Review of ‘Queens of the Age of Chivalry’ by Alison Weir

‘Queens Of The Age Of Chivalry’ by Alison Weir is a masterpiece. I have read many of her fiction books on the lives of royal women, and those in the royal courts, but this is the first non-fiction account I have come across. Alison Weir, through meticulous research, brings us the lives of five Queens who lived through England’s Age of Chivalry. Covering the years 1299-1409, we meet five remarkable women, whose stories have never been told in such great detail and with such passion. She shows us that they were remarkable women in their own right, and not just mere appendages to the Kings, or pawns in political games. We meet Marguerite of France, Isabella of France, Phillipa of Hainault, Anne of Bohemia and Isabella of Valois. 

Alison weir is an excellent storyteller in her fiction books, and brings that flair to this non fiction account of the Queens. She gives us an insight into the daily lives of the queens. We learn how they spent their money, where that money came from and the strength they needed to live in turbulent times. 

Her descriptions of the the palaces made me feel as if I was there. I was astounded at that vast sums the women spent on clothes, food, trips and impressing foreign dignitaries. 

Most of all, I found it fascinating reading about queens I had previously heard little about.  There is so much detail about each one, and I take my hat off to Alison Weir at the work that goes into every book she writes. My interest was especially piqued at a theory she posits regarding Edward II. But you’ll have to read the book to find out what that was!

I was given this book to review.

Review of ‘Agatha Christie – A Very Elusive Woman’ by Lucy Worsley

As a huge admirer of the works of Agatha Christie, I have been eagerly awaiting the publication of ‘Agatha Christie- A Very Elusive Woman’ by Lucy Worsley. 

Telling the story of Agatha’s life, from her early years with an education-averse mother, to Dame Agatha, the most read female writer ever. 

Lucy Worsley has a very engaging style. Bringing together research from the Christie archives, as well as contemporary accounts and Agatha’s own words, she paints a picture of a fascinating woman. Whatever your preconceived ideas may be of Mrs Christie, this book gives a chance to reconsider. As expected the disappearance in 1926 is discussed fully, but unlike many commentators at the time and since, Lucy Worsley delves into the subject with an open mind. I found her conclusions convincing and thoughtful. 

I cannot recommend it highly enough. 

Review of ‘In The Mood’ by MW Arnold

‘In The Mood’ by MW Arnold is set in 1944 at the Air Transport Auxiliary service in Hamble, Hampshire. The female pilots are helping the war effort by delivering aeroplanes all over the country, at great risk. In this, the fourth in the series, they are again faced with mysteries to solve, and personal tragedies to face. Blackmail is the least of their problems, as peril mounts and they find themselves in grave danger.

They were an interesting group of women, and I found that I wanted to read more about them. The camaraderie between them was inspiring. MW Arnold captured the intense relationships and friendships that are part of war. His chatty style allows the reader to feel a part of the group, as they live day to day with war and the losses that entails. 

MW Arnold also managed to weave this group friendship with a mystery. I liked it and I liked them. They were a very diverse set of women, each with their own skills and challenges in life. An enjoyable read.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Janet Jackson’s Yorkshire B&B’ by Becky Papworth

‘Janet Jackson’s Yorkshire B&B’ by Becky Papworth is set in Hebden bridge, and is the delightfully funny story of a woman who is put upon by everyone in her life. Whatever life throws at Janet, she manages, somehow, to find a way to survive. Hilariously. Running a B&B seemed like a great idea, but as Janet soon finds out, nothing is ever that easy.

Her outlook is insightful and oh so true to life. She gets it right in so many ways and drops in so much about life, the little things we all recognise. 

It’s about families and friends and hangers-on. Janet Jackson is a one-woman whirlwind. I’ve no idea how she copes and fits everything in. But she does, and with humour, energy and love.  I loved every minute of it and it left me chuckling well after I’d finished the last page. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Time After Time’ by Louise Pentland

‘Time After Time’ by Louise Pentland is a heartwarming, funny and delightfully insightful story. 

