Best Reads This Summer


Suitcase Essentials from the Sunday Times Culture

Non-Fiction History

 (c) Vintage

(c) Vintage

God’s Traitors by Jessie Childs – A vivid, highly original history that sheds light on the suffering of Catholics under Elizabeth I. p. 30.


(c) Faber & Faber

(c) Faber & Faber

The Hollow Crown by Dan Jones – A racy and vigorous narrative history of the Wars of the Roses. p.31


Event Magazine – The 100 Hottest Summer Books (Mail on Sunday)

Paperbacks – Non-fiction

 (c) Vintage

(c) Vintage

God’s Traitors by Jessie Childs – We all know Bloody Mary liked to burn Protestants. But Childs focuses on the fate of Catholics in the reign of her sister, Elizabeth I, in this gripping history. p.17


Saturday Review – Summer Books (The Times)

History

(c) W&N

(c) W&N

The Rival Queens: Catherine de Medici, her daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal that Ignited a Kingdom by Nancy Goldstone

Historians often suspicious of feminine perfection, are apt to equate beauty with frivolity and foolishness. This, perhaps explains the tendency to denigrate Marguerite de Valois (Margot), especially in comparison to her unscrupulous mother, Catherine de Medici. Nancy Goldstone gives this familiar of two queens a new twist by allowing Margot to shine. She argues that her subtlety, dexterity and resilience brought a modicum of stability to turbulent times, thus dampening the ruinous impact of her cruel and exploitative family. Goldstone’s gift is her ability to make human the often cardboard characters of 16th-century France. p. 15


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My review of Exploring English Castles: Evocative, Romantic, and Mysterious True Tales of the Kings and Queens of the British Isles by Edd Morris


(c) Sky Pony Press 1st July 2015

(c) Sky Pony Press
1st July 2015


This fascinating book by Edd Morris starts off with a brief history of the castle: from the Norman invasion of 1066, the motte and bailey, the development of the medieval castle to their decline.

He then looks at nine castles in great detail (Bodiam, Corfe, Dover, Dunstanburgh, Framlingham, Goodrich, Kenilworth, Rochester and Tintagel). For each castle there is a floor plan, lots of amazing photos, a brief history of the castle and notes on any curious features, such as the chimney pots at Framlingham. But what really brings each castle to life is how Morris takes ‘a snapshot of one of the most notable moments in the past.’

For those interested in Tudor history, the notable events at Framlingham and Kenilworth involve the Tudor Queens, Mary I and Elizabeth I. Through the inclusion of Framlingham, this book also has links to Lady Jane Grey, as Framlingham Castle was where Mary Tudor raised her standard against Queen Jane in July 1553.

Read this book before visiting any of the castles included!

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Books 2015 – on sale today – Exploring English Castles by Edd Morris


1 July – Exploring English Castles: Evocative, Romantic, and Mysterious True Tales of the Kings and Queens of the British Isles by Edd Morris

(c) Sky Pony Press 1st July 2015

(c) Sky Pony Press
1st July 2015


‘A guide to some of the most historical and picturesque castles in England for romantics and Anglophiles alike. Castles have shaped England. For almost one thousand years, castles have been the settings of siege and battle, dens of plotting and intrigue, and refuges for troubled kings. Today, the romantic yet ruinous shapes of once grand fortresses stud the English countryside–a reminder of turbulent times past. Exploring English Castles provides readers with a breathtaking tour through the grandest castles of England. It brings ruins to life through true stories of royalty, chivalry, deception, and intrigue, played out within formerly majestic walls. Uncover the secret of Bodiam Castle, Sussex–a fortress seemingly from a fairy tale, built for a knight returning from the Hundred Years’ War. Discover how Mary Tudor, first queen of England, took refuge in Framlingham Castle, Suffolk, overturning a wily plot to deny her the throne. Unearth a delicate love story between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, which unfolds against the genteel backdrop of Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire. Filled with evocative photographs, awe-inspiring historical tales, and gentle humor, Exploring English Castles will delight any armchair historian, travel aficionado, or fan of historical fiction.’

From Amazon.co.uk

Further details – Exploring Castles

Amazon.co.uk


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My review of ‘Watch The Lady’ by Elizabeth Fremantle


(c) Michael Joseph

(c) Michael Joseph


‘Watch The Lady’ plunges you back into life at the Tudor court, so magnificently depicted by Elizabeth Freemantle in ‘Queen’s Gambit’ and ‘Sisters of Treason.’ Mainly set in the last years of Elizabeth I’s reign, with all the tension of a dying dynasty, we meet Penelope Deveraux, who is forced to marry a man she does not love. Penelope must negotiate life at court, trying to avoid the fate of her mother (who dared to marry the Queen’s favourite), while supporting her brother, the Earl of Essex, as he plays his deadly game with his rival, Robert Cecil. ‘Watch The Lady’ is a fitting end to Fremantle’s fabulous Tudor trilogy.


