Mary Tudor – Princess by Tony Riches #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT

MARY paperback (002)

From the author of the international best-selling Tudor Trilogy, the true story of the Tudor dynasty continues with the daughter of King Henry VII, sister to King Henry VIII. Mary Tudor watches her elder brother become King of England and wonders what the future holds for her.

Born into great privilege, Mary has beauty and intelligence beyond her years and is the most marriageable princess in Europe. Henry plans to use her marriage to build a powerful alliance against his enemies. Will she dare risk his anger by marrying for love?

Meticulously researched and based on actual events, this ‘sequel’ follows Mary’s story from book three of the Tudor Trilogy and is set during the reign of King Henry VIII.

My Revue

Unlike other readers I tend to avoid selecting Tudor history, perhaps because of a surfeit of them in earlier years, but Mary – Tudor Princess appealed because she was so little known to me; not Bloody Mary, Henry’s eldest surviving child, not Mary Queen of Scots but Henry’s sister Mary.  Though written in the third person, this Mary speaks to us of her life of duty and compromise and the happiness she found by guile and diplomacy in finally achieving the marriage she desired.

Wise beyond her years, 13-year-old Mary accepts her betrothal to 9 year old Charles, a future Emperor and prepares herself by keeping his picture at her bedside, but suddenly her capricious brother, King Henry VIII, sees more profit in marrying her to the much older King Louis of France.  Rather than being filled with horror, as a young woman of this century would be, she faces her new life bravely, realising that the King’s age and poor health open the possibility of another husband when she is widowed.  To this end she extracts a promise from her brother that her next marriage will be of her choice though she was to find this was not quite as straightforward as she hoped.

The story also deals with the purchase of wardships, where an astute gentleman, such as Charles Brandon, Mary’s second husband, acquired a young ward so that he could gain access to her fortune by arranging her marriage either to himself or to a useful ally. And here too, we see young girls happily agreeing to this state of affairs, just as Mary’s grand-daughter, Lady Jane Grey would, 40 years later. The complex life of a noble lady in 16th century Europe is both fascinating and disturbing.

Tony Riches has given us a likeable, clever Mary who becomes a good mother and step-mother, who eventually marries the love of her life but quickly learns that she and her friend Queen Catherine are tools in a man’s world.  I thoroughly enjoyed entering the French court, watching Henry’s tournaments and experiencing Mary’s joys and sorrows.

Mary Tudor Queen is available at Amazon UK and at Amazon US

Tony Riches Author (002)

About the Author
Tony Riches is a full-time author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the fifteenth century, with a particular interest in the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors.
For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his website tonyriches.com and his popular blog, The Writing Desk and find him on Goodreads as well as Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.

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Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley #BookReview

new JA

On the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen I feel beholden to return to her timeless stories, but in Lucy Worsley’s book I have been given additional insight into Jane’ character and sensitivity. “Jane Austen at Home” is assiduously well documented, showing a depth of research and most importantly, a grasp of Jane’s spirit.

At first sight, the thick book of small text seems daunting, but as you begin to read you are invited in to Steventon Rectory and soon come to know Jane’s family; her loving father, unsympathetic mother, the legion of brothers and dear sister Cassandra. From Jane’s letters and many accounts by family members, Lucy has built up a clear picture of her everyday life and the way in which her homes are reflected in her books.

It is a delight to read Lucy’s own voice as she reveals her discoveries about Jane Austen,
in her letters – “her personality is there, bold as brass, bursting with life, buoyant or recalcitrant as each day required.”
Jane’s letters were “double-voiced,” giving an entertaining account to be read aloud, but with a subtext that her nearest and dearest would understand. Lucy Worsley also parallels Jane’s letters to the tweets of J K Rowling!

It is the first time I had fully appreciated that the demands of the long Napoleonic War, raising prices and causing shortages, made middling families, such as Jane’s, experience hardship but they also brought the military officers in their dashing uniforms, both aspects being the meat for Jane’s plots.

The retirement of Reverend Austen and the family’s move to Bath are described in intricate detail, underlining the dreadful effect on Jane and Cassandra. We read of the sale of all the family’s books and of Jane’s piano and her music. Leaving her home of 25 years, they move from one rented house to another among the “pea-soup fogs in Bath.” Her father’s death causing a large drop in their income shows how much she understood the importance of money to her heroines.

The frustration of Jane Austen’s life story is how poorly she was acknowledged as an author, during her lifetime and what a pittance she received when they were published. Despite the help of her father and her brother in finding publishers, novels and women writers were not yet considered worthy of great praise.

