(Review) Our Tempestuous Day: A History of Regency England by Carolly Erickson


Publisher and Publication Date: HarperCollins. 1986. First Harper paperback 2011.
Genre: Nonfiction. British history. Regency Period.
Pages: 304.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of British history or Regency period history.
Rating: Okay.

Amazon link 

Links of interest on George III:
Britannica on George III
History.com on George III
Royal.uk on George III
Biography.com on George III

George III

Links of interest on George IV:
Royal.uk on George IV
Britannica on George IV

George IV

The Regency period covers the years 1810 to 1820.
George III was born in 1738 and died in 1820.
King George III was the monarch of Great Britain and Ireland from 1760 to 1820. He had a mental illness that made him incapable of ruling during the last ten years. His son, the future George IV, became regent in 1811 and until his father’s death in 1820.
George IV reigned as monarch only ten years until his death in 1830.

Our Tempestuous Day focuses on George III and George IV. Other historical figures: Lord Byron, the Duke of Wellington, Caroline Lamb, Jane Austen, and Princess Charlotte are included.
The author uses characters to share what life was like during this time period, but these are people who are (mainly) in the upper part of society, not the common people.

My Thoughts:
I’ve struggled with whether to give this book an okay or good rating. I’ve toggled back and forth until I’ve decided to stay at okay.
The deciding factor for me in this rating is I wanted to read about the common people. The people closer to those in the Jane Austen’s stories. Chapter 18 finally answered some of my interests with how children were treated: stories of the “climbing boys,” child abandonment, street gangs, and prostitution.
However, the book is interesting in regards to how the two George monarchs lived. The opulence of George IV, and his tumultuous marriage and inappropriate treatment of the unloved wife.
Lord Byron is a character I knew a little about before reading this book. He was a scoundrel and didn’t care. You’ve heard the term, “love them and leave them.” I wouldn’t say he loved anyone but himself. He did leave them, that was a certainty.
Over-all, Our Tempestuous Day is a starting point for reading about the Regency Period.

(Review) The Philosopher’s Daughters by Alison Booth

Publisher and Publication Date: Red Door Press. April 2, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction. Women in literature.
Pages: eBook copy. 356.
Source: I received a complimentary eBook copy from HFVBT, I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of women and literature, and historical fiction.
Rating: Very good.

Amazon link

Giveaway link to Gleam
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Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours about the tour: The Philosopher’s Daughter.

Praise for The Philosopher’s Daughter:

A lyrical tale of wild, frontier Australia. Evocative, insightful, thought-provoking.” -Karen Viggers, author

”Booth is superb at the small detail that creates a life, and the large one that gives it meaning.” –
Marion Halligan, author

“Delicately handled historical drama with a theme of finding self, both in relationships and art, backed by issues on race relations in Australia and women’s rights.” -Tom Flood, author and editor

Alison Booth
About The Author:
Alison Booth was born in Melbourne, brought up in Sydney and has worked in the UK and in Australia as a professor as well as a novelist. Her most recent novel, A Perfect Marriage, is in the genre of contemporary fiction, while her first three novels (Stillwater Creek, The Indigo Sky, and A Distant Land) are historical fiction spanning the decades 1950s through to the early 1970s. Alison’s work has been translated into French and has also been published by Reader’s Digest Select Editions in both Asia and Europe. Alison, who holds a PhD in Economics from the London School of Economics, is an active public speaker and has participated in many writers’ festivals and literary events.

A tale of two very different sisters whose 1890s voyage from London into remote outback Australia becomes a journey of self-discovery, set against a landscape of wild beauty and savage dispossession.
London in 1891: Harriet Cameron is a talented young artist whose mother died when she was barely five. She and her beloved sister Sarah were brought up by their father, radical thinker James Cameron. After adventurer Henry Vincent arrives on the scene, the sisters’ lives are changed forever. Sarah, the beauty of the family, marries Henry and embarks on a voyage to Australia. Harriet, intensely missing Sarah, must decide whether to help her father with his life’s work or devote herself to painting.
When James Cameron dies unexpectedly, Harriet is overwhelmed by grief. Seeking distraction, she follows Sarah to Australia, and afterwards into the Northern Territory outback, where she is alienated by the casual violence and great injustices of outback life.
Her rejuvenation begins with her friendship with an Aboriginal stockman and her growing love for the landscape. But this fragile happiness is soon threatened by murders at a nearby cattle station and by a menacing station hand seeking revenge.

