#BlogTour THE DAISY CHAIN by AL CAMPBELL #BookReview @RedDoorBooks

Delighted to be joining you today as part of the Blog Tour for the wonderful THE DAISY CHAIN by AL CAMPBELL.

My thanks to the author and publisher for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Kew Gardens, 1771. Four women – the first is Daisy, a talented orphaned botanical painter and scientist, newly arrived in London from Suffolk. The second is Fanny, her sister, locked in a loveless marriage with an oafish nobleman. The third, Kate, is an enslaved black lady’s maid. The fourth, Charlotte, Queen of England, uncomplaining but confined to a life bearing King George 15 children.

When Daisy meets eminent scientist Joseph Banks and not only becomes Artist in Residence at Kew Gardens, but ‘Lady-in-Painting’ to Queen Charlotte, life changes for everybody. However, whilst expecting a quiet and studious life, Daisy is unwittingly inveigled into espionage, tea smuggling and the ‘triangular trade’ by mysterious Dutchman Johannes Van der Humm.

When a fabulous flower is discovered in South Africa and sent back to Kew for the Queen’s birthday, the women little guess it offers a route to freedom. But only if Daisy can foil a plot to steal it from under the King’s nose. Who is friend and who is foe? Can she work out whom to trust before disaster strikes?

Set in an incredibly exciting period of history, The Daisy Chain is a pacy debut novel, brimming with adventure and romance.

PUBLISHED BY RED DOOR PRESS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

PUBLISHER WEBSITE SHOP

MY REVIEW

This was a wonderful historical romp! Combining my love of gardening, with some strong female characters, this was an exciting read from start to finish and does a wonderful job of transporting you back in time to a fascinating period of history and takes a look back at some of the excitement while new plants were being discovered, alongside the more questionable events of those years involving slavery.


After the death of her father Daisy has no option but to move to London to live with her sister and her unsufferable husband.  She becomes governess to her niece, but her true love is her artwork and she soon finds her work gets noticed in high places.  One of those being by the director of Kew Gardens who invites her to work for them, cataloguing all the new flowers and plants.


While there she ‘blossoms’ and becomes confidante to a royal visitor and I loved how the women were at the fore of this story!  She also catches the eye of a mystery Dutchman and finds herself wondering just who to trust.. one person definitely not worthy of trust is her sisters’ husband! Awful man!!


This book worked for me on many levels – especially that of the plant links alongside the royal mix!  And the fact that the story ventures into the darker side of life at the time with slavery and smuggling really added to the mix. It also gave a good insight into the excitement of the times with new things being discovered in far off lands and brought to these shores.


An exciting historical debut – looking forward to more from this author in the future!


★★★★

#BookReview THE FAIRY TELLERS by NICHOLAS JUBBER #nonfiction


ABOUT THE BOOK


Fairy-Tales are not just fairy-tales: they are records of historical phenomena, telling us something about how Western civilisation was formed. In The Fairy-Tellers’ Trail, award-winning travel-writer Nick Jubber explores their secret history of fairy-tales: the people who told them, the landscapes that forged them, and the cultures that formed them.

While there are certain names inextricably entwined with the concept of a fairy-tale, such as the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, the most significant tellers are long buried under the more celebrated figures who have taken the credit for their stories – people like the Syrian storyteller Youhenna Diab and the Wild Sisters of Cassel. Without them we would never have heard of Aladdin, his Magic Lamp or the adventures of Hansel and Gretel.

Tracking these stories to their sources carries us through the steaming cities of Southern Italy and across the Mediterranean to the dust-clogged alleys of the Maghreb, under the fretting leaves of the Black Forest, deep into the tundra of Siberia and across the snowy hills of Lapland.