Reaching the chapter where Jane, Cassandra and Mrs Austen move back to Hampshire and settle into Chawton Cottage, I also felt as if I was coming home. I could see her sitting by her table in the cottage window, trying to write, while others moved about the compact house. The last few years of her life show Jane as a calm, determined woman with the same purpose and energy as her heroines.
This is a book for lovers of Jane Austen’s books who wish to know more about this quiet, enigmatic person. Did she have romances, were there regrets that she remained single and had no children? Did she achieve what she wished to accomplish? I suggest you read “Jane Austen at Home” to look for those answers.

Jane Austen at Home will be published on May 18th 2017 and can be pre-ordered at Amazon UK or Amazon US

(A review copy of this book was kindly provided by the publishers, Hodder & Stoughton)

Lucy Worsley

worsley

Dr Lucy Worsley is Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, the charity which looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace.

Her first paid employment after studying history at Oxford was at a minor stately home called Milton Manor, near Abingdon, where she fed the llamas. After that she became an Inspector of Ancient Monuments at English Heritage, doing historical research at Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire: this led to her first book, ‘Cavalier’, about a dissolute Royalist duke. Her work as a curator at Kensington Palace led to ‘Courtiers’, which was followed by ‘If Walls Could Talk’, ‘A Very British Murder’, and her first historical novel for young readers, ‘Eliza Rose’, which is set at the Tudor court.

#AtoZChallenge Letter V

V is for Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch painter of domestic interior scenes of everyday seventeenth century life.  Vermeer worked slowly and with great care, and frequently used very expensive pigments. He is noted for his skillful portrayal of light.  He was a reasonably successful painter in his lifetime, but he left his wife and children in debt at his death.  Nowadays Vermeer is most famous for his painting Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Vermeer

This simple picture of a woman with a milk jug inspired this poem:-

Vermeer

As long as the woman from Rijksmuseum

in painted silence and concentration

day after day pours milk

from the jug to the bowl,

the World does not deserve

the end of the world.

Wislawa Szymborska

You can find a list of all the other A to Z Challengers

 

 

 

 

#AtoZChallenge Letter P

P  is for Pablo Picasso

No-one can deny the impact and influence of the art created by Pablo Picasso.  In the early 20th century, after three years of travels around Spain and France, Picasso entered his Blue period.

guitar

blue

After meeting Fernande Oliver, who became his mistress, his paintings were influenced by his happy relationship with her and she appears in several of them.  During this Rose period his subjects were harlequins and circus folk in shades of orange and pink.

circus

Pierrot_et_Arlequin

Picasso’s African period from 1907-1909 was a blend of stylised figures as in African sculpture with the painting style of post-impressionist Cezanne and Gauguin.  His masterpiece of this period was Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

demoiselles

In 1910 he turned to more abstract art.  Working with George Braque he created cubism.

girl

Girl with a Mandolin  1910

In 1935, Pablo stopped painting for a while and began to write poetry.  Some of his poems were clearly the work of a visual artist.

Dawn

The dawn that day rose

Just as the mist of the night

Subsided like a foam descending

To reveal clear water ahead

The Bees in the hive stirred about

To retrieve more honey

It was on that day that I stared into the

Mirror of luck.

Hours passed by just

As flies whizzed under a scorchy sun

The foam above the crystal water rose again

The mist of the dusk rose high above me

shattering the mirror to grits

I plunged down from a mountain

Into the depths of dreariness

It was then that I acknowledged

What I’ve been through

It was then that I screamed

‘HEY, day! It was now that I crystallized

your power in the mirror of my mind’

And thence I sat in the chair of dreariness

Waiting for the gleams of gold and silver

To shine on once more upon the mirror.

Pablo Picasso

But most dealt strongly with his feelings.

Oranges from the south of Spain

  Oranges from the south of Spain

stars hang out at night

linen left to dry

 

red geraniums along the balconies

nodding, nodding

willing to agree to anything

just to keep their colour

 

a gang of kids running through the streets

faceless pranksters

the moon a plate held before each face

who am I? saying who am I

running through the streets saying who am I?

 

the shadows of the buildings

becoming cats that move away

the trees immobilized

left to stand alone in the dark

rubbing their bark from regret

like cicadas

 

oranges have more delicacy

softly falling, falling

in the groves

on the hills

softly eaten, eaten

by the earth

swallowed whole

as if by a snake

not earth

as if by millions

slithering in the groves at night

millions

stalking the oranges that fall softly

softly to the earth

 

hunting there in the groves

that form a ring around each town

You can find a list of all the other A to Z Challengers here

Castles in the Air: A Family Memoir of Love and Loss by Alison Ripley Cubitt

Castles

Castles in the air is a book of two halves. It tells us the life story of Alison’s mother Molly; the first half mainly using Molly’s own letters to a dear older friend, Steve and the second half a combination of Alison’s memories and her mother’s diaries.

