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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog There Will Be Consequences by Loretta Miles Tollefson A gripping novel set within a changeable, dangerous, and exciting historical period #OldNewMexico

Hi all:

I had the pleasure of getting a very early copy of a book by an author I met through Rosie’s Book Review Team and has become a big favourite of mine since. She writes historical fiction, but in this case she has written what she calls a ‘biographical novel’, where she never deviates from the historical facts and tries to give a voice to many of the historical characters involved. I was impressed by the results, and I recommend you check them for yourselves.

Cover of the novel, which includes a Native American man, a warrior, and a landscape of mountains
There Will be Consequences by Loretta Miles Tollefson

There Will be Consequences by Loretta Miles Tollefson

“It’s August 3, 1837, and rebellion has broken out in northern New Mexico. By the end of the week, Governor Albino Pérez and key members of his administration will be dead, and a governor with indigenous ancestry will be installed in Santa Fe. 

Trouble’s been brewing for over a year, fed by new laws restricting the right to vote, the threat of new taxes, and a governor who’s quicker to borrow money than distribute it. On top of that, Pérez has jailed the Santa Cruz de la Cañada alcalde for making a decision he didn’t like. The locals free the alcalde and go to war, campesinos and Pueblo warriors against the ricos of the south.   

But the rich aren’t about to give up their privileges so easily. More people will die before the violence ends.

 A deeply-researched biographical novel with implications for today, There Will be Consequences explores the events before, during, and after early August 1837 through the eyes of the people who participated in them. Twelve linked stories propel the narrative forward from the perspective of individuals as diverse as Albino Pérez, rebel governor José Angel Gonzales, Santa Fe gambler Gertrudis “Doña Tules” Barceló, Taos priest Antonio José Martinez, and that most flexible of New Mexico’s politicians, Manuel Armijo.”

 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09KVL1M7J/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09KVL1M7J/

https://www.amazon.es/dp/B09KVL1M7J/

Author Loretta Miles Tollefson
      Author Loretta Miles Tollefson

About the author:

Loretta Miles Tollefson has been publishing fiction and poetry since 1975. (She’s not old–she started young!) Growing up in foothills of the Olympic Mountains in the log cabin her grandfather built and her father was born in led naturally to an interest in history and historical fiction. When she retired to the mountains of northern New Mexico, writing historical fiction set there was a logical result. The Moreno Valley Sketches books are the first in many planned books set there.

Before turning to historical fiction full time, Loretta wrote Crown of Laurel, a novel set in Seattle in the recession of the early 1980’s. Loretta holds a B.S. in Bible Education from Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon. This background informs her poetry collections Mary at the Cross: Voices from the New Testament and And Then Moses Was There: Voices from the Old Testament.

In the mid-1980’s, Loretta and her husband suffered the loss of their first child in the fifth month of pregnancy. Her poetry collection But Still My Child came out of that period and is designed to help others deal with the pain of miscarriage.

Loretta holds M.A.’s in Communication and in English Literature from the University of New Mexico. Most days, you’ll find her researching New Mexico history in the 1800’s and writing furiously. She publishes short historical fiction every week at LorettaMilesTollefson.Wordpress.com.

https://www.amazon.com/Loretta-Miles-Tollefson/e/B00I47VVZ4/

 My review:

I was given access to a very early copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review.

I have read and reviewed several of the author’s series of Old New Mexico novels, which includes some interlinked stories following the same characters, and others that explore in more detail the background of one of the side-characters, as well as different types of fiction, such as short stories and microfiction. I was initially intrigued by the setting of the stories, as it is a place that I know very little about but one I’ve always been interested in, and I have come to appreciate how much one can learn from a good historical novel while at the same time enjoying the fictional side of the story.

Here, Miles Tollefson takes on a new challenge that I think many of us will identify with: you are researching a historical period or an event and cannot find a detailed and unbiased account of what happened. The author goes into her thoughts and the particular difficulties she came across when researching the August 1837 rebellion in New Mexico in her author’s note, and it is a must-read, as is this book described as a ‘biographical novel’. Although it follows the events chronologically, each chapter is told from a different point of view, by characters who were directly involved or witnessed what happened, on both sides. And she does include a big variety of voices: women, children, priests, rich owners, governors (both rebel and official), military men, rebel fighters… sometimes right in the thick of the action, and sometimes in the outskirts of it, providing an immersive experience.