From North Africa and Siberia, this book illuminates the complicated relationship between Western civilization and the ‘Eastern’ cultures it borrowed from, and the strange lives of our long lost fairy-tellers

PUBLISHED BY JOHN MURRAY PRESS

PUBLICATION DATE – 

20TH JANUARY 2022

PRE-ORDER LINKS

KINDLE
AMAZON
BLACKWELL’S

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nick Jubber is an award-winning travel writer. His journeys have taken him to the Ethiopian highlands, the Afghan lowlands, and the heart of the Sahara. Fascinated by history and its relationship with the present, he explores connections – and mis-connections – across the centuries. In his latest book, this fascination carries him across Europe on a journey from Turkey to Iceland. He has been shortlisted three times for the prestigious Stanford Dolman award (and won it for his debut, ‘The Prester Quest’), and has spoken at major literary festivals including Hay-on-Wye, Edinburgh and Cheltenham. His website is http://www.nickjubber.com and he is on twitter at @jubberstravels

MY REVIEW


This is a truly wonderful book about the origins and storytellers behind the most magical fairy tales that we all take for granted! It’s only when I picked this book up that I realised I knew very little, if anything at all, about how they came to be, and about the people that wrote them! So this book has enlightened me in so many ways, and has just made me want to pick up all the old fairy tales I have to enjoy them once more, and see beyond the ‘Disney’ magic and get a bit more of an understanding and deeper sense of the story behind the story! so to speak!

This is a book that covers geography as it takes you all over the world, history as it looks at the goings on around the writers at the time they wrote them, and all the folk tales that inspired the storytellers to put pen to paper and create these wonderful stories that we all know and love so much.

As well as the well known writers who receive all the plaudits for the fairy tales – Hans Christian Andersen and The Brothers Grimm – it also does a wonderful job of introducing the many other brilliant storytellers such as Hanna Diyab (Aladdin and Ali Baba), Dortchen Wild and Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve (Beauty and the Beast) to name but a few, and gives you a real insight into their stories and what inspired or prompted them to write.

You really get a great sense of the extensive research that this author has put into this piece of work. He travels across the globe to find out more about these authors and their backgrounds and showing how often the messages behind these stories are often a lot darker and deeper than they appear on the surface. And I think that is why they work on so many levels to different readers. To a child the stories appear full of magic and wonder, to an adult we see the hidden depths to each tale and notice a lot more going on. Many of the writers had such fascinating and often tragic life stories themselves so you can see the correlation between fact and fiction.

This was a book that has reignited my passion for fairy tales and I’m eager to start picking them up all over again now that I know more about the past of the writers and what led them to create the characters and situations in each tale. A truly fascinating and absorbing piece of writing!


★★★★★

 My thanks to Alice Rowe at The Book Publicist for the advance reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview IT STARTED WITH A PIRATE by KIRSTY FERRY

ABOUT THE BOOK

Coffee, cake and cats …


These are a few of Lexie Farrington’s favourite things, and when she walks into the Thistledean Café in Edinburgh, she’s delighted to find all three: coffee, cake, a big black cat on a purple lead being held by a very grumpy-looking pirate. Okay, maybe she wasn’t quite expecting that one …


Of course, Billy McCreadie isn’t really a pirate; he just knows a lot about them and is on his way to give a historical talk to school kids, hence the get-up. He’s also in desperate need of a cat sitter.When Lexie steps in, little does she realise that Billy will be the key to a hidden Edinburgh she would have never discovered herself, and he might also be the man to help solve a certain piratical puzzle of her own …

PUBLISHED BY CHOC LIT

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Started-Pirate-fabulous-romantic-Schubert-ebook/dp/B08R679NSB/

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Started-Pirate-fabulous-romantic-Schubert-ebook/dp/B08R679NSB/

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/it-started-with-a-pirate

Apple: https://books.apple.com/gb/book/it-started-with-a-pirate/id1546080295

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kirsty_Ferry_It_Started_with_a_Pirate?id=V6kSEAAAQBAJ

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/it-started-with-a-pirate-kirsty-ferry/1138511497?ean=2940162708896 

MY REVIEW

The world always seems like a happier place when Schubert is around, so I was so glad to read the latest installment of the series – although these books are easily read as standalone!  

Schubert appears in the life of Lexie this time around and  he’s being looked after by Nessa’s brother Billy. It’s not the ideal situation for Billy as he’s got some historical talks to do and finds himself dressed as a Pirate …!  But the pirate look grabs the attention of Lexie when she visits the cafe he is in, and Schubert works his magic once more in introducing them to each other!

Their shared love of history and cemeteries bond them quickly, and they soon find themselves on a quest to find out more about a mysterious woman who appears in their life.  This is no ordinary search though as it opens up fascinating stories from the past and adds a twist to their time spent in cemeteries!!  The historical rabbit hole they find themselves disappearing down was brilliant!

