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Review: ‘Dunstan’. by Conn Iggulden

Published by: Penguin

Publication Date: 4th May 2017

Format: Hardback

I.S.B.N.:  9780718181444

Price: £18.99

Blurb

The year is 937. England is a nation divided, ruled by minor kings and Viking lords. Each vies for land and power. The Wessex king Æthelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, readies himself to throw a spear into the north.

As would-be kings line up to claim the throne, one man stands in their way.

Dunstan, a fatherless child raised by monks on the moors of Glastonbury Tor, has learned that real power comes not from God, but from discovering one’s true place on Earth. Fearless in pursuit of his own interests, his ambition will take him from the courts of princes to the fields of battle, from exile to exaltation.

For if you cannot be born a king, or made a king, you can still anoint a king.

Under Dunstan’s hand, England may come together as one country – or fall apart in anarchy . . .

From Conn Iggulden, one of our finest historical writers, Dunstan is an intimate portrait of a priest and murderer, liar and visionary, traitor and kingmaker – the man who changed the fate of England.

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Review: ‘Who’s to blame?’, by Jane Marlow

Published by: River Grove Books

Publication date: 18th October 2016

I.S.B.N.: 9781632991041

Blurb

Set during the mid-1800s in the vast grain fields of Russian, Who Is to Blame? follows the lives of two star-crossed serfs, Elizaveta and Feodor, torn apart by their own families and the Church while simultaneously trapped in the inhumane life of poverty to which they were born.

At the other end of the spectrum, Count Maximov and his family struggle to maintain harmony amidst a tapestry of deception and debauchery woven by the Count’s son. The plot twists further when the Tsar emancipates twenty million serfs from bondage while the rural gentry’s life of privilege and carelessness has taken its final bow and much of Russia’s nobility faces possible financial ruin.

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Review: ‘Victoria’, by Daisy Goodwin

Published By: St. Martins Press

Publication Date: 22nd November 2016

I.S.B.N.: 9781250045461

Blurb

“They think I am still a little girl who is not capable of being a Queen.”

Lord Melbourne turned to look at Victoria. “They are mistaken. I have not known you long, but I observe in you a natural dignity that cannot be learnt. To me, ma’am, you are every inch a Queen.”

 

In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….

Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.

My Review

Biography in novel form. Not half bad either. The development of Victoria during her first few years as queen is developed and explored in a sympathetic manner and with skillful storytelling. Occasionally the biography breaks through the novelisation and it becomes very obvious that the author is dumping information rather than telling the story, but it only happens three or four times and barely detracts from the flow at all.

Definitely one for fans of Victorian history and Queen Vicky herself.

3/5

Review: ‘The Other Einstein’ by Maria Benedict

Publication date: 18th October 2016

Published by: Sourcebooks Landmarks

BLURB

A vivid and mesmerizing novel about the extraordinary woman who married and worked with one of the greatest scientists in history.

What secrets may have lurked in the shadows of Albert Einstein’s fame? His first wife, Mileva “Mitza” Marić, was more than the devoted mother of their three children—she was also a brilliant physicist in her own right, and her contributions to the special theory of relativity have been hotly debated for more than a century.

In 1896, the extraordinarily gifted Mileva is the only woman studying physics at an elite school in Zürich. There, she falls for charismatic fellow student Albert Einstein, who promises to treat her as an equal in both love and science. But as Albert’s fame grows, so too does Mileva’s worry that her light will be lost in her husband’s shadow forever.

A literary historical in the tradition of The Paris Wife and Mrs. PoeThe Other Einstein reveals a complicated partnership that is as fascinating as it is troubling.


My review

This was a really good novel, told in first person past tense, and narrated by Mileva Maric as she goes from an incredibly intelligent and optimistic student to a tired housewife with two young children and an absent husband. Obviously it is fiction but the book is well researched and delves in to the private lives of the Einsteins. Mileva Maric was an amazingly talented physicist and mathematician who was forced to give up all her work for her marriage and was probably instrumental in the four 1905 papers that made Albert Einstein’s name.

The writing was really fluid and easy to read. The only problem I had was with the occasional information dumps that didn’t quite fit into the plot.

Review: ‘The Secrets of Gaslight Lane’ by M.R.C. Kasasian

Hello! I hope everyone’s enjoying the summer? I’m back with a book review. I’ve had a dodgy couple of weeks but I’m feeling better, I think. I’m resting mostly and limiting contact with people because of the exhaustion. Last week I had an ‘aural overstimulation’ day, my head felt like it was being invade by every noise no matter how quiet and that my mind was being bombarded (does anyone else get that?). I had to retreat to my room and silence. It happens sometimes and I can get nasty if I don’t have time in silence. Anyway, on with the book review.

The Gower Street Detective, Book 4

Publisher: Head of Zeus
Format: E-Book (also available in Export Trade Paperback, Hardback, Paperback)
Published: 2nd June 2016
ISBN: 9781781859742

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