There are twelve chapters that could be read as independent episodes (making it ideal for people with little time who can only manage to snatch a few minutes to read, here and there), but together create a clear and vivid picture of the historical era and the people involved in those events. By writing each chapter from a different point of view, but always in the third person and in the present tense (not something I generally like, but it gives the narrative immediacy and a sense of continuity), it has the effect of a jigsaw puzzle, where each piece has been slightly twisted this way or that, but with a bit of effort, we can find a way to make them fit. The author does a great job of putting flesh in the bones of the facts she has found and of filling in the gaps in as non-judgmental a way as possible. She explains the biases in the reporting of the events she covers in her novel, and she excels at presenting each individual and their thoughts in their own terms, rather than trying to impose her interpretation on them. It is easy to see how the conflict would have escalated, with such differing and seemingly irreconcilable opinions, positions, and points of view. Even those characters whom we might totally disagree with are shown as human beings with their reasons and motives, and it does feel at times as if you were there, willing everybody to come to an agreement and avoid the bloodshed, but also knowing that it will happen nonetheless. This is a novel that will make people think about these kinds of conflicts, and, hopefully, also understand a bit better how easy it is to escalate matters when the positions become entrenched and people are unable to put themselves in somebody else’s shoes.

Readers don’t need to worry about not having read any of the author’s novels set in New Mexico or not knowing about this historical period, as that is not necessary to enjoy this book. (Enjoy never seems to be the best word when much of the book describes painful and violent events, but I am sure readers know what I mean). This book can be read independently, although I enjoyed learning more about the historical events that feature as background in some of the author’s novels I’ve read. Miles-Toffeson also incorporates a list of character biographies at the end, a vocabulary (including Spanish and unusual English terms used in the book), and also a short bibliography for those who might want to learn more about the historical events featured here.

This is a book about a rebellion, and there are some terribly hard scenes, so I would warn readers who need to avoid explicit violence and blood-shed, as some of the chapters are very hard (even for somebody who does not have an issue with it. Knowing that this is based on real events makes it more poignant). The writing is excellent throughout, descriptive enough without going into excessive detail, and it manages to turn readers into privileged witnesses of the action, down to the protagonists’ thoughts. I am no historian, so I cannot comment in detail on the accuracy of the language and/or events described, but the dialogue and the characters jump off the page, and at times one feels like grabbing the characters, shaking them, and giving them all a piece of your mind. Remember you can always check a sample of the book to see if the style of writing suits your taste. As my copy was a very early ARC, I have decided not to share any quotes from it, but I highlighted plenty of passages, and some have left a long-lasting impression.

 I recommend this book to anybody interested in New Mexico’s story or historical fiction with a difference. I think there is much here that will interest writers who work in the same genre, as well as any reader looking for a gripping novel set within a changeable, dangerous, and exciting historical period.

Thanks to the author for providing me with an early copy of the book (and for the information about its progress), thanks to Rosie for helping me discover this author, thanks to all of you for reading, for sharing, for commenting, and always,  remember to stay safe, and to keep smiling.

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog BACKSTORIES by Simon Van Der Velde (@SimonVdVwriter ) Engaging, clever, informative, and beautifully crafted #RBRT #shortstories

Hi all:

I bring you a book that resists easy classification. It is a collection of short stories (sort of), non-fiction biographies (sort of), and also a quiz/challenge for the reader. Rosie never fails in her selection of reading material, that’s for sure.

Backstories by Simon Van Der Velde

Backstories by Simon Van Der Velde 

Can you find the famous person hidden in every story? And once found, can you understand them?

‘Ingenious idea, brilliantly executed’ – Daily Mirror

Backstories – ‘the stand-out most original book of the year’ – is a collection of stories each told from the point of view of one of my personal heroes, (or villains) back when they were just another Jew or black, or queer – back when they were nobody. Bullied, assaulted or psychologically abused, their road to redemption was never easy, and for some there would be no redemption, only a descent into evil.

These are the stories of people you know. The settings are mostly 60’s and 70’s UK and USA, the driving themes are inclusion and social justice – but the real key to these stories is that I withhold the protagonists’ identities. This means that your job is to find them – leading to that Eureka moment when you realise who’s mind you’ve been inhabiting for the last twenty minutes.

I should also add that this is a book that operates on two levels. Yes, there’s the game of identifying the mystery activist or actor, singer or murderer, but there is then the more serious business of trying to understand them. This in turn leads to the challenge of overlaying what you now know about these famous people onto what you thought you knew – not to mention the inherent challenge to your moral compass.

These are people you know, but not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.

