Posted in Biography, Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Non Fiction, New Books, Non-Fiction

Elizabeth & Margaret: The Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters Andrew Morton 4*#Review @OMaraBooks @andrewmortonUK @LoveBooksGroup @Lovebookstours #lovebookstours #ElizabethandMargaret

The first in-depth dual-biography of Elizabeth & Margaret, written by the bestselling royal biographer, Andrew Morton.

They were the closest of sisters and the best of friends.

But when, in a quixotic twist of fate, their uncle Edward VIII decided to abdicate the throne, the dynamic between Elizabeth and Margaret was dramatically altered. Forever more, Margaret would have to curtsey to the sister she called ‘Lillibet’. And bow to her wishes.

Elizabeth would always look upon her younger sister’s antics with a kind of stoical amusement but Margaret’s struggle to find a place and position inside the royal system – and her fraught relationship with its expectations – was often a source of tension. Famously, the Queen had to inform Margaret that the Church and government would not countenance her marrying a divorcee, Group Captain Peter Townsend, forcing Margaret to choose between keeping her title and royal allowances or her divorcee lover.

From the idyll of their cloistered early life, through their hidden wartime lives, into the divergent paths they took following their father’s death and Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne, this book explores their relationship over the years. Andrew Morton, renowned bestselling author of Diana: Her True Story, offers unique insight into these two drastically different sisters – one resigned to duty and responsibility, the other resistant to it – and the lasting impact they have had on the Crown, the royal family and the way it has adapted to the changing mores of the twentieth century.

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I received a copy of this book from O’Mara Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a fascinating insight into the Windsor sisters life and relationships.

It is extensively researched and peppered with anecdotal and historical details. The sense of duty expected from the royal princesses is evident throughout this biography. The writing style is intimate, and immersive drawing the reader into the Royal world at a time of constitutional crisis and change.

The book is both entertaining and informative. There are scandalous elements, although these are quite sedate when compared with twenty-first-century scandals. The enormity of becoming Queen at such a young age comes across well in this book.

This is an enjoyable, insightful read with some lovely images to illustrate the text.

ANDREW MORTON is one of the world’s best-known biographers and a leading authority on modern celebrity. His groundbreaking 1992 biography revealed the secret world of Princess Diana, prompting Tina Brown to declare in The Diana Chronicles, “The journalist Morton most reminds me of is Bob Woodward.” Diana: Her True Story became a #1 New York Times bestseller, as did Monica’s Story, Morton’s portrait of the young woman behind the blue dress in the Clinton White House.

The winner of numerous awards, including Author of the Year by the British Book Awards and Scoop of the Year by the London Press Club, he lives in London and has travelled extensively in the U.S., Canada, and Europe in his research for this biography.

Posted in Biography, Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Historical Non Fiction, Non-Fiction

Jane Austen’s Best Friend: The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd. Zoe Wheddon 4*#Review @ZoeWheddon @penswordbooks #nonfiction #Biography #JaneAusten #BlogTour #BookReview @rararesources #JaneAustensBestFriend

All fans of Jane Austen everywhere believe themselves to be best friends with the beloved author and this book shines a light on what it meant to be exactly that. Jane Austen’s Best Friend; The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd offers a unique insight into Jane’s private inner circle. Through this heart-warming examination of an important and often overlooked person in Jane’s world, we uncover the life changing force of their friendship. Each chapter details the fascinating facts and friendship forming qualities that tied Jane and Martha together. Within these pages we will relive their shared interests, the hits and misses of their romantic love lives, their passion for shopping and fashion, their family histories, their lucky breaks and their girly chats. This book offers a behind the scenes tour of the shared lives of a fascinating pair and the chance to deepen our own bonds in ‘love and friendship’ with them both.