Tabby’s life is suddenly upended when her dad makes a surprise announcement over Sunday lunch. She likes to stay well within her comfort zone, but the dominoes begin to fall and there’s nothing she can do to stop them. As she tries to cope with the changes, she wishes she could go back in time, where things were simpler. Meeting Bea begins a voyage of discovery. The only problem is, Bea is in the 1980s, and Tabby has been pushed into the past. So why does everything feel right in 1989? And will her travels in time be the answer to her present day problems?

I loved the time travel element of this novel. As someone who grew up in the 1980s, I revelled in the retro fashion details. I adored the mention of long lost shops. I couldn’t get enough of the tiny day to day differences. I felt I was with Tabby as she discovered the world of big hair, even bigger shoulder pads and mountains of Elnett hair spray. 

It was about Tabby discovering what she wanted from life. Wouldn’t we all love the chance to see ourselves from another perspective? 

It was a beautiful story of love, self-discovery and hope. I adored it.

I was given this ARC to review. 

Review of ‘Elizabeth of York – The Last White Rose’ by Alison Weir

‘Elizabeth of York’ by Alison Weir is the story of Elizabeth, the last White Rose, as thereafter the houses of York and Lancaster joined to become the House of Tudor. Elizabeth has lived her entire life in fear of one political upheaval after another. Her young life is interrupted by the need to seek sanctuary as her father fights to hold onto his throne. On his death her future looks uncertain. Will she be forced into marriage with her uncle?  Or will she finally meet and marry the Lancaster rival to the throne, Henry Tudor? The difficult choices she must make will not only affect her own life, but those of her family and the entire country. 

Alison Weir fills in a lot of the backstory using conversations between the young Elizabeth and her mother. And this was certainly needed, as there are many players in this story and their relationships to each other are extremely important. There is a list of those involved and how they relate to each other at the beginning of the book and I found myself having to refer to that several times. 

We are reminded that very young children are but pawns in royal households at this time. They are married off at very young ages and sent away from their families. Power seems to trump close and loving familial relationships, especially in the eyes of Elizabeth’s parents. 

The author managed to make Elizabeth very real to me. I could imagine her fears as well as the joyful moments in her life. Alison Weir gets into the heads of her main characters, giving her readers a way into the past. Elizabeth had a  lifetime of being a part of, and watching the machinations of, those intent on power at all costs. Her fortunes would rise and fall, depending on how the political situation changed.

I found her story fascinating. Weir pulled me into Elizabeth’s world, and transported me to a time and place vital to the future of the monarchy. Her knowledge on the subject is astounding and I learned so much about an amazing woman. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘In Place of Fear’ by Catriona McPherson

‘In Place of Fear’ by Catriona McPherson is set in Edinburgh in 1948, at the birth of the NHS. Helen begins a new job as Medical Almoner, which is a welfare role within the practice. Whatever the doctors can’t help with medically, will normally fall under her remit. Her family don’t seem happy that she’s even working, never mind with two male doctors. They are of the opinion that a married woman should be having babies and staying at home. There is also the inverted snobbery attitude that she is trying to rise above her station in life, and girls like her from the poor tenements should be working in factories, not a doctor’s office. When Helen stumbles across a dead body, she finds her herself investigating the murkier side of life. It seems people will stop at nothing to prevent scandal, and by poking her nose in, Helen is in grave danger. 

I have read Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Silver series set in the 1920s and enjoyed them immensely. This is very different, in that the heroine is a working class woman, dealing with the harsh realities of life just after the Second World War. The historical aspects of the new NHS fascinated me. Its inception made life bearable for so many people and continues to this day, despite the efforts of some politicians.

The descriptions of Edinburgh in the 1940s felt so real and so desperate. The poverty was appalling still. The use of local language and dialect gave it a gritty reality, and I hope that those reading out-with Scotland will appreciate its richness.

