The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman

This is one of the best historical novels I’ve read. Thanks to my friend Yasmin Cooper who mentioned this to me as one of her favourites and gave me a copy to read. The author explores some of the discrepancies in the Houses of York and Lancaster story covering the late medieval period. Anyone who is familiar with English history is well aware that the Wars of the Roses culminated in the brutal murder of Richard III in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth. After Henry VII was crowned the new king of England, he married Elizabeth of York and their marriage symbolically brought an end to the Wars of the Roses and the unification of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster that created the ‘Tudor Rose’ which is widely recognised as the floral heraldic emblem of England.  Continue reading

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The Beta Mum: Adventures in Alpha Land

This is the very first novel I’ve read within 24 hours.  Yes, all 234 pages in one day!  I hardly ever read fiction nowadays (mainly because I prefer history and biography), but I simply couldn’t put it down till I turned to the last page.  Continue reading

The Last Courts of Europe

This rare and massive book is full of captivating old photographs of European royal families (mostly in ball gowns dripping in diamonds and other precious stones) during the Victorian and Edwardian era leading up to the outbreak of the First World War. Many of the featured dynasties were abolished, or forced to abdicate after the war. Continue reading

Extraordinary, Ordinary People by Condoleezza Rice

Condoleeza Rice is unarguably one of the most influential women in the world today.  She became the youngest and first female National Security Advisor, and the first black female Secretary of State.  Her childhood and upbringing clearly set the scene in a way that will make anyone reading this book to conclude that her parents deserve the credit given to them by their daughter.  She was born and grew up in segregated South in the 1950s with music-loving parents, both educators (her dad was also a Methodist preacher), who encouraged her from an early age to excel twice than her peers. Continue reading

A Life in Food

This is a beautiful coffee table book written by Ms Bea Tollman, the founder and president of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection (composed of thirteen boutique hotels). It is an enjoyable read with captivating stories about the author’s modest beginnings in South Africa to becoming a very successful hotelier.  Continue reading

In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn by Morris & Grueninger

I have been fascinated by the story of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII’s second wife, who was tragically beheaded at the Tower of London on 19 May 1536.  The Tudor period is on top of my list of the most intriguing eras of English history.  When reading a book about this period, I am always enthralled by Henry VIII’s evil scheme to get rid of his wife to achieve his goal to produce an heir; the conspiracy among his circle of trusted courtiers; and all the other fascinating events usually inspire me to read up more about the Tudors. Continue reading

Life Below Stairs, Allison Maloney (A Review)

The award winning ITV television mini-series Downton Abbey, piqued my interest about the  social history of the Edwardian Period.  I have only watched the first series (on youtube) simply because I am not fond of soap operas, and I must say that Downton Abbey is a posh soap opera.  Rather than watch the whole series I decided to read books on social history of the era, which is so much more profitable and enjoyable.

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The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes (Book Review)

The author Jessica Fellowes, niece of the creator and writer of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes, was not only privy to the inside scoop of the production of the series but she is also an author and journalist and well qualified to write the book. Equally important is the photographer Nick Briggs, who captured awe inspiring images of the production that would transport Downton fans back into memorable scenes. Creator Julian Fellowes rightfully opens the book with a brief introduction, offering us insights. Continue reading

The Strangest Family by Janice Hadlow (Book Review)

I love history. I like stories and I am interested in people, and the two seem to perfectly come together when reading history. Although I’ve read a lot of books about the Tudor, Stuart and Victorian era, the Georgian period hasn’t really caught my attention until recently. The play/movie ‘The Madness of King George’ has sparked my interest in the 18th century social history — the story of the people of Jane Austen’s novels, who watched as revolutions raged on the continent and who lived through enormous political, industrial, economic and social change. Continue reading