Friday, October 30, 2015

St Thomas's Eve by Jean Plaidy

This wonderful novel by Jean Plaidy is the story of Sir Thomas More, his life, his home and also the story of his family.  History of England seems to be a forte with Jean Plaidy and this novel does not disappoint.

Set during the turbulent times of Tudor England this novel tells the story of a humble man who lived during unimaginable change and who also in a way lived well before his time.i.e. There was not really a place for him in the government circles of Henry VIII but he achieved a measure of success which was quite astounding but at the same time he would not have acknowledged his status in the council of Henry VIII as becoming a successful person.  He was more astute and aware of life and circumstances to have his head turned by material wealth and success.  He did not fit the mold of his predecessor, Cardinal Wolsey.

I especially loved the story of his daughters, how Sir Thomas More believed that the girls should also be well educated at a time when girls were not educated to high standards similar to the boys.  There was a happy family environment in which Sir Thomas More married twice.  He had three daughters and a son from his first marriage and a step-daughter from his second marriage.  There was also an adopted daughter, Mercy, who was of a similar age as Margaret, his first daughter and Ailie, the step-daughter.

 The lives of the daughters and son are intermingled in this story of high politics and drama which ensued from Sir Thomas’s time working at the court of Henry VIII.  He also eventually moved to Chelsea with his family, whom he loved very much.

It is unfortunate that this man of the people, who believed in fairness and justice and was also a trained lawyer who eventually became Chancellor of England should have such a dramatic downfall.  There were many changes at hand and Sir Thomas could not succumb to Henry VIII’s wishes even though he had resigned in all conscience as Chancellor of England.

Sadly, Sir Thomas More met his fate bravely on a fine day in May at Tower Hill.

This novel describes the many wonders of Tudor life and Tudor London of the times.  It is also imbues the main character, Sir Thomas More, with special qualities and insights.  The love he had for his family and the beautiful gatherings they had whether outside in the summer weather for special occasions or a nightly gathering with music and song shines prominently in this story.  It is a beautiful story of an extraordinary man.  He believed he was the king’s good servant but God’s servant  first.

A well recommended story.




Thursday, October 1, 2015

Touched by Heaven by Nancy Ravenhill

This is a beautiful story and is highly recommended to read.

I enjoyed reading this wonderful story by Nancy Ravenhill which

Is the story of her life since she was a little girl, her life of missionary work, being married to a pastor and her encounters throughout her life with  Jesus.  The story also takes the reader to places in New Guinea when Nancy and her husband were working for Youth With A Mission and also to Great Barrier Island in earlier times in New Zealand and also Christchurch, New Zealand.

This book has recently been published this year and I found this gem of a book on a shelf of the librarian’s choice at the library.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

My Two Heavens by Jo Crabb

This book is a wonderful story of living in two countries, New Zealand and France.  It is also a testament to the power of positive thinking and that it is possible to achieve goals which a person sets out to do with perseverance and a positive attitude to life.


The book is also a travel memoir of various places travelled in earlier years and an exotic mix of wonderful recipes of the Mediterranean and the Middle East as well as for France and New Zealand.


There are fascinating anecdotes, drawings and words  of sound advice and descriptions of beautiful scenery.  Above all, there are the magnificent recipes which look wonderful.

Included in this book are the many varied and beautiful illustrations by Stephen Allwood, which are quite magical.


The Robert Louis Stevenson walk in the French countryside is included as well as The Chemin de St Jacques Walk, which was also fascinating to read  about the life of a pilgrim on the journey from a little place in France to San Compostela in Spain.


This book is well recommended as it is a joy to






The Jewels of Paradise

This is rather an unusual story by Donna Leon which is set mostly in Venice.  It tells the story of a researcher who is employed to find out the testamentary wishes of a composer who lived three hundred years previously. 

I quite enjoyed the story as the researcher set about her work in the

beautiful city of Venice where she would often go out for a coffee

with a friend or visit her parents who also happened to be living there.  Scenery and the backdrop of the little lanes and streets of Venice appealed to me as I was reading this story.

The conclusion of the story is quite unexpected and in a way it may be a story regarding the corruption and greed which can be associated with acquiring great wealth.  The reader is led to believe

that the jewels of paradise may be great wealth for the two cousins

who have employed the researcher and there is an uncertainty

regarding a very suave lawyer whom the researcher also befriends

at one stage until she realises his true intentions.

On one level this story may appear to be mundane and very humdrum as the researcher goes about her work and has interactions

With family members and a friend who is a co-worker and yet on

Another level this book is quite enthralling.