The mystery is well told, as Helen delves into the seedy underbelly of Edinburgh, and finds out some secrets that others will kill to keep hidden. It was tense and compelling. There was also love and loyalty and a desire to make things better. I loved it.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Christmas Proposal’ by Lisa Moreau

I know Christmas was months ago, and it might seem strange to be reading a Christmas romance in March, but ‘The Christmas Proposal’ is a book I would recommend reading any time of the year. 

Grace Dawson might be over her ex, Christina, but the thought of planning her proposal to another women makes her want to run for the hills. She has found a way past the hurt of their break-up and is ready to find that special woman of her own. Working for ‘Tie the Knot’ brings her face to face with romance every day, but so far she has yet to find love for herself. 

Bridget Cartwright is Christina’s new PA, and has been tasked with organising a romantic proposal for her. But Bridget doesn’t have a romantic bone in her body and doesn’t have a clue where to start. When she hires Grace for the job, the pair become stranded on Mistletoe Mountain, and it is there, in the most Christmassy town imaginable, that they begin to realise change is possible. Will they each be able to escape the past and find true love?

‘The Christmas Proposal’ is like a lesbian Hallmark movie. I wallowed in the wonderful Christmas feeling and forgot about the outside world for a few hours . Mistletoe Mountain was a beautiful small town, with warmth from Grace’s family and the townsfolk. It made me smile. It made me happy. I don’t believe Christmas novels are just for Christmas. In this case I would read Grace and Bridget’s story year round. It was the tonic I needed. 

Lisa Moreau writes heart-warming stories of love and romance. She makes me love her characters and the wonderful settings she chooses for them. I have read all of her books and adore them all. They are like a giant hug and a comforting escape when we need it most. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons’ by Patsy Trench

I was delighted to be asked to be a part of the Blog Tour for ‘Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons’ by Patsy Trench. Having spent over twenty years working in the theatre and television as an actress, Patsy now spends her times writing, fiction, non-fiction and also scripts for The Children’s Musical Theatre of London. ‘Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons’ is the fourth in her ‘Modern Women:Entertaining Edwardians’ series, and is set in the world she knows and loves best.

‘Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons’ is a funny, light and gentle story set in Edwardian London. Violet Graham finds herself producing a new play by Robbie Robinson, the man who would give anything to be her beau. As the pair try to pull all the strings together, we are given an insight into exactly what it takes to stage a show. First of all they need backers to put the money up. Then there’s the problem of who to cast, and a theatre to hire. The subject matter of the suffragette movement isn’t to everyone’s taste either.

I found this story delightful. It was humorous, had engaging characters and managed to deal with a serious subject in a different way. I loved the historical truths mixed in with the story of how to get a message across in the play without alienating the audience. I enjoyed following Violet as she became more confident in her role. Society wasn’t quite ready for women in positions of power. Neither were they ready for women to get the vote – until they were. This book was just the tonic I needed.

I was given this ARC for review.

Purchase Link: https://mybook.to/MrsMorphett

Review of ‘The Dark Queens’ by Shelley Puhak

As a history graduate I thought I was well versed in the history of Europe. But as I found out reading this book, the important roles played by women have been erased in some cases, and my knowledge was sorely lacking. Brunhild and Fredegund were strong, powerful women who started out as pawns in the games of others, but went on to influence early medieval Europe. Merovingian France was forever changed by them and as a result the whole of Europe. 

I found their stories fascinating – Fredegund a slave who ended up a Queen, and Brunhild, a Princess who found a strength and ability to outmanoeuvre the men around her. This book can be read by those with a general interest in history. It can also be read by those with an academic interest in history. The author gives a detailed bibliography and notes section at the back. So if the reader so wishes, they have the tools to find out even more and look deeper into the subject. But if a desire to find out more about forgotten women, whose influence on European history is the aim, then this book does that too.

This book has expanded my knowledge of an era and of characters forgotten over time. It is written in a very accessible style and I found myself taken back there, imagining a time and place, and the people living that reality. 

I was given this ARC by LoveReading to review.