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review 2017-07-29 09:35
Oh, I like to be beside the seaside. And I love this book!
The British Seaside (Images Of The Past) - Luci Gosling

My thanks to Pen & Sword for offering me a copy of this book that I freely (and gladly) chose to review.

I discovered Pen & Sword thanks to a writer I had met through blogging and I am regularly kept informed of their new books through their catalogues. Although I don’t have the time to read as many of them as I would like, when I saw this one, I could not resist.

I am not British but I have lived in the UK for almost twenty-five years now. As luck would have it, my first job in the UK was in Eastbourne, and I spent quite a few years in that part of the UK (working in Eastbourne, Hastings, and later studying at Sussex University and living in Brighton for a while). Although my experiences of the British seaside are fairly recent in comparison to the pictures in this book, I am fascinated by the peculiarities of the British seaside. And, over the years, I have listened to many conversations and stories of childhood holidays and memories of happy times spent at a seaside resort or other.  When I saw this book I thought it would be fun, and a perfect way to put images to the stories I had heard and to learn new ones.

Lucinda Gosling, the author, works for the Mary Evans Picture Library (check their website here) and she has done a fantastic job of curating a great variety of images, ranging from personal photographs to postcards and advertisements, from the very late XIX century to the 1960s and 70s. They are mostly in black and white (although there are the odd colour picture and some old hand-coloured ones, some in wonderful sepia, and some colour illustrations) and they go from the funny amateur pic  taken at an amusement fair to some truly beautiful professional pictures (like some by Roger Mayne or Shirley Baker).

There is little text, other than an introduction to each part of the book, which is divided thematically into six chapters, and brief notes to identify the pictures (and on some occasions, to add a bit of background).  Although concise, the writing is excellent, as it manages to be informative, entertaining, and at times truly humorous. There is a great picture of a man (probably in his early forties, in my opinion pretty formally dressed, although he’s not wearing a jacket, so it’s probably rather informal for the period, as it is dated 1911). The description of the picture is as follows:

A relaxed looking chap sitting outside a tent at the Lucas Holiday Camp in Norbreck, Blackpool, 1911. The camp was a ‘summer holiday camp for young men’ and the location of the holidays taken by the wholesome-sounding ‘Health and Strength League’. It was described as ‘a camp for young men of good moral character who are willing to observe a few simple rules necessary for good order’. (p. 102) Your guess is as good as mine. ;)

The chapters cover: the beach (the increase in popularity of first, sea water, later swimming, and even later, sunbathing and tanning), entertainment (once you had all these people there, you had to keep them entertained, and although some of those complexes have disappeared, we still have Blackpool!), crowds and solitude (the touristic and less touristic places), travel and accommodation (once the railway made travelling easier, people flocked to the coast, but there had always been ways to get there, and people who saw an opportunity to set up bed and breakfast, and, of course, the wonderful Victorian hotels that grace many seaside towns), piers & promenades (I love piers and it was sad to read about how many have disappeared, but a joy to recover pictures of some of  them and learn more about their architects), and water (with its fascinating images of the Victorian bathing machines, and the fabulous changes in swimwear).

I am not sure what I could highlight, as I adored (adore, and I’m keeping it for life if I can) this book from beginning to end. I love the pictures of the early seaside tourists, dressed to the nines because it was a day out and you were supposed to wear your best clothes. There is a fabulous pic of a lady riding a tricycle from 1886 (I think it’s the oldest picture in the book), I love the pics of young children, especially those wearing knitted swimming suits. There is also a very touching picture of two young girls holding hands and looking towards the beach, blocked by barb wire during World War II. There are some fabulous images of incredible rides (I’m sure Health and Safety would have a fit), some fascinating pics of beauty contests (oh, how much those vintage swimming suits would fetch today), and much to make think those interested in social history.

I’ve been carrying the book with me and pestering everybody I’ve met, showing them some of my favourite pictures. I even talked about it on the radio programme I host (I know, I know, pictures on the radio…) at a local radio station. Who would I recommend it to? Everybody! For some, it will bring memories, either of things they’ve experienced, or of things they’ve been told, and will help them tell their stories. For others, it will be a compelling slice of social history. If you like the seaside, you must check it out. If you’re interested in social history, you must check it out. If you love pictures and postcards, check it out. If you are intrigued by changes in fashion, transport, entertainment… check it out. If you love donkeys, check it out. Last but not least, if you want me to shut up about it, check it out.