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I received an digital ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a well-researched biography of Martha Lloyd, a close friend and confidante of Jane Austen. It’s informative yet lively writing style brings characters and events to vibrant life. The book explores Martha’s life and highlights their friendship at pivotal times. Chapters on their first meeting, her influence on Jane’s early writing career, their forays into romance, and their love of fashion all illuminate their friendship in an engagingly vivid way.

The author’s depth of knowledge and respect for the writer is evident and makes this an enjoyable read for all.

Jane Austen’s Best Friend – Extract – Zoe Wheddon

It is so true that all of us who love Jane Austen would love to have been one of her actual friends. This extract goes right to the heart of the book – it focuses on the reason why we so want to read it – to get closer to Jane and to stop and pause for a moment to soak in all the wonder of what it would have been like to have been her very best friend. It is also a lovely moment to pause and reflect on the overwhelming gratitude we feel as her fans that she did indeed have such a friend, to love and cherish her as we would all do if we only had the chance.

Martha Lloyd occupied a sure and steady place centre stage in Jane Austen’s heart from a young age, and Jane held on tightly to her friendship throughout her journey towards a literary career and beyond, even to the very end of her life. Although heartbreakingly they would become sisters, in the legal sense, only posthumously, Jane often referred to Martha in the most familial of terms and felt as though she had been blessed with a treasure, another who occupied the same precious place in her heart and mind as her blood family.

Zoe Wheddon

‘A native of Jane Austen’s beloved county of Hampshire, Zoe Wheddon, lives in a village on the outskirts of the touwn that she and her husband Matt grew up in, with three grown up children and a cat called Leia.

She co-presents the popular podcast What Would Jane Do and writes articles and book reviews on matters relating to friendship, self-compassion and personal development on her blog. When not researching or writing her next book, Zoe can be found in the classroom teaching Spanish and French or singing ABBA songs loudly in her kitchen.’

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Excerpt, Extract, Historical Non Fiction

Eileen: The Making of George Orwell Sylvia Topp @sylviatopp @unbounders#Extract #BookSpotlight #nonfiction #biography #GeorgeOrwell #Eileen #RandomThingsTours @annecater

This is the story of George Orwell’s first wife, a woman who shaped, supported and even saved the life of one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers.

In 1934, Eileen O’Shaughnessy’s futuristic poem, ‘End of the Century, 1984′, was published. The next year, she would meet George Orwell, then known as Eric Blair, at a party. “Now,’ he remarked that night, ‘that’s the kind of girl I would like to marry.’ Years later, Orwell would name his greatest work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, in homage to the memory of Eileen, the woman who shaped his life and his art in ways that have never been acknowledged by history, until now.

From the time they spent in a tiny village tending goats and chickens, through the Spanish Civil War, the couple’s narrow escape from the destruction of their London flat during a German bombing raid, and their adoption of a baby boy, this is the first account of the Blairs’ nine-year marriage, up until Eileen’s untimely death in 1945. It is also a vivid picture of bohemianism, political engagement, and sexual freedom in the 1930s and ’40s. Through impressive depth of research, illustrated throughout with photos and images from the time, this captivating and inspiring biography offers a completely new perspective on Orwell himself, and most importantly tells the life story of an exceptional woman who has been unjustly overlooked.

The first account of this extraordinary woman offers a completely new perspective on one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers.

The book is built on original research supported by the Orwell Estate and Orwell Society, with all recent biographers of Orwell lauding the book. Peter Davison, the editor of the 20-volume set The Complete Works of George Orwell, provides a foreword.

For fans of The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, Vera: Mrs Nabokov by Stacy Schiff, Nora: The Real Life of Molly Bloom by Brenda Maddox.