I always love reconnecting with Schubert and the cast of characters around him – this is another fun read that you’ll find yourself racing through and wishing you had a chatty, helpful, meddlesome cat in your life!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour BOTANICAL CURSES AND POISONS by FEZ INKWRIGHT #BookReview @Rosdottir @Liminal_11 @RandomTTours

Delighted to be with you today as part of the fantastic Blog Tour for BOTANICAL CURSES AND POISONS by FEZ INKWRIGHT.  My thanks to the publisher, author and Anne of Random Things Tours for letting me be part of it all!
I’ll be featuring my review of Botanical Curses, along with the previous book, FOLK MAGIC, and I hope you’ll enjoy the bonus review too!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Botanical Curses and Poisons The Shadow Lives of Plants by Fez Inkwright 

Discover the fascinating folklore, lurid histories, and malignant properties of toxic plants.
‘If you drink much from a bottle marked ‘poison’, it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.’ – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland 


Poisonings are among the most memorable deaths in history, from the Roman Empire to the Medieval era and beyond. Concealed and deliberate, it’s a crime that must be planned in advance. And yet there is a fine line between healing and poisoning – Paracelsus argued that only the dosage matters!
 In Botanical Curses and Poisons, illustrator, author, and folklorist Fez Inkwright returns to archives to uncover the fascinating folklore, lurid histories, and untold stories behind deadly plants, witching herbs and fungi. Filled with beautiful illustrations, this treasury of folklore is packed with insight, lore, and the revealed mysteries of everyday flora! 
Botanical Curses and Poisons is printed in hardcover with metallic foiling, a ribbon bookmark, black-and-white illustrations on nearly every page, and a wealth of folklore, history and poetry about the deadly plants within! From the creator of Folk Magic and Healing (2019).


Published by Liminal Books


PURCHASE LINK

Publisher Website

MY REVIEW


We first need to discuss how stunning this book looks!! It will  stand proudly on any bookshelf on looks alone!! But thankfully the insides are just as stunning and fascinating as the author explores the history of poisonous plants. As a keen gardener myself, I’m always intrigued to learn more about the plants I have in my garden – and reading this book it appears that many of the plants I love in my garden appear in this book! 


I loved how this book explores the superstitions behind the plants along with the use in witchcraft, and how these plants were used in history to kill or poison victims..  Society used to look down on ‘herbalist’ women who would use plants to offer help to those in the community with medical issues – there’s a thin line between kill and cure it seems in some eyes!

This book also features an A-Z of plants that have been viewed and used in these ways – the meanings, the myths and the uses and it was fascinating! As I’ve said before, with so many of these plants already in my garden, I am definitely looking at them through different eyes now -and wanting to add to my ‘poison plant’ collection!!!


★★★★★

FOLK MAGIC AND HEALING by FEZ INKWRIGHT

ABOUT THE BOOK

A BOOK OF THE FOLKLORE, HISTORY AND HEALING PROPERTIES OF COMMON PLANTS

Throughout history, plants have played a key and vital role to our existence. Whether as a foodstuff, medicine, building material, or religious aid, the way that we re-purpose and domesticate plants has shaped a core part of the development of human culture. Hedgerows and wild-growing areas are a vital part of our countrysides and, through our codependency, have become ingrained in the myth and lore of humanity. Many of the old wives’ tales about plants were created to spread knowledge of their medicinal and nutritional properties, and many have become entwined with stories of local spirits, deities, and more ancient legends.

Folk Magic and Healing is, ultimately, a collection of many of these beliefs, aiming to inspire a greater appreciation of our wild plants and countrysides.

This stunningly illustrated treasury of the folklore of flora is packed with insight, lore and the revealed mysteries of everyday plants – perfect for gardeners, writers, folklorists, witches and general knowledge buffs alike!

This NEW edition takes Fez Inkwright’s gorgeous self-published book to the next level. Now in hardcover with metallic gold foiling, plus wonderful extra material, gorgeous illuminated letters and a drawing for every single plant illustrated in Fez Inkwright’s amazing style!

PURCHASE LINK

Publisher Website


MY REVIEW


Another stunning book to look at, and another fascinating read as the author explores the healing powers of plants along with their history and those who use them either for protection or charms.