This book is dedicated to the victims of violent crime, the struggle against discrimination in all its forms and making the world a better place for our children. That is why 30% of all profits will be shared between Stop Hate UK, The North East Autism Society and Friends of the Earth.

Simon Van der Velde January, 2021

Backstories is published by Smoke & Mirrors Press.

MY BACKSTORIES QUEST

“Whatever happened to, all of the heroes?” The Stranglers 1977

was twelve years old when I first heard this song and although there was something in the feral tone that grabbed me, I didn’t really understand it. I do now. I get the angst and the loss and the emptiness, which is why, in Backstories, I aim to answer the question.

I’m not interested in simplistic tabloid truths. They clung on too long, drank too much, lost their looks and their charm and generally reminded us that we’re all getting older. That’s not what I want from my heroes.

What I want is to find the spark, to dig down into their pain, their passions and their imperfections, and show you our heroes as they truly are.

So join me on my quest. Let’s bypass the obvious, the tedious, and the dull, and brave the deeper, darker paths where the treasures can be found – and together we’ll uncover the fears and doubts that made our heroes what they were and perhaps catch a glimpse of ourselves along the way.

Whatever happened to all of the heroes? They turned out to be human beings, in all their diverse glory.

Simon Van der Velde January, 2021 

https://www.amazon.com/Backstories-Simon-Van-Velde-ebook/dp/B08R7P65Y3/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Backstories-Simon-Van-Velde-ebook/dp/B08R7P65Y3/

https://www.amazon.es/Backstories-Simon-Van-Velde-ebook/dp/B08R7P65Y3/

Author Simon Van Der Velde

About the author: 

Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, laborer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as traveling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters for his award-winning stories. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including; The Yeovil Literary Prize, (twice), The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Frome Prize, and The Harry Bowling Prize – establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers.

Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, labradoodle and two tyrannical children.

https://www.amazon.com/Simon-Van-Der-Velde/e/B08SKCFFNY/

 My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you are interested in getting your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for this opportunity.

I enjoy short stories, but recently I have not read as many as I used to, preferring to read novels that build up more slowly and give you the opportunity to get to know the characters and see how they evolve over time. So this was a bit of an unusual choice for me, but I kept reading intriguing reviews of this book, and after checking it out, I had to read the whole thing. And it was worth it.

I had never read anything by the author, although he has been writing for a while and his short stories have earned him a variety of awards and accolades, but I suspect this won’t be the last of his books I read, and he is already preparing the second volume of Backstories for publication.

It is a bit difficult to talk about this book in any detail without giving too much away. The author explains his goals and what the book is about quite clearly in his description, so I won’t go over it again. I am not sure that I would describe it as a collection of short stories. Some are biographical vignettes, moments in somebody’s life (or their backstories, if we like), where something momentous happened, or is about to happen (in some cases), while others fit in more easily with the standard understanding of a short story containing a full narrative. In some ways, I guess it is the reader’s job to complete the story, by guessing who the protagonist is and understanding how that snippet fits in with the rest of the person’s life, how significant or important it might be, and how much it reveals of what we know happened next to the person.

In some cases, we see a famous person (some are musicians, some important historical figures, some sports personalities, some less-than-savoury characters…) as children or very young adults, and the author cleverly creates a picture of who they were and how that relates to whom they will become. Sometimes, we see somebody on the verge of doing something that would change things forever, and at others, we get an inkling of what things might have been like if something hadn’t happened or circumstances had been different. One of the stories illustrated perfectly a quandary I’ve had for years about a historical figure as if the author had read my mind, but I’ll keep my peace about it as well.

There are 14 stories, tightly written, some in the first and some in the third person, and they move quickly, the style of writing easy but at the same time adapted to the personality, the era, and the location of the individual portrayed by each. Most of them are told from the point of view of the famous person, although there are some in which we see them reflected through somebody else’s eyes. It is very difficult to stop reading the stories, especially if you enjoy guessing games or quizzes, as one gets gripped by what is happening at the time and also hooked on trying to find who the person is. If you want to know how well I got on, yes, I guessed all of them (although in one of the cases I had only a passing acquaintance with the character, and I ended up checking to make sure), and some had me scratching my head until the very end or changing my mind several times as I read, while others I suspected from early on.

I enjoyed them all, in different ways (some because I felt the build-up of the situation, others because the story itself was moving and/or inspiring, some because I loved the protagonists, and some because they chilled me to the bone), and I think most readers will find some that work better for them than others, particularly if they admire some of the protagonists, but there isn’t a bad one in the lot. These are not sanitized and clean stories, and readers must be warned that they will find all kinds of violence, abuse, prejudice… depicted in its pages. The author has explained his reasoning behind his choices, and a percentage of the book’s earnings will go to good causes, so this is more than justified, in my opinion.