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#Eileen #GeorgeOrwell

Extract From Eileen : Chapter 5: A WHIRLWIND COURTSHIP

Eileen and Orwell had both spent years deliberately disregarding expected conventions, and they liked each other immediately. Just her name, Eileen O’Shaughnessy, was delightful. Gwen, who had married Eileen’s brother, joked that his surname had been one of his main attractions. And their adopted daughter, Catherine, regretted having to give up the O’Shaughnessy name when she got married.5 Although Eileen grew up under her mother’s Church of England beliefs, her Irish Catholic father had a stronger influence on her personality. Besides inheriting his good looks, she had an Irish sense of playfulness. As Lydia noted, “One could never be certain whether she was being serious or facetious…. Her Irishness was revealed most clearly in the ease with which [rather outlandish] remarks rolled off her tongue … with a slant and a degree of whimsicality all her own.”  Orwell shared and appreciated her wry sense of humor. As one friend summed it up, “Orwell’s genuine streak of old-fashioned conventionality sometimes bordered on whimsy and you could not always be quite certain if he was serious or not.” 7

Eileen and Orwell spent the evening in earnest conversation. He had his three published novels to brag about, although he was still poor enough at 31 to be working part-time in a bookshop. And she had many Oxford tales to charm him with, including her in-depth knowledge of Chaucer, whom Orwell loved, as well as her interactions with Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, both of whom had become well-known since their time as her tutors. Their evening together was also punctuated with joyous laughter because, as Eileen told a friend, she was “rather drunk, behaving my worst, very rowdy.”  As Eileen revealed much later, in those early years she had a capacity for large amounts of alcohol, regularly drinking “four glasses of sherry, half a bottle of claret and some brandy.” Perhaps she was the first woman Orwell had met who really appreciated his dry wit. Her self-described party personality shows clearly the charm she could turn on with ease, and Orwell was love struck immediately.

When the party ended and he had returned from walking the guests down the hill to nearby buses and trains, Orwell excitedly told Rosalind, “Now that is the kind of girl I would like to marry!” Rosalind, who perhaps had this partnership in mind when she invited Eileen, “was delighted to hear this, as [she,] too, felt they had much to give each other.” She described Eileen as “a very attractive, very feminine Irish woman, with lively interests and [a] gay, infectious laugh.” Orwell was thrilled when Rosalind suggested inviting Eileen to dinner the next time she saw her at school.

At their next class together, Eileen told Rosalind that she had found Orwell “very interesting.”  She was already reading Burmese Days, Orwell’s second book, most likely at his suggestion. His third book, A Clergyman’s Daughter, had been published a few months earlier, and although it had received more favorable reviews than he expected, Orwell was quite critical of it himself, while Down and Out in Paris and London, his first book, was a wild, original creation that he perhaps feared Eileen might not appreciate. Burmese Days had recently been published in America, though not yet in England, and Orwell had received very positive reviews for it. Geoffrey Gorer—a social anthropologist who would later become a close friend of the couple’s—wrote, “It seems to me an absolutely admirable statement of fact told as vividly and with as little bitterness as possible.” And Orwell’s Eton classmate Cyril Connolly recommended it “to anyone who enjoys a pate of efficient indignation, graphic description, excellent narrative, excitement, and irony tempered with vitriol.”  As she read this novel, Eileen realized right away that she had met a man with the potential of becoming a great writer.

Eileen agreed to meet Orwell again, and Rosalind remembered that “our small dinner-party two days after was a very gay affair. I left them quite soon (after the meal) in my sitting-room and went out to near-by friends.”  Left alone, as Rosalind had so wisely allowed, Eileen and Orwell continued to explore their initial intrigue with each other. Orwell realized that at last he’d met a woman who was his intellectual equal, perhaps the most intelligent woman he would ever know, a woman who had actually gone to Oxford while he had “wasted” those years as a policeman in Burma. She had the education and background to be able to take him and his writing as seriously as he did, one of his most important requirements in a wife.