Once again I’ve been spellbound (no pun intended!) by all that I’m learning about the plants included in this book!  As well as the uses of each plant, it also explores how plants were prepared for us, medicinal uses all alongside some lovely black and white illustrations.
Following the A-Z format again so each plant is given time to be explored, I’ve been fascinated to learn about the folklore of many plants that I have in my own garden – such as clover, ivy. daisies, foxgloves, primroses, roses and snowdrops to name but a few – and it is interesting that it gives you a different perspective on these plants that we just take for granted!


It’s a book you can dip in and out of and with the A-Z format, it’s easy to flip to a particular plant you wanted to learn a little bit more about!  It explores the roles that these plants play in our lives whether for magic, healing or darker reasons!


★★★★★

#AudiobookReview MUDLARKING by LARA MAIKLEM #nonfiction

ABOUT THE BOOK


Long heralded as a city treasure herself, expert “mudlarker” Lara Maiklem is uniquely trained in the art of seeking. Tirelessly trekking across miles of the Thames’ muddy shores, where others only see the detritus of city life, Maiklem unearths evidence of England’s captivating, if sometimes murky, history—with some objects dating back to 43 AD, when London was but an outpost of the Roman Empire. From medieval mail worn by warriors on English battlefields to nineteenth-century glass marbles mass-produced for the nation’s first soda bottles, Maiklem deduces the historical significance of these artifacts with the quirky enthusiasm and sharp-sightedness of a twenty-first century Sherlock Holmes.


Seamlessly interweaving reflections from her own life with meditations on the art of wandering, Maiklem ultimately delivers—for Anglophiles and history lovers alike—a memorable treatise on the objects we leave in our wake, and the stories they can reveal if only we take a moment to look.

PUBLISHED BY BLOOMSBURY

PURCHASE LINKS

HIVE.CO.UK

BLACKWELL’S

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audioversion of this book.

What a brilliantly informative and fascinating book! Read by the author herself, I loved listening to her stories from the banks of the Thames and it’s made me yearn to be a mudlarker!! I’d never heard of the term before I watched a programme on TV hosted by Jonny Vaughan and a mudlarker, and it just hooked my attention as a history fan, and in this book Lara has added more to the ways of a mudlarker and the history she and others have uncovered as they explore the banks of the River Thames.

As I live along the Estuary in Essex, this made it feel really relevant to me as places I know well are mentioned and the history is bought to life a little clearer. There are so many brilliant history snippets shared by Lara from things she’s found and learnt over the years she’s spent mudlarking, and how addictive it becomes to uncover a hidden piece of history that has laid there for hundreds of years.

It covers many topics including war, royal history, even toys found in the mud and features different parts of the thames with relevant bits of history related to that area and the changes that have occured over the years as the surrounding areas have changed. It’s clear to see that Lara and the mudlarking community she is part of are extremely proud of the work that they do and are excited to be custodians of unique pieces of history and love their ‘digging’ time! Where do I sign up to become a mudlark?!

★★★★★

#BookReview THESE SILENT MANSIONS by JEAN SPRACKLAND #TheseSilentMansions

ABOUT THE BOOK

Graveyards are oases: places of escape, of peace and reflection. Each is a garden or nature reserve, but also a site of commemoration, where the past is close enough to touch: a liminal place, at the border of the living world.


Jean Sprackland’s prize-winning book, Strands, brought to life the histories of objects found on a beach. These Silent Mansions is also an uncovering of individual stories: vivid, touching and intimately told. Sprackland travels back through her own life, revisiting graveyards in the ordinary towns and cities she has called home, seeking out others who lived, died and are remembered or forgotten there. With her poet’s eye, she makes chance discoveries among the stones and inscriptions: a notorious smuggler tucked up in a sleepy churchyard; ancient coins unearthed on a secret burial ground; a slow-worm basking in the sun.
These Silent Mansions is an elegant, exhilarating meditation on the relationship between the living and the dead, the nature of time and loss, and how – in this restless, accelerated world – we can connect the here with the elsewhere, the present with the past. 