Because of the academic nature of the research, which I did find quite fascinating as it delved into the history of Ernst August, the Elector of Hanover,  and his son who became George I of England,

the story may appear at times to not be going anywhere and may

not appeal to all readers.  However, this story appealed to me as it

was also a mystery story with a unique ending and was interesting to

read of the varying emotions of the main players when the jewels of paradise were finally discovered.  The expectations at the conclusion of the story were so vastly different from what actually transpired.




Friday, August 28, 2015

Moonlight over Versailles

Moonlight over Versailles

The moon, the light, the beauty.

Imagine a beautiful moon over Versailles: the light glinting off the spray of the fountains,

the magical moonbeams playing over the gardens, the flowers and tree-lined avenues.

I have not attended any of the night shows at the Chateau of Versailles but I can imagine

how wonderful they must be.


I have attended an afternoon baroque music show where all of the fountains were playing

and it was beautiful. 

Even at closing time on an overcast day the flower gardens are enhanced and look beautiful.



The Light

This is a poem which I wrote in 2004. 

The Light

The beautiful still moonlight shines brightly over the landscape
No shadows veil this serene beauty
Why cannot I be so still and silent, like this beautiful moonlit night?
Hush, whisper the sounds of the night
Lest this wish be granted
Wait, I say how do I ease my pain
And find my gain
Is it only to be found in truth and light?
Wait until the morning, I hear
See the light glinting on the leaves of the trees
Know the sun will shine brightly
And enhance the beauty which nature decrees
Day and Night
Night and Day
Chasing each other away
Time never stood still
Now there is another will
We sang and we died
The never ending pattern of life-
The Light of Day and Night
So fleeting,
The sunny days of youth passed us by
How deep the yearning cry
Of Childhood Dreams
And of lives unredeemed
Reflecting on lives well spent
And better times which went
Of Long Forgotten yesterdays
Hush whispers the mother to its young
Stay calm until the morning comes
Watch the bird swoop in the morning sky
In the clear blue light of another day
So graceful in its flight
In the early morning light
See how the sun sparkles on the crest of a sea-wave
Filtering its way
Through clouds
And forming a stream of light
So bright -
For now
From the time
When we are born
There is a New Light on the morn
The glorious light of a New Easter Dawn
And in the pale moonlight
I looked out upon this Land
Which cast in this ethereal glow
Seemed etched as though by an Angel’s Hand
Listened to the sea-waves lapping upon the sand
It all became so clear
A beautiful landscape within my sight
I knew such beauty bestowed upon us
Came from the Grace of light

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Against the Wind "Six Ribbons"

Against the Wind is a made for television series of 13 parts which I have recently viewed on you tube.
This series is well recommended and describes the difficulties encountered by the early immigrants and
convicts in New South Wales, Australia.  It is quite compelling viewing and I enjoyed watching this series.
The first episodes are set it in Ireland and thereafter in the new colony of New South Wales.
 The characters needed to be quite strong to survive the rigours of their ordeals at sea, as convicts in the new land and also as new colonists at the time.
A theme song of the series is "Six Ribbons" which is quite beautiful by Jon English.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

This wonderful story appealed for its beautiful story line and also for

the magnificent descriptive quality of the prose.  A Paris book-seller

had been in love with a woman and the story details

his love and loss and how he eventually comes to terms with his grief

for the loss of his love which endures for many years.


Jean Perdu ( John Lost) travels through France on a boat on the Seine River

traversing different regions and counties, rivers and canals and eventually

arrives in beautiful Provence.  There is a map of his travels by water and by road listed at the beginning of the book.


This is indeed a fascinating story of love and loss and also a story of great beauty,

the meaning of love and loss.  I enjoyed reading this story though I was surprised

at times to read the travel diaries of Manon, (Jean Perdu’s lost love) also included in the story.  This book

has been translated into English and was originally published in Germany.


There are interesting and fascinating characters in the story whom Jean

Perdu relates to well after living a life of seeming isolation for many years.

The characters also add colour and joie de vivre to the novel with their

myriad emotions, reflections on life, eccentricities and their joy of living.


To me the most beautiful aspects of the book are the wonderful descriptions

of river life while travelling on the barge, the little towns and villages and also

the beauty of the landscape under the skies of Provence.  The mountains,

the little villages and the greenery of trees and pasture and the beautiful lavender fields described almost as a chequered quilt, so beautiful!