Eileen was glad to have found a man who was not intimidated by her intelligence, a man with as complicated a past as her own. As one of her friends remembered, “She had the kind of mind that was always grinding. She was interested in most things, but especially in people.”  And of course Orwell also had an exceedingly “grinding” kind of mind. Eileen was just finishing her first year toward an M.A. in psychology, and the sometimes gloomy Orwell would have presented an intriguing personality to explore. She shared his humorous, skeptical approach to the inanities of the world, and they both loved twisting language in teasing ways. Although he was often deliberately provocative, Eileen was capable of countering with her own quips when his exaggerations were too extreme, and he enjoyed her attempts to outwit him. Her friends thought she understood people better than Orwell did, and had an equal and ubiquitous range of interests.

Sylvia Topp

Sylvia Topp has worked in publishing since college, starting as a copy editor on medical journals, then moving to freelance editing at major literary publishing houses. She was the long-time wife and partner of Tuli Kupferberg, a Beat poet who later was a co-founder, in 1964, of the Fugs, a legendary rock and roll band. Together Sylvia and Tuli wrote, edited, and designed over thirty books and magazines, including As They Were, 1001 Ways to Live Without Working, and Yeah! magazine. Sylvia joined the staff at The Soho Weekly News and later The Village Voice, before finishing her publishing career at Vanity Fair. Eileen is her first book. She lives in Kingston, Ontario.

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Eileen: The Making of GEORGE ORWELL -SYLVIA TOPP.

PRAISE

‘One cannot emphasize too strongly the importance of Eileen O’Shaughnessy in the life of Eric Blair, and hence of George Orwell. Her influence upon him was profound, in his life and his work. It’s now splendid to have her biography’

Peter Stansky, co-author of Orwell: The Transformation

A most interesting biography … it has not only brought Eileen in from the shadows but has given her full credit for her contributions to Orwell’s late great novels. An excellent read, especially rewarding for Orwell scholars’

Gordon Bowker author of George Orwell

Eileen O’Shaughnessy, George Orwell’s first wife, has always been something of a black hole at the centre of Orwell Studies. Sylvia Topp’s painstaking researches have breathed life into this enigmatic figure, and all Orwell fans owe her a huge debt of gratitude’

D. J. Taylor, author of George Orwell: The Life
Posted in #Sale, Book Spotlight, Historical Non Fiction, Non-Fiction

iNostalgia Book Blitz @inostalgiauk @Lovebookstours #BookBlitz #bookpromo #Sale #nonfiction #historical #Newspaper #photographs

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The team at iNostalgia have a deal on their non-fiction titles now when you purchase them through the iNostalgia store. Three titles for only £25 in their online store.

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Here is a little snippet of each book available.

Fifteen years on from its original publication, The Changing Face of Manchester, Second Edition brings you up-to-date photographs of today’s modern Manchester. Shot as close to the original images as possible by photographer Justin Garner, you are able to see how much Manchester has changed over the decades through these side-by-side images.

Featuring fascinating stories by author Clive Hardy to accompany the stunning images, you can take home this little slice of Manchester history, and in years to come you will be able to look back and remember those days of old with fond memories.

Around Manchester in the 1950s is a new 160 page paperback book featuring a unique collection of more than 200 unmissable photographs and memories from the Manchester Evening News Archives. Relive the great times of the 50s and share your memories with friends and loved ones.

Around Manchester in the 1960s is a new 160-page paperback book featuring a unique collection of more than 250 unmissable photographs and memories from the Manchester Evening News Archives. Relive the great times of the swinging 60s and share your memories with friends and loved ones.

There are many unmissable images from the Swinging Sixties in Clive Hardy’s brilliant book Around Liverpool and Merseyside in the 1960s.

Around Manchester in the 1970s is a new 160-page paperback book featuring a unique collection of more than 300 unmissable photographs and memories from the Manchester Evening News Archives. Relive the great times of the 1970s and share your memories with friends and loved ones.

The 180+ images, many never published before, come from the fantastic archive of the Newcastle Chronicle and Journal, and the Daily Mirror. The majority capture the life and times of Newcastle during the decade, and there are others showing wider Tyneside. Along with the text, they give a taste of what it was like to live in the region during that unique period.

