally knew were finally discovering that they were perfect for one another. Mild mannered Nicholas proved that he can be a charming romantic at times, such as when convincing Emma that he would walk her home. 'There is no need, Nicholas. I shall be quite safe with the others.' 'You will be even safer with me.' Be still my heart.

I am also enjoying the development of other characters and relationships. For example, it is fun watching Nicholas' daughter Alysoun become a young woman. 'Alysoun looked pleased and slightly smug, finding herself part of Margaret's armed forces against the incompetent world of men.'

If it takes Nicholas and his comrades ridiculously long to determine just who could be the target of a mysterious murderer using the fair as his cover, this can be forgiven because the reader is treated to more exquisite views of daily life in 14th century Oxford. The challenges of gathering fruit and preparing food, the excitement and dangers of the fair, the struggles of a business owner falling under the rules of the Church, and much more make this novel a joy to read for the way it truly transports the reader back in time.

This is a series that is put at the top of my TBR as soon as a new book is released. I wonder when book 5 will be arriving, because I don't believe for a moment that Nicholas is 'once again a humble Oxford bookseller and glad to be done with high drama.' I have a feeling that mysterious events will find you again, dear Nicholas.
 

 

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review 2017-08-09 21:09
Scatterwood by Piers Alexander
Scatterwood - Piers Alexander
I chose this book because it seemed interesting enough to force me out of my normal areas of reading. The late 17th century setting was compelling, taking the reader from the streets of London to the plantations and mountains of Jamaica. The author clearly has a passion for the history that is the basis for this novel, and I enjoyed the authenticity of the story.

Unlike many novels that romanticize their setting, Scatterwood delves deep into the horrors of the slave trade, indentured servitude, and early sugar plantation work. Some scenes made me cringe and hope that no person had truly had to suffer such indignities (knowing full well that they did). From devilish overseers to swarms of biting insects, the trials of our protagonist, a man blackmailed into indentured servitude with an impossible mission to accomplish, are brought to life.

I do feel that I would have had a bit of an easier time following the action and keeping track of the cast of characters had I first read The Bitter Trade, which introduces them. Everyone is brought onto the scene in this book as though the reader should already know them, and the action happens so quickly that I sometimes found myself a bit lost. However, for those looking for a fast-paced adventure that reveals some dark aspects of history, this book is a great choice.

3.5 stars. I received this book through NetGalley. Opinions are my own.
 
 

 

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text 2017-08-07 21:53
Plantagenet Embers Kindle Box Set

Remember helping me with this cover? Well, it's finally here! This project, which I thought would be simple since it involved books I had already written, turned out to be almost too much for my level of tech savvy. Still, it is here in time to be taken to the beach this summer! Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen!

 

Source: myBook.to/PlantagenetEmbers
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