PUBLISHED BY JONATHAN CAPE


PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon
hive.co.uk

Blackwell’s 


MY REVIEW

This was a beautifully written and fascinating insight into the world of the graveyards. From the broken tombstones, to the wildlife inhabiting the grounds late at night, I found myself totally absorbed in the journey of the author as she revisits graveyards near to where she has lived and the memories it brought back for her, alongside the history she uncovers about ‘residents’ and the stories and times they lived through.

I’ve always been fascinated by graveyards and find myself drawn to them wherever I go, and the same goes for Jean Sprackland so as she looks back over her life she decides to go on a little adventure to revisit old houses she has lived in. It gives a lovely insight into her life and as she has a wonderful way with words, it was just a pleasure to read! I found comfort in her prose, as I find comfort and peace in graveyards.

There’s plenty about the wildlife and nature that is often found at these sites,the changes to the churches and the areas they are in but what was most fascinating was the names that caught her eye on some tombstones, and as she delved further into their history it was their stories coming to life that were so illuminating and made them ‘real’! They weren’t just names to be forgotten and covered over by moss and lychen.

She also looks at how different generations dealt with death, along with the perceptions and way funerals are held, with the prominence of cremations and now the surge in natural funerals being more eco-friendly. I learnt so much throughout this book as she has such an accessible manner and each chapter was well crafted and a delight to read.


★★★★

#BookReview ESTUARY: Out from London to the sea by RACHEL LICHTENSTEIN #nonfiction #LibaryLoveChallenge

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Thames Estuary is one of the world’s great deltas, providing passage in and out of London for millennia. It is silted up with the memories and artefacts of past voyages. It is the habitat for an astonishing range of wildlife. And for the people who live and work on the estuary, it is a way of life unlike any other – one most would not trade for anything, despites its dangers.


Rachel Lichtenstein has travelled the length and breadth of the estuary many times and in many vessels, from hardy tug boats to stately pleasure cruisers to an inflatable dinghy. And during these crossing she has gathered an extraordinary chorus of voices: mudlarkers and fishermen, radio pirates and champion racers, the men who risk their lives out on the water and the women who wait on the shore.


From the acclaimed author of Brick Lane and Rodinsky’s Room, Estuary is a thoughtful and intimate portrait of a profoundly British place. With a clear eye and a sharp ear, Rachel Lichtenstein captures the essence of a community and an environment, examining how each has shaped and continues to shape the other.


PUBLISHED BY HAMISH HAMILTON


PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

hive.co.uk

waterstones


MY REVIEW

Having lived next to the Estuary all my life, I found this to be a fascinating, illuminating and detailed look at the evolution of the Thames Estuary and all those who live by it or work on it. The folklore, the role it has played in history, the way that outsiders see Essex and how that differs from those who live there and just how much it has changed over the years.

Being a local I found it so easy to feel connected to the stories told by the author, and the places she visited as she travelled along the Estuary. She stopped off in numerous places to meet people who have lived or worked on the Thames and it was so interesting to hear them share their stories. She travelled on boats and walked alongside the estuary and that really helped her give you a real flavour of estuary life. The use of black and white photos was also really clever as it didn’t make the estuary out to be a glossy, colourful place as most of the time it isn’t!

There are more shipwrecks on the floor of the estuary per square foot than anywhere else along the UK coastline and I loved hearing the stories of those, especially of the London and the Montgomery and those who have dived down to see them. Having recently visited an exhibition of items from the London at the local museum I found these chapters to be most enlightening.

It’s a book I’ve learned so much from about the local area and found it to be brilliantly written and so absorbing to read.

★★★★★

#BlogTour THE NAME BENEATH THE STONE by ROBERT NEWCOME #UnknownSoldier #BookReview @NewcomeRobert @UnicornPubGroup @Bookollective

An honour to be the stop today on the Blog Tour for the wonderful THE NAME BENEATH THE STONE by Robert Newcome. My thanks to the author, publisher and Bookollective for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Three generations, one family, connected by an historic secret. 1917 Private Daniel Dawkins fights at Messines Ridge and Passchendaele. He writes home to his true-love Joyce, but reveals little of his extreme bravery, his kindness, his loyalty to his comrades and the horrors they experience on the Western Front.

 1920 Captain Peter Harding is tasked with a secret mission to assist in the selection of a body dug up from the battlefields of Flanders to be buried in Westminster Abbey as the ‘Unknown Warrior’. Events take place on that expedition that come to haunt him for the rest of his life.