Fifteen years on from its original publication, The Changing Face of Manchester, Second Edition brings you up-to-date photographs of today’s modern Manchester. Shot as close to the original images as possible by photographer Justin Garner, you are able to see how much Manchester has changed over the decades through these side-by-side images.

Featuring fascinating stories by author Clive Hardy to accompany the stunning images, you can take home this little slice of Manchester history, and in years to come, you will be able to look back and remember those days of old with fond memories.

You can purchase all these wonderful books in the iNostalgia store.

iNostalgia Website Link

Posted in Book Review, Historical Non Fiction, Non-Fiction

Magnificent Women and Their Revolutionary Machines Henrietta Heald 5*#Review @henrietta999 @unbounders #Historical #nonfiction #feministhistory @magnificentwo #MagnificentWomen #RandomThingsTours @annecater

#MagnificentWomenAndTheirRevolutionaryMachines

In 1919, in the wake of the First World War, a group of extraordinary women came together to create the Women s Engineering Society. They were trailblazers, pioneers and boundary breakers, but many of their stories have been lost to history. To mark the centenary of the society’s creation, Magnificent Women and Their Revolutionary Machines brings them back to life.

Their leaders were Katharine and Rachel Parsons, wife and daughter of the engineering genius Charles Parsons, and Caroline Haslett, a self-taught electrical engineer who campaigned to free women from domestic drudgery and became the most powerful professional woman of her age. Also featured are Eleanor Shelley-Rolls, sister of car magnate Charles Rolls; Viscountess Rhondda, a director of thirty-three companies who founded and edited the revolutionary Time and Tide magazine; and Laura Willson, a suffragette and labour rights activist from Halifax, who was twice imprisoned for her political activities.

This is not just the story of the women themselves, but also the era in which they lived. Beginning at the moment when women in Britain were allowed to vote for the first time, and to stand for Parliament and when several professions were opened up to them Magnificent Women charts the changing attitudes towards women in society and in the workplace.

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I received a copy of this book from Unbounders in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

2019 marks the centenary for the Women’s Engineering Society, which was created by seven women in 1919. Partly created, in response to a reactionary parliamentary bill, and to reinforce the employment inroads women achieved during WW1. The Women’s Engineering Society wanted the women who had kept Britain working during the WW1, to continue in their chosen engineering and manufacturing roles. They also encouraged more women to enter engineering as a career. Given the small proportion of women enjoying a university or technical education, this was an ambitious aim. Women’s rights and choice were also at the forefront of the Women’s Engineering Society’s aims. Many of the founders came from prominent engineering families, but their social class was diverse.

The book follows the accomplishments and life events of the two most active women in the organisation; Rachel Parsons, daughter of a famous engineer, and Caroline Haslett, a dedicated suffragette. This personal element in the book draws the reader in and makes the achievements and sacrifices relatable.

The book is written in an engaging easy to read style, which makes the events, people and social ethos of the twentieth century come to life. Divided into chapters which explore significant individuals, their achievements and inventions, it is easy to dip in and out of and use for reference. However, the potential and vibrancy of this period in history for women, make this addictive reading.

The cover and images contained within the book, support the narrative well. The reader is given a good sense of the time period, social ethos and economic climate and the uphill struggle women faced in their battle for economic equality.

The final chapter lists notable events and inventions for women in the twentieth- century and is the perfect hopeful conclusion to inspire women engineers in the twenty-first-century.

 

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#HenriettaHeald

Henrietta Heald is the author of William Armstrong, Magician of the No rt h which was shortlisted for the H. W. Fisher Best First Biography Prize and the Portico Prize for non-fiction. She was chief editor of Chronicle of Britain and Irela n d and Reader’s Digest Illustrated Guide to Britain’s Coast. Her other books include Coastal Living, La Vie est Belle, and a National Trust guide.