I recommend this highly enjoyable collection to anybody who loves quizzes, who has ever wondered what happened before historical figures or famous people became who they are, and particularly to those who prefer their reading short, crisp, and based on facts rather than fancy. And, if you like the formula, don’t forget that there is a second book coming your way soon.

Thanks to Rosie and her team for their support, thanks to the author for his book, and thanks to all of you for reading, liking, sharing, commenting, and for always being there. Keep safe and always keep smiling!

 

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE OTHER MRS. SAMSON by Ralph Webster (@Ralph_Webster) Biographical historical fiction for fans of women’s stories and XIX and XX narratives #RBRT

Hi all:

I bring you novel/fictionalised biography that I found fascinating. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

The Other Mrs. Samson by Ralph Webster

The Other Mrs. Samson by Ralph Webster

Surviving two wars, sharing one husband, searching for answers.

A hidden compartment in a black lacquer cabinet left in an attic reveals the secrets of two incredible women: Hilda, born and raised in one of the wealthiest Jewish families in turn-of-the-century San Francisco, and Katie, whose early life in Germany is marked by tragedy and death. Their lives are forever entwined by their love of the same man, the brilliant and compassionate Dr. Josef Samson.

From the earliest, rough-and-tumble days of San Francisco, through the devastation of the Great War in Berlin and the terrors of Vichy France, and then to a new yet uncertain life in New York City, their stories span the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century. In the end, one of these women will complete the life of the other and make a startling discovery about the husband they share.

https://www.amazon.com/Other-Mrs-Samson-Ralph-Webster-ebook/dp/B08NYYWMHN/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Other-Mrs-Samson-Ralph-Webster-ebook/dp/B08NYYWMHN/

https://www.amazon.es/Other-Mrs-Samson-Ralph-Webster-ebook/dp/B08NYYWMHN/

Author Ralph Webster

About the author:

Award-winning author Ralph Webster received worldwide acclaim for his first book, A Smile in One Eye: A Tear in the Other, which tells the story of his father’s flight from the Holocaust. Voted by readers as a Goodreads 2016 Choice Awards Nominee for Best Memoir/Autobiography, A Smile in One Eye: A Tear in the Other, his second book, One More Moon, and now his third book, The Other Mrs. Samson, are proven book club selections for thought-provoking and engaging discussions. Whether in person or online, Ralph welcomes and values his exchanges with readers and makes every effort to participate in conversations about his books. Now retired, he lives with his wife, Ginger, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in the U.S.

Please contact Ralph via his websites to schedule via Zoom, Skype, or in person for your book club.

https://www.amazon.com/Ralph-Webster/e/B01HRYKN9Y/

https://ralphwebster-author.com/

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I was provided an ARC copy of the novel I freely chose to review. Well, I’m not sure “novel” is the best word to define this book, but more on that, later.

As the description of the book suggests, this is the story of two women, told by them, although somewhat indirectly. This is one of those books (they are also quite a few movies, mostly adaptations of novels), which follow similar plots, or use a similar “frame” to tell a story: somebody finds a book, diary, collection of letters, etc., sometimes belonging to a parent, another relative, a friend, sometimes to somebody they’ve never met, and then, as if in a long flashback, we get to hear (or see) the story of that other person. Most of these stories tend to include some secret or major revelation towards the end, which casts a new light on the characters and their lives. In this book, a couple have inherited a piece of furniture (a lacquered cabinet) from an elderly woman they met through one of their relatives (they had been friends for decades and met regularly to have lunch and share news), and whom they became friendly with after their relative’s passing. By pure chance, they discover a secret drawer in the cabinet and inside there are (with some extra bits) two diaries/documents narrating the stories of two women who’d been married to the same man at very different moments in time (and also at very different historical periods). What makes the book particularly interesting is that in the acknowledgments’ section, the author talks about the process of development of the book, the help he got translating letters, etc., and also the fact that he changed some names, so this is not a work of fiction in its entirety, but rather a fictionalisation of the lives of two women. This makes sense, especially considering that the author (whose work I hadn’t read before) is well known for his work writing/adapting memoirs and biographies. The note doesn’t clarify how much of the content is fictionalised, but I found the category of biographical historical fiction that the book is classed under more than appropriate.