 2011 Sarah Harding discovers Daniel s letters and Peter s diaries. Together with historian James Marchant she pieces together the hidden truth behind the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and must decide what to do with it. Values are challenged and characters are tested in this gripping novel which asks what if the identity of the Unknown Soldier was discovered – and should that secret ever be revealed? 

published by Unicorn Publishing Group

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon £10.11

whsmith  £10.11

hive.co.uk  £9.55

MY REVIEW

I think it’s books like these that show you just how important it is to keep the stories of the bravery and sacrifice that many made in times of war, and I found myself totally absorbed by this story and all the many layers and timelines it encompasses.  

Set over 3 timelines, each chapter of the story is brilliantly told as a work of fiction based on fact.  In the later timeline, 2011, we have Sarah Harding who is nursing her father has he approaches the end of his life and she uncovers many letters in his possession from his time in the war and they start a chain of research and discovery off as she wishes to find out more about the past and her family link to the story of the unknown soldier.

The timelines also go back to 1917 and 1920 – in 1917 Daniel Dawkins shares his thoughts on all he has seen on the front line and the tragedies he was close to.  The banter that the soldiers shared – men and boys who came from normal backgrounds who were thrown into extraordinary circumstances, and I really loved these moments in the story.  It took you right back to try and gain a little understanding of just how they made sense of what they were witnessing and what they were being expected to do by those in charge. How the different personalities amongst them all dealt with the many horrific sights they came face to face with, and how they tried to help those struggling.

And then the 1920 storyline was that of the Unknown Soldier. How it was thought that bringing home a body from France to bury at Westminster could unite the country and those grieving their lost loved ones.  So many different emotions spring to mind when you think of those lost, and those who are at home not knowing where their loved ones are buried. And to those involved in choosing and transporting this unknown soldier back to the UK as well.

As Sarah starts to put all the pieces together of this astonishing family drama, it became a book that I found it difficult to put down.  There were so many threads to follow that each had so much intrigue that you could easily have had a book written just about each timeline!

What I loved was the human aspect of the storyline.  When we read about history we see the numbers and the cold hard facts, but this kind of book gives you a glimpse behind the scenes – the kind of people involved, how those left at home dealt with not knowing or hearing reports on the radio or in papers, the decisions that had to be made on the frontline and just how they even managed to keep going when they were faced with impossible missions and they’re constantly losing their friends and colleagues but they had to keep on fighting.

This was an enthralling and emotional book and one I’m very glad to have had the pleasure of reading. Alongside the ‘fiction’ element, there’s also a clever use throughout the book of newspaper articles of the time, telegrams from the King and all the goings on behind the scene which helped give more depth and perspective to the news that was filtering back to those in the UK.  

Highly recommended!

★★★★★

YouTube footage of the 1920 funeral of the Unknown Soldier

#BookReview THE WAY TO THE SEA by CAROLINE CRAMPTON #NonFictionNovember #TheWayToTheSea

ABOUT THE BOOK

Caroline Crampton was born on the Thames Estuary to parents who had sailed there from South Africa in the early 1980s. Having grown up with seafaring legs and a desire to explore, Caroline is both a knowledgeable guide to the most hidden-away parts of this overlooked and unfashionable part of the country, and a persuasive advocate for its significance, both historically and culturally. As one of the key entrances and exits to England, the estuary has been pivotal to London’s economic fortunes and in defining its place in the world. It has also been the entry point for immigrants for generations, yet it has an ambivalent relationship with newcomers, and UKIP’s popularity in the area is on the rise. As Caroline navigates the waters of the estuary, she also seeks out its stories: empty warehouses and arsenals; the Thames barrier, which guards the safety of Londoners more precariously than we might; ship wrecks still inhabited by the ghosts of the drowned; vast Victorian pumping stations which continue to carry away the capital’s sewage; the river banks, layered with archaeological Anglo-Saxon treasures; literature inspired by its landscape; beacons used for centuries to guide boats through the dark and murky waterways of the estuary; the eerie Maunsell army forts – 24 metre high towers of concrete and steel which were built on concealed sandbanks at the far reaches of the estuary during the Second World War and designed to spot (and shoot) at incoming enemy planes; and the estuary’s wildlife and shifting tidal moods.