This book also gives a great understanding of life and the turmoil some

people may encounter.  I enjoyed reading this book and it is well recommended. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mistress of Beauty

Mistress of Beauty

Mistress of Beauty is the story of Agnes Sorel, a
demoiselle at the court of Isabelle of Lorraine
who subsequently became a mistress of Charles VII
of France  was given the Castle of Beauty, also the city of
Vernon and other beautiful estates.  I enjoyed
reading this book for the wonderful descriptions of life
at the French court during the Valois era and the magnificent
pageantry of the knights and the colourful royal processions
in which even the horses were richly caparisoned in the colours
of the owners with rich braid threaded through their manes and tails.
This story is quite unique in its telling with the majesty of the royal
castles of the time, the story of Good King Rene and his mother, Queen
Yolande of Aragon, who lived at the Castle of Saumur and the various
members of the royal court and the courts of Lorraine and Anjou.  Styles
of dress, entertainments, jousting and the politics of the time are all
included in this epic story.

 Charles VII’s son, the Dauphin, who later became Louis XI
is a character in the book as is the well known merchant, Jacques Coeur, who
had his beautiful palace at Bourges.  The story of Agnes Sorel is quite poignant and
told from a unique perspective.  It is quite a beautiful story.  The King, Charles VII,
became a more assertive and stronger king more sure of himself from earlier times.
He also became successful and claimed territories from the English with
his new found confidence.

Mistress of Beauty is the second novel in a renaissance trilogy written by
Princess Michael of Kent.  The first book is the Queen of Four Kingdoms
the story of Yolande of Aragon, which I have not read as yet.  I have previously
read The Serpent and The Moon by Princess Michael of Kent which was set during
the time of Henri II of France and is the story of Diane de Poitiers and the king  and also
Katherine de Medici.  This book is also gives wonderful detail of renaissance France and
the life-style of the time.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

One Summer in Venice

One Summer in Venice

Nicky Pelegrino has written a wonderful book about a woman who visits Venice initially for a week’s holiday and decides to continue her stay in the city over the summer months.  The author brings the city of Venice to life with the whimsical characters Addolorata (Dolly) meets and also the atmosphere of the beautiful city by the sea which is built on a lagoon.
There is a Countess in a once imposing palace but which is now badly in need of maintenance and furnishings, an eccentric friend, Coco, who may influence Dolly in some respects regarding her outlook on life and the beautiful dog, Boris, whom Dolly takes for walks around this  fascinating city.  The reader actually sees another Venice altogether from the Venice of the tourists.
There is the wonderful architecture, the dancing in the moonlight and the setting sun by the magnificent churches which give an added appeal and also a beautiful glow to the city, the joie de vivre of the populace and the wonderful neighbourhood get togethers.  It is a unique insight into the beauty of Venice where the people gather for morning coffee and there are wonderful descriptions of the Venetian food, travel by gondola and magnificent celebrations and religious festivals of which Venice is renowned for with masques, balls and fireworks over the lagoon.
There is also romance in this story and also the story of Dolly’s other life in London.  Sometimes she appears to be caught between the two different lives (one in London and one in Venice) and she has to choose what is important for her.  Dolly also has an interesting list of happiness and every so often she will write on her list what makes her happy.
This is an inspsirational book and also one which is well recommended.  I have previously read a Nicky Pelegrino book which was also set in Italy.  This was “The Gypsy Tea Room” also published under the title of The House at Villa Rosa which I also enjoyed reading.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pegasus by Danielle Steel


Pegasus is a wonderful novel by author Danielle Steel.  It is a beautiful story of two families, who left familiar homes and country to start a new life in USA and also England.  The war years intervened and the story continues to the following generations.  This novel is very inspirational and also gives the reader a sense of belonging to this story.  It certainly is an achievement as the characters of the novel seem so real.

I loved the story, which opens in the beginning chapters in Bavaria, Germany and continues the narrative in USA and gives the reader  an understanding of the lives the people led before the intervention of the war years and how lives were disrupted and also how fortunes could change.
This book is also a beautiful story of the Lipizzaner horses, beautiful horses which were trained for the Spanish Riding School.  This aspect of the novel is also quite beautiful and very poignant to read of the bonds which were formed between the horses and their owners, in particular, the beautiful white horse, Pegasus, and Nicky, a main character of the novel.