I chose this book because I wanted to read about Molly’s experiences before and during the war as a teenager living in Hong Kong, Singapore, Ceylon and Mombasa and also her life as an expat in Malaya during the Emergency. I especially enjoyed Molly’s father’s log of their trip out to Hong Kong through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal as it reminded me of my 6-week voyage to Singapore when I was 15.

Despite periods of boredom and hard times, keeping ahead of the Japanese invasion with very little money, the early period of Molly’s life is full of interest, but her married life is not so easy and despite, or maybe because of sheer hard work, both Molly and her husband endure considerable unhappiness.

In this memoir, Alison is frank and honest, exposing the rifts and suffering in her family life while also showing clearly how much her mother loved her and did her best for all three children. There are so many “if onlys” in Molly’s life which could have made it so much better or so much worse. An interesting read.

#FridayFiveChallenge

Welcome to my Friday Five Challenge
(Original idea from Rosie Amber at https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/)

cat coff

To join in with the #FridayFiveChallenge please read the rules at the bottom of the page

This week I searched for a book on the “Far East” thinking I would find something about World War Two in Hong Kong or Singapore or maybe a story set in Malaysia during the post-war emergency but in fact, the book which caught my eye was actually set in India, which is in the East but not the Far East if you are British.  However this is an American book with a very catchy title, Peanut Butter and Naan by Jennifer Hillman-Magnuson

Peanut Butter

Book Description

Fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants mom Jennifer Magnuson knew her spoiled suburban brood needed a wake-up call—she just couldn’t find the time to fit one in. But when her husband was offered a position in India, she saw it for what it was: the perfect opportunity for her family to unplug from their over-scheduled and pampered lives in Nashville and gain some much-needed perspective. What she didn’t realize was how much their time in India would transform her as well.

A combination of Eat, Pray, Love and Modern Family, with a dash of Chelsea Handler thrown in for good measure, Peanut Butter and Naan is Magnuson’s hilarious look at the chaos of parenting against a backdrop of malaria, extreme poverty, and no conveniences of any kind—and her story of rediscovering herself and revitalizing her connection with those she loves the most. In India, after years of parenting under a cloud of anxiety, Magnuson found a renewed sense of adventure and fearlessness (a discovery that was totally worth the many months of hiding anti-malarial medication in her kids’ morning oatmeal), and started to become the mother she’d always hoped to be. Hers is a story about motherhood that will not only make you laugh and nod with recognition—it will inspire you to fall in love with your own family all over again.

There are no reviews on Amazon.co.uk but on Amazon.com 84% of the reviews are 5 star.  Most follow this theme:-

Both heartwarming and hilarious, Jennifer’s stories of navigating a foreign land and the culture shock that accompanies it, are inspiring and entertaining. This family makes the most of a unique opportunity, learning valuable lessons about one another and the bigger world outside of their comfortable existence back home. A fantastic page-turner!

At £7.72 for a kindle this seems rather expensive but presumably this is because it is produced in the US.  I am very tempted as I do find TV programmes about India fascinating. Shall I BUY or will I PASS? I’m going to PASS, until the price is reduced.

What have others chosen this week?

Barb is waiting for the letter inviting her to Witchcraft school http://barbtaub.com/2015/10/30/did-you-get-your-letter-yet-fridayfivechallenge-from-rosieamber1/comment-page-1/#comment-139358

Shelley shows us a book about NaNoWriMo writing a novel in 30 days http://shelleywilsonauthor.com/2015/10/30/would-you-buy-or-pass-nonfiction-fiction-unboxed-fridayfivechallenge/

Rosie has gone to tea with the Ladies Detective Agency https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/would-you-buy-or-pass-fridayfivechallenge-tea-time-for-the-traditionally-built-mccallsmith/

Cathy has also gone East for an adventure in Myanmar http://betweenthelinesbookblog.com/2015/10/30/fridayfivechallenge-buy-or-pass-emerald-buddha-by-russell-blake-blakebooks-adventure/

So now it’s your turn.

Get yourself a cuppa and give yourself 5 minutes.

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions from small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

Rosie’s Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book, and any other details.

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?