PUBLISHED BY GRANTA BOOKS

PURCHASE LINKS

amazon uk  £11.89

whsmith  £11.89

hive.co.uk  £12.49

MY REVIEW

As someone who lives alongside the Thames Estuary, I found this to be a fascinating mix of memoir and history of the Thames from Caroline as she looks back to her first memories of the Thames with her parents, and how it has changed as she travels back along the Thames from the source to the open sea. And there’s huge differences in the River from one end to the other so it’s really interesting to hear her thoughts as she sees the landscape change around her on her journey.

And amongst her own personal recollections of time spent along, and in!, the Thames there are also clever uses of how the Thames has been recorded and used in history, literature, art and photography which gives you another look at how important a role that the Thames has played over the years, and continues to do so but in a rather different way now than before.

As a local to the Thames I found it fascinating to learn so much more about places and points along the river that I thought I knew so well! I understand the pull of the Thames so I really connected with the author and her ‘obsession’ with the water and the places along it. From the animal life to the diseases and disasters that have plagued this stretch of water, I found this book to be really entertaining and informative.

★★★★

#BookReview The Brothers York by Thomas Penn #TheBrothersYork #history #nonfiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

In early 1461, a seventeen-year-old boy won a battle on a freezing morning in the Welsh marches, and claimed the crown of England as Edward IV, first king of the usurping house of York. It was a time when old certainties had been shredded: by popular insurgency, economic crisis, feuding and a corrupt, bankrupt government presided over by the imbecilic, Lancastrian King Henry VI. The country was in need of a new hero. Magnetic, narcissistic, Edward found himself on the throne, and alongside him his two younger brothers: the unstable, petulant George, Duke of Clarence, and the boy who would emerge from his shadow, Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

Charismatic, able and ambitious, the brothers would become the figureheads of a spectacular ruling dynasty, one that laid the foundations for a renewal of English royal power. Yet a web of grudges and resentments grew between them, generating a destructive sequence of conspiracy, rebellion, deposition, fratricide, usurpation and regicide. The house of York’s brutal end came on 22August 1485 at Bosworth Field, with the death of the youngest brother, now Richard III, at the hands of a new usurper, Henry Tudor.

Brothers York is the story of three remarkable brothers, two of whom were crowned kings of England and the other an heir presumptive, whose antagonism was fuelled by the mistrust and vendettas of the age that brought their family to power. The house of York should have been the dynasty that the Tudors became. Its tragedy was that it devoured itself. 

PUBLISHED BY  allen lane

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon  £17.66

hive.co.uk  £18.89

waterstones – signed edition £30

MY REVIEW

A comprehensive and fascinating book that looks back on The Brothers York – Edward, Clarence and Richard – and made me realise how little I really know about the history of my own country!

The fifteenth century was certainly not a dull time in history and with these complex characters at the centre of the action, it was a most absorbing read and we got to learn more of their personalities, the bond (or lack of!) between the brothers and the lengths they were driven to in the quest for power and glory!

With the Yorkists v the Lancastrians at the core of the times, things were never pretty! It was a brutal time to be alive and even made Game of Thrones look a little tame when reading of the exploits of certain characters – the betrayals, the alliances, the deals!

With a big cast of characters central to each brother, I did find it a little overwhelming at times in keeping up with who was who! But it was told in such a way that you could keep up through the years as things progressed, and with what was going on with each brother. I’m sure I must have slept through history at school as there was so much that I knew very little about and getting to see each brother individually was a great way in learning more about them and how brutal the power struggle became.

It was also fascinating to see the kind of people they surrounded themselves with, as well as how the public reacted to each brother – we think of the Brexit years as being uncertain, but they are no patch on the tumultuous times back then with wars, feuds, betrayals, beheadings and battles amongst different factions across the country. It also bought home the human cost to people – the loss of life through plague, even in the royal household, and to read of 3 year olds getting married is just unimaginable to us now, but it was all part of life back then to gain more power and standing.

Full of staggering details and a complete eye opener for me and has just made me more eager to more history books, especially if they’re all written as brilliantly as this one!

★★★★

My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the advanced ecopy in return for a fair and honest review