A Respectable Trade by Philippa Gregory
I think this must be one of Gregory’s heftier books, perhaps even a novel. I mention this as most of her books are fairly short and easy to digest. In a way this is one of her best, mostly down to her encapsulating method of description. I could really picture myself standing along side the protagonists, watching their story unfold thanks to all the details Gregory inserted. But, this was long! Such a long read, at first I struggled to really want to continue to read, then it got sort of interesting, but then it returned to borderline dull and dramatic. Perhaps I could better describe this book with an oxymoron, interestingly dull or dramatically plain (is that one?!)?
I really enjoyed the slave perspective, it was clear that Gregory had worked really hard to get traditions and history correct. The western characters were much more vulgar, exaggerated and on reflection I believe this was done deliberately. A way for me to empathize with the African natives…….thinking about it more I love that she did this. Historical fiction can be so biased, that is what they say isn’t it, history is only written by the winner!
I award this 4 stars, for her efforts and details.
12 years a slave by Solomon Northup
The whole world is talking about 12 years a slave, the film not the book. Pestered to go and see the film I thought I would read the book beforehand, so as to appreciate the full narrative in my own time before being subject to someone else’s vision. I thought the book was compelling, there were moments when I couldn’t put the kindle down. It was the type of story that resounded in my thoughts all day long after having read during my morning commute.
I had heard that there are scenes in the film that are perhaps a little too brutally honest. Although the story was hard to digest, it wasn’t because of the graphic scenes the narrator depicts. I have read a few historical fictions, autobiographies and memories on the ‘slave trade’ and no matter what scene unfolds within the words what disgusts me most is that I don’t believe I see guilt in the American population today. I completely understand that Britain had a part but we did not follow in their inhumane footsteps and we realised far sooner the wrong.
How many slavery films have been made? Wikipedia says 29, yet how many films on war? Hundreds. And now Hollywood have made a multi million dollar production with a no doubt more conservative approach to the story and all of sudden the world remembers? But, if a visual representation is what is needed to bring this level of inflicted suffering to the forefront of history…..
What a rant! I just hate it when truth gets glossed over in nice rose tinted glasses.
This was a quick purchase at Heathrow airport on my way to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as I needed a book for my 12+ hours of travel and I didn’t fancy carrying my current read, Wolf Hall.
I saw Philippa Gregory and I knew I would be in safe water, little did I know that the water was so safe it was placid. This book seemed to have all the right components, a strong heroine, an exciting time period, war and love. But after trudging through the book I was more than disappointed, I was embarrassed for Philippa. It is so poorly written, with constant repetition. Always repeating. Everything is repeated several times and Gregory gave me absolutely no credit, in fact I can only presume she assumed I and the rest of her readership are dim and incompetent.
I simply do not understand where this book came from, did she actually write it herself or commission it out to be written on her behalf.
Whatever, see the link below for a full review on the plot. But take my advice, avoid this one.
- The Red Queen – Philippa Gregory (kirk72.wordpress.com)
I saw this quote in Stylist magazine about Historical Fiction, and you know how much I LOVE historical fiction….
Failures of Leadership: History’s Worst Rulers and How Their People Suffered For It by Frederick Parker
“This exciting new book from historian and entrepreneur Frederick Parker looks at the 20 worst failures of leadership in history and the consequences it meant for those under their rule. Through these entertaining historical snapshots, you will learn about their failures so that you can avoid similar pitfalls on your path to success. This book is useful for business executives, managers, and any other type of organizational leader.”
(blurb from Amazon above)
Not sure this book really needs much of a review, it is a simple book that details exactly what it says on the cover. Not particularly exciting but very informative and at some points quite eye opening. For instance, one ruler killed so many people that it affected the carbon dioxide levels during those years….but you have to read the book to find out who and when.
Give it a go, it is only 116 pages.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
I couldn’t remember if I had read this as a child or not, but felt that regardless this book deserved a second, more mature read and now as an adult I can fully appreciate this beautiful diary.
It is a marvel to read, listening to a young girl’s thoughts and feelings, watching her not only grow up but also fall simultaneously, deep into a sense of loneliness and despair. But her story is not a tragic one, but a voice given to the millions of people who suffered during the second world war. Her face has now become synonymous with freedom and it was the afterward of her diary that brought tears to my eyes. Anne Frank wanted to be a writer, she wanted to be remembered after her death, and now, as one of the most famous faces (and names) of the 20th Century she has outlived history and has become a symbol of hope and learning.
Many of us have read this book at school as children or young adults, I really urge you to re-read it because as life brings us knowledge and empathy I felt during this second reading that I understood why this book is a piece of art in a terrible slice of history.
And now, I feel must pilgrimage to Amsterdam so that I can visit The Secret Annex, walk the same corridors and stand in her room, contemplate the fate of those unfortunate, innocent 8 people. Because in reading her diary you feel that you are with her and that as the diary comes to an abrupt end you too have suffered a loss. But she has surpassed even her own dreams and become timeless, forever a young, hopeful
- Frankly, I preferred Anne’s diary on paper (guardian.co.uk)
- Anne Frank, The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank (librarianheaven.com)
- The Diary of Young Girl by Anne Frank (rolipolli.wordpress.com)
I have made a fantastic discovery, an e-book series called History in an Hour.
With a boyfriend in the military it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to avoid the war jargon and historical references he comes out with, the reason for avoidance is I do not understand what he is saying!! Or more specifically, I cannot contribute to the conversation. So I decided to brush up on my military history and I stumbled upon History in an Hour and ended up downloading several at once. In 1 week I have read 5 of the 25 books in the series, finishing a book in a day (using the daily commute as my reading time). With the tag line “History for busy people”, I could not ignore them.
To be honest I was fairly knowledgeable of the chain of events that sparked both the first and the second world wars but with the direct and concise approach to the books I learnt facts that made me say “huh..?” (with a nod). The other book topics I know next to nothing about but have since been reciting many factoids…proudly.
There are so many books in the series, ranging from Tudor history to current world changing events. I have also found a series called Philosophy in an Hour (I think by the same publishers) and since I have always wanted to read Aristotle, but considered his works rather daunting to say the least, I have excitedly downloaded Aristotle: Philosophy in an Hour.
Download these books now! For next to nothing cost wise….what’s stopping you!?
The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, by Himself
This narrative is the most beautifully written book I have ever read. Douglass’ use of words is powerful, emotional and noble.
He paints the most romantic picture for a topic that at the time of his publication was still raw and unresolved. He was in favour of the abolition and actually became a spokesperson for it, but rather than slander the corruption and all those involved he respects the individuals, both his brethren and ‘masters’. Despite his terrible ordeals he remains dignified throughout and it is thanks to the determination of him and other sympathisers that slavery was abolished.
A short book of only 100 pages or so, but I believe he has more publications. I also discovered that this book is part of the American history syllabus in the states and that for most students this book is compulsory. I enjoyed it, more than enjoyed. I felt his plight and that of every other unfortunate in the same position. In fact, I am still trying to get my head around the fact that slavery even existed, how anyone could treat another human being in the manner that is depicted in this book is…I don’t think a strong enough word exists.
I implore you to read this insightful slice of history, and like me, I am sure your eyes will open wide and will want to learn as much as you can about the truth.
(it is a free download in the Kindle store too!)