My Thoughts:
The beginning of the story started slow for me. I hung on, because I wanted to get to the point when the two sisters were in Australia. Once the sisters began their new life in Australia, I enjoyed reading The Philosopher’s Daughters
The sisters are vastly different in personalities and temperaments. This is my first reason why I liked this story. The sisters bring different view points of women in the late 19th century, and they bring different perspectives of Australia. 
Sarah is strong-willed and determined, but teachable. Harriet is strong-willed and determined, but obstinate. This leads to some poor decisions from Harriet. 
Through their eyes I saw Australia. Australia is the setting for most of the book. The culture of the Aborigine people and how the white people treated them is a conflict in the story. Sarah and Harriet have a growing knowledge of the culture and society of both people groups, but the women respond in different ways. 
The land of Australia came alive. The vivid colors, terrain, and unbroken wildness became another reason why I like this story.  
I enjoy reading about how men and women relate to one another. This is not always pleasant reading, but it satisfies a curiosity about the different viewpoints of how the two respond to one another considering the society of that historical period. Sarah is a married woman through most of the story. Sarah speaks her mind, because she doesn’t always understand her husband. However, she submits to his leadership. Harriet doesn’t understand this type of thinking, because she wants to be independent and make her own life. This is an additional conflict. 
Over-all I felt this is a very good story!

(Review) The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Publisher and Publication Date: St. Martin’s Press. 2018. Paperback edition 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. Women in literature.
Pages: 576.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: This book covers a large audience of possible readers. For example: women in literature and coming of age story.
Rating: Very good.

Amazon link

Kristin Hannah’s Goodreads page

This is the third book I’ve read by Kristin Hannah. The other two books are The Nightingale and The Winter Garden.

“Some fears you carried alone.” Page 138.

In the summary of the book you’ll read at Goodreads or Amazon it mentions the father, Ernt Allbright, is a Vietnam War veteran. It fails to mention he had been a POW for several years. This is a significant point. In the 1960s and 1970s, there wasn’t a mental health care system for veterans (not really.) The knowledge of how to help veterans, support groups, counseling, books, and medications came later. Ernt had a serious mental health disorder, it was not going to clear up like getting over the flu. He was not a person who could be reasoned with or led to rational thinking. His brain was…..what is the right word? His brain was still in that state of survival mode and anticipating threats. His wife looked to him to make rational, logical decisions, but he was not capable. He desperately needed help. Further, his wife Cora kept reflecting back on who Ernt was before the war. Ernt is not that person anymore. Yet, Cora clings to the thought of who he used to be and the hope of who he can be again. This is tragic and heartbreaking.
I feel that I can speak freely about this, because my son has PTSD from combat in Iraq. He is not able to work. He cannot make certain decisions. Most days he cannot sleep. Most days he cannot handle being around people other than his family and close friends. He takes medicine. He sees a doctor. But the David that was is gone. I’m thankful he is home and able to be with family. However, David has a hard time with life post war.
Sharing about my family is not meant to be a political statement. It is meant to share a glimpse of my family’s experience with PTSD and the after-effects of war.
Back to The Great Alone.
The only child of this sad couple is Leni. When the story begins it is 1974, and Leni is thirteen. Later the story jumps to 1978, and then the mid 1980s.
After Ernt lost his job in Washington state, the family moves to Alaska. They live in a small community of independent, resilient, hard working people.
The Allbright family learns to prep during the summer months for the lengthy grueling winters. The community helps them. They literally take the family under their wing.
Leni doesn’t fully understand the complexities of her family until later.
Leni wants a connection to someone her age.
Meanwhile, Ernt’s mental health condition deteriorates.

My Thoughts:
The Great Alone is an epic story.
It’s a story to get lost amongst the series of sad events that swirl and pile up like a huge snow drift.
From the beginning, I felt the story wasn’t going to end well. But, I wanted to know what would happen to Cora and Leni.
It’s a story with several themes and ideas running through it. All of them are heavy. Too heavy, because it left me drained.
Some of the themes are sacrifice, love, loss, vengeance, loyalty, intimacy, transformation, discouragement, disappointment, regret, loneliness, and isolation.
Some of the major ideas in the story: coming of age, war veteran, mental health disorder, living in the Alaskan wilderness, young love, codependency, domestic violence, and addiction.
Just when I thought the story was going to wrap up with the characters another chapter began in their lives.
Cora and Leni are extremely close. Their relationship alone was an idea that could’ve carried the story.
Overall I’m glad I read The Great Alone. However, it is a heavy story to digest considering the ongoing events of 2020.

(Review) The Iliad by Homer, A New Translation by Caroline Alexander

Publisher and Publication Date: Ecco. 2016. Paperback edition.
Genre: Greek mythology.
Pages: 608.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers who love the classics. Readers of Greek mythology.
Rating: Excellent.

Original title: Ιλιάς

Amazon link

Links for further information:
Ancient History Encyclopedia

Image is from the Iliad, Book VIII, lines 245-253.

