Archive for the ‘Edwardian’ Category

Book Review – Princess Elizabeth’s Spy

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

What I’ve recently finished:

**Princess Elizabeth’s Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal**

GoodReads
Amazon
World Catalog

OK I read this book in June because I received an “Advanced Reader’s Copy.” Words cannot express how excited I was!

But…

Kermit can:

I’m not someone who is usually picked for something special but I received an ARC of the book and I was just so excited!!

What is it about?
Last time we left Maggie, she was training to be part of MI5 after spending some time being a secretary to Mr. Churchill. Unfortunately, while Ms. Hope is amazingly bright, she ran into some issues with physical training. Anyone who spends more time with her nose in a book as opposed to running must know that that can be a…humbling experience

She thinks her first mission is going to be on the front line of the war but unfortunately she is sent to be a tutor to young Princess Elizabeth in Windsor Castle.

She is asked to be an “‘undercover sponge.’” This does does not sit well with Ms. Hope. There was a particular time when she stands up to her handlers who are simply trying to give her her assignment and not allow her any context:

I’m through allowing myself to be confined to so-called ‘women’s work.’ I’m also through with patronizing men giving me half-truths and withholding information. This will end here and now.” [page 43]

Go Maggie!

One might think that this is a fluff assignment but they’re quickly proved wrong when they read of the murder of one of the ladies in waiting at court. The murder at court puts everyone one edge and Maggie realizes that not only is she to be a tutor to the Princesses but she’s instructed to be a body guard of sorts as well.

Why did I read this?
Simple: I read book one a few months ago and I HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!

What impressed me about this book?
The suspense. Like I’ve said, I haven’t read many suspense books but these stories continue to have a complex enough plot that it was intriguing but not too complex that it was a 900 page book you have to invest two months in.

Like always it was refreshing to see string females on both good and bad sides. That is always a plus in my book!

I also appreciated the upstairs/downstairs dynamic in this book. It’s the Downton Abbey fan in me coming out… Again… but it was interesting reading about the background of the British royalty during a war literally occurring in their back yard.

What disappointed me about this book?
Would you believe me if I say that I can’t think of anything? It was a wonderful ride! I remember having difficulty keeping people straight in the first book but it wasn’t much of an issue with this book.

Oh I’ve got a disappointment! There wasn’t a preview of book three at the end of the book because I was reading an ARC. 

Historical Relevance:
Marion Crawford was the Princess’ nanny wrote a book entitled The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen’s Childhood by her Nanny, Marion Crawford. This book has sparked my interest because there has been so much written about the Queen’s reign as monarch that I can’t help but wonder about her childhood. Did she hate broccoli? Did she really need things she was working on while studying to be in a certain order like MacNeil alludes to in the book? This has sparked my curiosity!

What reading challenge(s) did this book apply to?

 

 

Overall Grade?.

I’ve recently started a series after more than a dozen books have already been published. Unfortunately with Maggie Hope, this is not the case. So this is a good representation of my thoughts right now:

taken from Random House’s Pinterest Board “Book Humor”

 

 

 

Book Review – “The Sealed Letter” & “Her Royal Spyness”

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Actually more but I wanted to do a quick review of two of them.

The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue.

Goodreads description:
England, 1864
: Miss Emily “Fido” Faithfull is a “woman of business” and a spinster pioneer of the British women’s movement. Distracted from her beloved cause by the sudden return of her once-dear friend, the unhappily wed Helen Codrington, Fido is swept up in the intimate details of Helen’s failing marriage to the stodgy Admiral Harry Codrington. What begins as an effort to help a friend explodes into a courtroom drama muckier than any Hollywood tabloid could invent; with stained dresses, accusations of adultery, counterlcaims of rape, and a mysterious letter that could destroy many lives.

My Take:
One of the main reasons I love reading is because I care about the characters. Whether I want them to go away, die, get with their crush and/or survive. As morbid as it might sound, wanting a character to die is some degree of caring. Sure, it’s certainly not nice but it is caring.

With this particular book, however, I didn’t care about any of the characters. I guess that’s to be expected. No one comes out looking wonderful in a divorce. Fido Faithfull is someone I would probably admire if I read about her in history books–she advocated for female independence and employment during a time when women were limited to needle point and seeing guests. But in this book she is so very naive and, because of that, she is led to believe some pretty inaccurate things that the reader is probably seeing straight through. Helen Codrington, the wife in this divorce case is incredibly selfish and heartless. Henry Codrington, like many men of the time, simply wanted a wife to be seen and not heard.

I guess what I found so interesting however was the British history of divorce. It was very hard to get a divorce in Britain prior to 1857 because the only way one could get one was through an act of Parliament! (So needless to say you had to be very rich to get one) Which makes me wonder–how many divorces were direly needed but never received? How many women were beaten within an inch of their life or even to death with little to no hope of ever having an end to their abusive marriage? You can see the history of divorce in Britain here and you can see just how much the woman was at the disadvantage with many of these laws.

Final Rating? Three out of Five Stars

 

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

Goodreads description:
Her ridiculously long name is Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, daughter to the Duke of Atholt and Rannoch. And she is flat broke. As the thirty-fourth in line for the throne, she has been taught only a few things, among them, the perfect curtsey. But when her brother cuts off her allowance, she leaves Scotland, and her fianc Fish-Face, for London, where she has:

a) worked behind a cosmetics counter-and gotten sacked after five hours
b) started to fall for a quite unsuitable minor royal
c) made some money housekeeping (incognita, of course), and
d) been summoned by the Queen to spy on her playboy son.

Then an arrogant Frenchman, who wants her family’s 800-year-old estate for himself, winds up dead in her bathtub. Now her most important job is to clear her very long family name

My Take:
Think:

Bridget Jones + Royal Title + Set in England during the 1930s. Then you’ll have this book :-)

What a lovely and quirky lil mystery! Don’t get me wrong–I feel very odd describing a murder mystery as light and fun but…it was!

I’ve been enjoying books about English royalty and this is one of them. I particularly like that the royalty component is from the point of view of such a loving character as Georgie–someone considered royalty (albeit 34th in line from the throne), yet we also see that she has her own life and own set of issues separate from English royalty at the time.

Georgie is requested by the Queen to spy on her first born son and his romance with American, Wallace Simpson, while trying to save her brother from being hung for a murder he did not commit. Pretty busy few weeks! But through all this, Georgie realizes that she does not have to be dependent on her family for money, servants or food. Not to mention fun!

Georgie is a woman with many layers. She doesn’t want to rush into a marriage and her friends encourage her to have sex too! Shocking I know! She has her fair share of emotional issues with her mom too. (Or “mom” as I’d like to say.) She’s clumsy and quirky too, which makes her so endearing. A woman with a royal title but even she has issues with polite manners :-P

I love me a nice murder mystery and I certainly like one that can make me laugh too! I look forward to reading the rest of the books in Bowen’s series! Four out of Five stars.

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