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review 2016-10-27 21:35
Dear Mr. Knightley
Dear Mr. Knightley - Katherine Reay

When the real world becomes too much, or if the real world starts taking things that you love away from you what do you do? Fight against it? Go with the flow? Or would you retreat and hid in a shell? Sometimes it helps when you’re down to have someone there to talk to. To be able to release some of the tension that builds up from too much stress. For some there just isn’t anybody to talk to, like Samantha Moore in the book “Dear. Mr. Knightley” who didn’t have anybody to talk to. No family, hardly any friends, except her fictional characters from her favorite Jane Austin, Charles Dickens books. To Samantha, Elizabeth Bennett, Emma Woodhouse and Fitzwilliam Darcy (or Mr. Darcy) they were her heroes. These characters that have faced tough times in a tough world always had something to say, some type of advice that became the voice for Samantha. But it gets kind of boring when the conversation is one sided.


So when an opportunity of a life-time comes along to go to one of the greatest Journalism colleges with Full Tuition all paid for with one perk: write letters to the anonymous benefactor who calls himself “Mr. Knightley” about Samantha’s progress. To be honest, Samantha was quite skeptical about writing letters to a complete stranger plus she is to never receive letters back. At the start, Samantha almost doesn’t go through with it. But once she found that writing to someone, voicing her days and progresses in school, actually helps her release her tension about school and about life as well seems to bring her out of her shell and be able to face the real world with her OWN voice. Not Elizabeth Bennett’s voice or Mr. Darcy’s voice speaking for her, for this time she’s speaking from her own experience, her own voice and Samantha has found that her voice has something special to say to those around her.


Only question is, is the world ready to hear Samantha’s voice?


A wonderful story about a young woman who all her life lived through tragedy found comfort in her books and stayed hidden for so long she forgot how it feels and mean to live in the real world until an unknown benefactor helps her find her voice through actual letters. Not email, not instant text messages, not even Facebook was what she needed. The actual form of writing letters, mailing them day after day is what helped Samantha come out of her shell. When I was little, my hero at that time was my big brother, Rich. He was always ready for whatever the world tossed at him and always curious of what the world could offer him. He was super excited that his little sister was just as curious as he was, so what does a big brother to do? Send advice, give encouragement and since he lives in another state, letters is how we stayed connected. And we still do to this day. A little Postcard, or a quick letter here or there and that’s how we helped each other get through the hardships that life brought us. If you find that someone who could help you, or haven’t seen/talked to for a while, write a letter to them. You never know, they (or even you) might be living like Samantha Moore, hiding in their shell. You never know. Check out “Dear Mr. Knightley” at your local library.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/910774291
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review 2016-10-09 20:39
Not worth the 2.99 which is the list price
Postcards From Helsinki - Josh White

The bit about the festivals was interesting, but that was about it.

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review 2016-06-28 00:00
Postcards from a War
Postcards from a War - Vanita Oelschlager,Mike Blanc I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
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review 2016-05-18 15:08
Long May She Wave: 100 Stars and Stripes Collectible Postcards

This isn't an actual book. It's a book shaped box full of postcards.




From one of the world's leading graphic designers comes a stunning tribute to America's most enduring icon-the Stars and Stripes.The Revolutionary Congress resolved in 1777 that "the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white, that the Union be 13 white stars in a blue field representing a new constellation." Since that time, the American flag has been raised high in wartime triumph and peacetime celebration; burned in fervent protest; sewn lovingly onto quilts, caps, pillows, and bags; appropriated by the commercial sphere to sell goods as varied as cigars, and designer clothing, and rock-and-roll albums; and faithfully honored every 4th of July to celebrate America's independence. This collection of more than 3,000 Stars and Stripes artifacts ranges from Civil War-era banners and Native American braided moccasins to an early 20th-century "friendship" kimono and original flag art by several of the world's leading designers. In its deluxe format with over 500 illustrations, LONG MAY SHE WAVE gives wide berth to the flag in all its manifestations, and the result is a stunning visual history of America'¬?s most treasured symbol.Full-color throughout, with over 500 illustrations in a deluxe 11 x 14-inch volume-LONG MAY SHE WAVE is the perfect gift for folk-art appreciators, history buffs, and collectors.Features the 3,000-piece exhibit that was displayed at the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the San Jose Museum of Art in 2000. From toy soldiers to collectable spoons, cigar blankets to historic flags—the breadth of the collection is unrivaled.


My Thoughts:


I really, really like this. There are two of each postcard. This is the perfect gift for history buffs and/or book lovers. The box is just big enough to fit the postcards and slides nicely into my book case. The postcards are of nice quality. I had a blast looking at all of the designs. 



I will be purchasing more of these for my father and father-in-law for Christmas. They both very much like mine.


Amazon US


I recieved a copy of this from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. 

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