What I most liked about the book is the historical sweep and the amount of detail about the periods it covers, and also the two main characters (or the two narrators, to be more specific), Hilda and Katie. As Hilda’s narration also includes details about her grandparents and her parents, we get treated to a chronicle of life from the early XIX century in Germany —the immigration of her ancestors to the United States (and San Francisco in particular) from old Europe, a description of her own life as a well-off debutante and a young woman —through to the late XIX and early XX century. We hear about the fires, the earthquake, we read about what travelling was like, and also about Hilda’s visits to Germany and her contact with a distant cousin who would become her husband, Josef. She moves to Germany, totally changing her husband’s life, and acknowledges her difficulties adapting to a new place, to living with somebody else, and also, later, describes how their life is affected by WWI. Hilda can be spoilt and whimsical, but she is determined to have her own life and not to simply become a doctor’s wife. Katie, on the other hand, is much younger than her husband, her social circumstances and education are very different to those of Josef (and Hilda) and they first meet while she is looking after his elderly mother. This takes place much later (in the late 1920s-early 1930s), and we follow her through a somewhat odd courting, then she joins him in France (he is Jewish and leaves Germany soon after Hitler comes into power), and she adapts her life to his, following him in his increasingly desperate attempts to leave Europe. The two narratives are in the first person, and Hilda and Katie have pretty different personalities which clearly come across in their parts of the story. While Hilda is more expressive and outgoing, Katie has seen a lot of suffering from a very young age, prefers quiet pursuits, and is happy to try to fit in with others and avoid confrontation.

This is a book full of little details that play important parts in the story, objects that come to symbolise aspects of the relationship of the two women with their husbands and also illustrate their personalities (while Hilda doesn’t get on with Josef’s mother and insists on standing her ground, Katie adapts to Josef’s mother’s somewhat overbearing personality and becomes a beloved companion of the old woman; Hilda dislikes the piano seat Josef can’t bear to part with but only convinces him to reupholster it, while Katie convinces him to get a two-seater piano bench; Katie’s father gives her a clock that becomes a stand-in for the past and for old memories and times). As we read the story we come to realise that Josef’s life has changed little, and we can’t help but wonder about the story of these women and about the man himself. There is a twist at the end, which helps explain some things, but it leaves as many questions unanswered as it solves.

I am not sure that there is anything I dislike about the book. By its own nature and the way the story is narrated, there is a lot of telling, but the stories told are so fascinating that I didn’t mind at all, and other than the occasional German word (which is usually translated or explained in the text), the text is easy to read with no sudden jumps in point of view or chronology, apart from the framing story. Katie’s account will, perhaps, be more familiar to readers, as there has been an upsurge in stories about WWII, and I know some readers didn’t feel that part quite matched the intensity of the other, but I was intrigued by the character, her relationship with her husband and her attitude towards life (although I don’t have much, if anything, in common with her). Of course, readers who dislike telling or like elaborate plots that move the story along without a pause might feel frustrated by the story and the style of the narrative, but I liked the way the two stories fitted together and felt the technique used to tell the story is well suited to the material.

I recommend this book to readers of historical fiction, especially those interested in XIX and XX century German and American History, to people who enjoy biographies and/or fictionalised biographies, and particularly to those who like to read about women’s lives in the past. If you’re looking for a page-turner full of sensational adventures and larger-than-life characters, on the other hand, this is not the book for you. I look forward to discovering more of the author’s book and will follow his career with interest.

 Thanks to the author for the book, thanks to Rosie and to the members of the team for their ongoing support, thanks to all of you for reading, and make sure you keep safe. ♥

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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview WHAT REGENCY WOMEN DID FOR US by Rachel Knowles (@RegencyHistory) (@penswordbooks) #history #Regency A gripping book about twelve extraordinary women

Hi, all:

I bring you a review of a non-fiction book from the Pen & Sword history collection. A great read.

What Regency Women Did for Us by Rachel Knowles
What Regency Women Did for Us by Rachel Knowles

What Regency Women Did For Us by Rachel Knowles A gripping book about twelve extraordinary women

Regency women inhabited a very different world from the one in which we live today. Considered intellectually inferior to men, they received little education and had very few rights. This book tells the inspirational stories of twelve women, from very different backgrounds, who overcame often huge obstacles to achieve success. These women were pioneers, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs, authors, scientists and actresses women who made an impact on their world and ours. In her debut nonfiction work, popular history blogger Rachel Knowles tells how each of these remarkable ladies helped change the world they lived in and whose legacy is still evident today. Two hundred years later, their stories are still inspirational.

https://www.amazon.com/What-Regency-Women-Did-Us-ebook/dp/B06ZXZ3NHS/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Regency-Women-Did-Us-ebook/dp/B06ZXZ3NHS/

Author Rachel Knowles
Author Rachel Knowles

About the author

Rachel Knowles is the author of the popular Regency History blog. She lives in Weymouth, Dorset, on the south coast of England, with her husband, Andrew, and has four grown-up daughters.
Please visit Rachel’s website: www.regencyhistory.net

https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Knowles/e/B00XYK33RA/

My review:

I received a copy of this paperback from Pen & Sword History and I freely chose to review the book.