The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem. It was written in the 8th century BCE. Homer is considered the author.
It is the story of the last year of the ten year Trojan War. The time span for the poem covers several weeks.
The two groups fighting are the Achaeans or Greeks and the Trojans of Troy or Ilion.
The war began, because Paris (a son of King Priam of Troy) abducted Helen of Sparta, the wife of King Menelaus of Sparta. Menelaus and his brother, King Agamemnon of Mycenae, and their armies descend on Troy for revenge.
Achilles is the greatest warrior of the Greeks. He is a demi-god. His parents are Nereid Thetis (a sea nymph) and Peleus, King of Phthia.
Hector is the greatest warrior of the Trojans. He is the eldest son of King Priam.
The true history of the Trojan War began in the late Bronze Age, probably 1200 BCE. Homer’s epic poem is not to be taken as factual history. It is a form of literature, more like a legend. It’s an oral poem. It is written in 24 books.
Some of the characters are: Achilles, Ajax, Patroclus, Menelaus, Agamemnon, Priam, Hector, Andromache, Helen, Aphrodite, Apollo, Athena, and Zeus.
The poem begins with an argument between Achilles and Agamemnon. Achilles wants Agamemnon to return the priest’s daughter who was taken captive. Agamemnon doesn’t want to return the girl. He prefers her to his wife at home.
Achilles is the principle character throughout The Iliad. The spotlight will include Hector and other characters, but Achilles is the dominant focus.

My Thoughts:
The Iliad is a story you will want to take notes.
Some examples of notes:
~The change of names, Paris is called Alexandros at times.
~Making a list of expressions: “swift-footed Achilles,” “silver-footed Thetis,”
and “of the lovely cheeks.” The last example is referring to multiple women.
~The gods and the mortals they prefer.
~The gods and their human qualities.
~A list of women abducted.

The introduction is interesting. I enjoyed learning about the text, history surrounding the story, Mycenaean culture and history, the city of Troy, oral poetry, battle scenes; and relationships between men, and between men and women.

The Iliad is a sad story. Some of the characters know they will die. The war is lengthy (ten years), and the men are tired and wonder if the war has been worth it. The response of Achilles after Patroclus’s death is heartbreaking.
Hector has a family. What will happen to them after his death? This answer is not included in the story. The Iliad doesn’t tell this part. It also doesn’t tell the story of Achilles’s death.
The Iliad is gruesome, but war is gruesome.
How does Helen feel about what happened to her? Her voice is a deep cry at the end. Helen says, “would that I had died before.”

Death of Hector. Painting by Peter Paul Rubens.

(Review) Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin

Publisher and Publication Date: Vintage Books. 1999.
Genre: Nonfiction. Biography.
Pages: 347.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of Jane Austen and women’s stories.
Rating: Very good.

Several black and white illustrations are included.

Amazon link

I have reader friends who’ve told me they are not a Darcy fan. I have reader friends who’ve told me they’ve never read a Jane Austen story. When I hear these things I’m not offended. I believe that books are personal choices; and, my choice is not necessarily another person’s choice.

How do I feel about Jane Austen? I am a fan of Jane Austen. I love reading about Jane Austen. I love Jane Austenesque stories. I have read most of her novels and a few of them are favorites.

Several months ago I began reading Jane Austenesque stories. Add to this, I have read two of Austen’s unfinished novels that were finished by modern authors. These reasons have led me to feel compelled to read and study Jane Austen. I want to learn about her writing style and technique, the Regency period, her family, and the everyday life she lived.

Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin is the fourth book I’ve read in this personal study.
I’ve also read:
1. Jane Austen, Bloom’s BioCritiques by Harold Bloom.
2. The Friendly Jane Austen: A Well-Mannered Introduction to a Lady of Sense and Sensibility by Natalie Tyler, with contributions from Jon Winokur and Reid Boates.
3. Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Jane Austen by Carol J. Adams, Douglas Buchanan, Kelly Gesch.

Several others are in a TBR stack:
~The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne
~Our Tempestuous Day: A History of Regency England by Carolly Erickson
~The Cambridge Companion Guide to Jane Austen by Edward Copeland
~Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels by Deirdre Le Faye
All links take you to Goodreads.

In Jane Austen: A Life, Tomalin examines all the Austen family. None of them are placed under the microscope, but they are explored through their letters, and personal choices in marriages, family, and careers. Chapter two goes back to Jane’s grandparents.
In Jane’s early life, she was sent to a village woman to be cared for and nursed until she was of age to live at home. This seems odd to our modern view, but during this era it was common. However, Tomalin wonders how this might have effected Jane?
Most of Jane’s letters were destroyed by family. We can only speculate why. In addition, the family was discreet about what they shared and passed down through the generations. A brother and a nephew remarked Jane lived an, “ordinary life.” Later in the book it is stated the family were reserved people. As a Jane Austen fan, I want to read at least a morsel of her showing not necessarily imperfections, but at least a realness of her person. It is easy to wonder if the family was reserved or trying to protect Jane’s image. Both are possibilities. After Jane’s father died and she moved to other housing, there is a glimpse she may have been depressed. Tomalin only explains this is a possibility.
Jane Austen: A Life is a little dry. This point didn’t take away from devouring the book.

Final thoughts:
~I love it that Jane read her writings to family.
~I love it that Jane tried different techniques in writing stories.
~In Appendix one, I thought it was interesting to read about the different illnesses that may have caused Jane’s death.
~I love reading about Cassandra’s love and devotion to Jane.
~It is sad how people of this period treated those with disabilities. Each proceeding generation looks back on previous generations with a different perspective. I have often wondered what people 100 years from now will say about us? What will be our legacy?