by Clare Allan
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Who is mad? Who is sane? Who decides? Welcome to the Dorothy Fish, a day hospital in North London! N has been a patient here for thirteen years. Day after day she sits smoking in the common room, swapping medication and comparing MAD money rates. Like all the patients at the Dorothy Fish, N's chief ambition is never to get discharged. Each year when her annual assessment comes round, she is relieved to learn that she hasn't got any better. Then in walks Poppy Shakespeare in her six-inch skirt and twelve-inch heels. She is certain she isn't mentally ill and desperate to return to her life outside. Though baffled by Poppy's attitude, N agrees to help. Together they plot to gain Poppy's freedom. But in a world where everything's upside-down, are they crazy enough to upset the system? Funny, brilliant and moving, "Poppy Shakespeare" looks at madness from the inside, questioning our mental health system and the borders we place between sanity and insanity. Written in high-voltage prose, original and troubling, it is a stunning debut.
I took a while to get the hang of the narrative in this one, but once I did I fell in love with the story. The plot throws up more questions than answers, but given the theme, that's probably a good thing. From the outset we know that not everyone will get a happy ending, but the finale still packed a punch when I got there.
The Weaker Vessel: Woman's Lot in Seventeenth-Century England
by Antonia Fraser
Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson History
Just how weak were the women of the Civil War era? What could they expect beyond marriage and childbirth in an age where infant and maternal mortality was frequent and contraception unknown? Did anyone marry for love? Could a woman divorce? What rights had the unmarried? What expectations the widows? An expert on the period, Antonia Fraser brings to life the many and various women she has encountered in her considerable research: governesses, milkmaids, fishwives, nuns, defenders of castles, courtesans, countesses, witches and widows.
A good solid wedge of a book, even in paperback, but this still only skimmed the surface of a topic that needs a lot more investigation. Now I want to track down full biographies of a lot of the women covered briefly in here.
Atlas of the English Civil War
by P.R. Newman
Published by Routledge
The English Civil War is a subject which continues to excite enormous interest throughout the world. This atlas consists of over fifty maps illustrating all the major - and many of the minor - bloody campaigns and battles of the War, including the campaigns of Montrose, the battle of Edgehill and Langport. Providing a complete introductory history to the turbulent period, it also includes: * maps giving essential background information * detailed accompanying explanations * a useful context to events.
Much as I love maps, this book was a fairly average collection. It could have done with more details in terms of terrain and elevation and possibly more consistency in how the maps were drawn and which major settlements and other features were marked on each.
Tracing Your Servant Ancestors
by Michelle Higgs
Published by Pen & Sword Books Ltd
While there are popular and academic books on servants and domestic service, as well as television dramas and documentaries, little attention has been paid to the sources family historians can use to explore the lives and careers of their servant ancestors. Michelle Higgs's accessible and authoritative handbook has been written to serve just this purpose. Covering the period from the eighteenth century through to the Second World War, her survey gives a fascinating insight into the conditions of domestic service and the experience of those who worked within it. She quotes examples from the sources to show exactly how they can be used to trace individuals. Chapters cover the historical background of domestic service; the employers; the social hierarchy within the servant class; and the recruitment and responsibilities of servants. A comprehensive account of the available sources - the census, wills, directories, household accounts, tax and union records, diaries and online sources - provides readers with all the information they need to do their own research. This short, vivid overview will be invaluable to anyone keen to gain a practical understanding of the realities of servants' lives.
An excellent guide both to the lives of servants in previous generations and to genealogical research. I'd definitely be interested in reading other books in the series.
Wicked in Your Arms (Forgotten Princesses Book 1)
by Sophie Jordan
Published by Avon Books
One of the most notoriously eligible bachelors in Europe is finally ready to marry... For fiercely independent Grier Hadley, being the illegitimate daughter of one of London's most unsavory characters has only one advantage: an enormous, ill-gotten dowry. Prince Sevastian Maksimi knows where his duty lies: he must find a well-bred young lady--one with a considerable fortune to her name -- wed her promptly, and get to the business of producing an heir. The last thing Grier needs is some unattainable prince curling her toes with his smoldering glances and wicked suggestions. As far as Sev is concerned, she lacks the breeding to become a princess. And yet one kiss from this arresting female is all it takes for him to realize that anyone else in his arms would be unthinkable...
Having read and reviewed the third in this series for The Good, The Bad, & The Unread, I realised that I had the first book on my shelves following an ARC giveaway some Christmases ago. So I gave it a go, and it's even more of a mess than the one I read previously. Having made it through six chapters I still had no real idea what was going on or why I was supposed to care about the main characters, and so gave up. Not recommended to anyone who cares about accuracy in their historical fiction.