This is another great book by Pen & Sword that are quickly becoming one of my favourite publishing companies for non-fiction books.

This small volume is packed with information. After a brief introduction that sets the Regency period, particularly how life was for women at the time, the book discusses the lives of twelve women who played an important role in the UK during that period. As the author comments, they were not the only women of note at the time, but they did make a significant difference to Britain, and a difference that survives to this day. They come from all walks of life, their professions or interests are diverse, some were married and had children but half of them never married, and I must confess that although I knew some of them, I had never heard of the others. And I learned a great deal by reading this book even about the ones I was somewhat familiar with.

By now, you must be wondering who these twelve women are.

Chapter 1 is dedicated to Eleanor Coade, whom the author calls ‘the king’s stone maker’, a business woman who took charge of the artificial stone manufactory that bore her name and was very good at creating a high-quality product and also at marketing. I had never realised that many of the statues, garden sculptures, and facades of buildings I have visited were made using her stone.

Chapter 2 introduces us to Caroline Herschel, who always keen to assist her brother, became an astronomer of note in her own right (and she discovered many comets).

Sarah Siddons, the actress that lifted the reputation of actresses and well known for her tragic roles, is discussed in chapter 3.

Marie Tussaud, of Madame Tussaud’s fame, is the subject of chapter 4. And although I was familiar with the wax museum, I discovered I didn’t know much about this fascinating woman.

Chapter 5 is dedicated to Mary Parminter, mountaineer, traveller, and benefactress to other women.

Writer and mother of historical fiction Maria Edgeworth is discussed in chapter 6.

In chapter 7 we learn about Jane Marcet, a woman so eager to learn and to help others learn, that she wrote the chemistry for dummies of the period, so that women and people who had not had access to much formal education could understand the subject. She used the format of a dialogue between female students and teacher and also provided examples of experiments that could easily be done at home. Faraday gave her credit for his early steps in science and she was very well regarded and a best-seller of the time.

Chapter 8 is taken up by Sarah Guppy, who was an amateur engineer and although did not always get credit for her inventions she truly deserves to be in this book.

Jane Austen is the subject of chapter 9. Although she died during the period, the author chose to include her. She is probably the most famous woman in the book, and the one I knew more about, but I learned some new things and her chapter is a good introduction to readers who are not familiar with her life, works, and period.

Harriot Mellon had an awful childhood but she went on to become an actress and eventually a banker, and her private bank exists to this day. And her legacy, that found its way into many charitable causes, has also endured.

Elizabeth Fry is perhaps best known for having been on the back of the £5 note for a while. I read about her when I studied Criminology, as she was a big prison reformer, but I did not know about her role in creating a training school for nurses well before Florence Nightingale, and her life is fascinating. She was a truly passionate and generous woman, always devoted to improving the lives of others.

The last woman the author chooses to include is Mary Anning. She was from humble origins but became a great fossilist and her fossils are still on display in many museums today.

Knowles has chosen a fantastic group of women to write about. Her writing style is fluid, easy to follow, and includes both information about the personal lives of these women and about their contributions to the period. These brief biographical chapters are a good introduction to anybody who wants to get some idea about what women’s lives were like at the time, whilst at the same time providing a glimpse into what made these twelve women extraordinary. Their intelligence, their determination, and their passion shine through in those few pages. I must confess I would be happy to read a whole book on any and all of these women.

I recommend this book to anybody interested in women’s history or looking for an introduction into the Regency Period that looks more closely at the role women played. It is a gripping read and I hope it will go some way to help these women get the attention they deserve.

Thanks so much to Pen & Sword (Alex in particular), to the author, and thanks to all of you for reading, and don’t forget to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!

[amazon_link asins=’158297280X,B00KSERAQA,0141395206,1624860648,0892365579,B073RLV6B1,0199537550,0230103421′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’wwwauthortran-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’27cd3667-aa82-11e7-8054-61c661fb7a00′]

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