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On sale now – The Story of the Tower of London by Tracy Borman


June – The Story of the Tower of London by Tracy Borman


 (c) Merrell Publishers

(c) Merrell Publishers


‘This book reveals the fascinating stories, dramatic events and colorful characters that make up the Tower of London’s remarkably long and varied history. Written from a social perspective, it presents a fresh appraisal of this world-famous site and sets it apart from any other available book. It offers a comprehensive history of the fortress, from its Roman origins right up to the present day. With over 200 color illustrations and a comprehensive and chronological narrative divided into thematic chapters, it conveys brilliantly the many and varied stories which make up the Tower’s history from the menagerie and royal mint to the roll call of its famous prisoners. The story of the Tower of London is, in many respects, the story of England. When building work began on the fortress, the capital was little more than a small town with no more than 10,000 inhabitants. Almost 1,000 years later, the fortress still stands as a symbol of royal power, pomp and ceremony, tradition, heritage, military might, treachery and torture. Its myriad roles are reflected in the complex series of buildings that make up this formidable, magnificent fortress an iconic site that still attracts millions of visitors from across the world each year.’

From Amazon.co.uk

Further details – Tracy Borman

Further details – Amazon.co.uk


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BBC History Magazine – History Hot 100


BBC History Magazine has published the results of the History Hot 100 survey. Lady Jane is number 45.

BBC History Magazine – History Hot 100


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A new article from All Things Robert Dudley


Another brilliant article from Christine at the All Things Robert Dudley blog.

A Grand Conspiracy in 1553? – Parliament


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Summary of the Bradgate dig so far…


The Leicester Mercury reports on the finds at the Bradgate Park dig so far.

Archaeologists find a hoard of historical artifacts at Bradgate Park


Posted in Bradgate | Comments Off on Summary of the Bradgate dig so far…

Books 2015 – on sale today – Watch The Lady by Elizabeth Fremantle


18 June 2015 – Watch The Lady by Elizabeth Fremantle


(c) Michael Joseph

(c) Michael Joseph


‘The daughter of the Queen’s nemesis, Penelope Devereux, arrives at court blithely unaware of its pitfalls and finds herself in love with one man, yet married off to another. Bestowed with beauty and charm she and her brother, The Earl of Essex, are drawn quickly into the aging Queen’s favour. But Penelope is saddled with a husband who loathes her and chooses to strike out, risking her reputation to seek satisfaction elsewhere. But life at the heart of the court is not only characterised by the highs and lows of romance, there are formidable factions at work who would like to see the Devereux family brought down. It seems The Earl of Essex can do no wrong in the eyes of the Queen but as his influence grows so his enemies gather and it is Penelope who must draw on all her political savvy to prevent the unthinkable from happening.

Told from the perspective of Penelope and her brother’s greatest enemy the politician Cecil, this story, wrought with love, hatred and envy, unfolds over two decades in which we see the last gasps of Elizabeth’s reign, and the deadly scramble for power in a dying dynasty.’


From ElizabethFremantle.com


Further details – Elizabeth Fremantle

Further details – Amazon.co.uk


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Books 2015 – on sale today – The Rival Queens by Nancy Goldstone


18 June – The Rival Queens: Catherine de’ Medici, her daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal That Ignited a Kingdom by Nancy Goldstone


(c) W&N

(c) W&N


‘ Set in Renaissance France at the magnificent court of the Valois kings, The Rival Queens is the history of two remarkable women, a mother and daughter driven into opposition by a terrible betrayal that threatened to destroy the realm.

Catherine de’ Medici, the infamous queen mother of France, was a consummate pragmatist and powerbroker who dominated the throne for thirty years. Her youngest daughter Marguerite, the glamorous ‘Queen Margot’, was a passionate free spirit, the only adversary whom her mother could neither intimidate nor control. When Catherine forces the Catholic Marguerite to marry her Protestant cousin Henry of Navarre against her will, and then uses her opulent Parisian wedding as a means of luring his Huguenot followers to their deaths, she creates not only savage conflict within France but also a potent rival within her own family.

Rich in historical detail and vivid prose, Nancy Goldstone’s narrative unfolds as a thrilling historical epic. Treacherous court politics, poisonings, international espionage and adultery form the background to a story whose fascinating array of characters include such celebrated figures as Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Nostradamus.

From Catherine’s early struggles with her husband’s exquisite mistress, Diane de Poitiers, and her exultant rise to power, through Marguerite’s poignant sacrifice of love and happiness to save her husband’s life, and ultimately to the political awakening that leads to a threat to her very survival, The Rival Queens is a dangerous tale of love, betrayal, ambition and the true nature of courage, the echoes of which still resonate.’

From Amazon.co.uk


Further details – Nancy Goldstone

Further details – Amazon.co.uk


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