This book is a wonderful story of life and love, friendships which endured and a story of the main characters and how their lives panned out over many years, which entailed even working in a circus in USA,which in itself, was a revelation for the wonderful descriptions of circus life and the animals as well as the life in the circus for Nicky and his two sons, Tobias and Lucas.  The story of Pegasus and the links formed between the two families, of which Pegasus is a saving grace, is a recurring theme of the novel.   A wonderful story and well recommended. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The House by the Dvina by Eugenie Fraser

The House by the Dvina, A Russian Childhood by Eugenie Fraser
This is the most wonderful book describing the beauty of living in Old Russia during the author’s childhood.  A fascinating insight into a beautiful era which is now lost.  The author’s parents were Scottish and Russian.  Her mother left Scotland as a young bride to live in Archangel, Russia with her husband.  The author was born in Russia.
Included in the story are relatives, friends and family and what a story it is!  So beautiful initially with sometimes holidays also to Scotland.  The wonder of the fairyland of beauty during the winter when all was cold and still and the river froze over but yet there were incredible scenic delights and splendours.  Wonderful sleigh and reindeer rides, travelling on sledges and memorable Christmas and Easter celebrations.  Midnight Easter services with lighted candles and laden Easter tables with Easter eggs and wonderful delicacies. 
  However, this idyll was not to last as the Bolsheviks even came to Archangel eventually with their policies.
 So many changes and disruptions to the families and people who had lived and worked all their lives in Russia.
The stories of the people are quite incredible and also beautiful.  There is also wonderful romance and fascinating detail regarding life in Old Russia, even stories from the earlier generations, of a great-grand-father who married a serf and of long journeys through the snow.
There was the beauty of life by the River Dvina which was a source of much needed water, vital for washing and also wonderful during the summer time for bathing and boating.   A beautiful garden and summer houses and a house with balconies overlooking the river whereby could be seen the glow of the sunset at the end of a summer’s day.  This was the last the author saw of this beautiful house from a boat which crested a wave and she could see the house bathed in a beautiful sunset glow.
This book certainly is a book to think about afterwards.  So much beauty and fascination within its pages and the tragedy of events for many of the characters in the story which finally followed are not revealed until the end of the book.
An excellent story and well recommended.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

A more detailed review of A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

This is a later review which gives more information:

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
This novel is a wonderful read and well recommended.  A lovely novel which I enjoyed.
This book portrays the difficulties of young women in the early days of Ireland in the 1950’s and continues with the stories of the characters to the present day and how they overcame their difficulties in life.  Chicky, who left Ireland at an early age and made a life for herself in USA but eventually returns to the place she always loved.
A week in winter is a beautiful holiday destination on the wild coast of Ireland where some of the characters resolve their differences and learn to live with one another.  The holiday alters their perspectives on life and they decide upon their futures.  It is a wonderful book.  There is the story of the accountant who is expected to join his father’s firm in Sweden but instead enjoys the freedom of travelling in Ireland and becoming immersed in the rich Irish heritage and music when he meets up with a travelling companion and they go to music gigs together. 
Each person has a unique character and often a perplexing or difficult background.  It is wonderful to read about these characters and how they change their lives for the better. 
This book cannot be more highly recommended.  I loved reading this story about the various people who chose to go on holiday to this special place in Ireland.  It is quite extraordinary in the way that people’s lives could work out the way they did and also there is romance alive in this novel.
It also details some of the challenges young people have to face in early life or difficulties encountered bringing up a child who is veering towards leading a life of crime and how the situation is reversed for the better. 
There is also the story of the mother and the prospective daughter-in-law who do not see eye to eye and do not get along.  However, this situation also is resolved in the end.  It is quite incredible, really.  Maeve Binchy also writes about life and she does this so well. 
A beautiful novel of charm to read.

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
This wonderful novel by Mave Binchy is a story about life.  The author writes so well about the people who inhabit the pages of this magnificent story of life and love, of general direction in life, the stories of the main characters who at one time meet up at a beautiful place on the west coast of Ireland.
 The story flows and gives wonderful insights into the lives of the characters, their place in society and how their lives pan out in directions they would never have believed possible.  It is an extraordinary story told with spirit and optimism.
This book is well recommended.  The characters are diverse, the situations different and the setting of a magnificent backdrop of the Irish coast is a delight.  Readers and followers of Maeve Binchy will enjoy reading this latest novel published in 2012. 
A Week in Winter is an exciting book to read with an unusual set of circumstances which do tend to make the reader think about life and its many complexities.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Girl Next Door by Ruth Rendell

The Girl Next Door by Ruth Rendell

This book by Ruth Rendell gives an interesting perspective of England in the days of the 1930’s and 1940’s.  A crime is not resolved until many years later when the children and adolescents of the 1930’s and 1940’s who are now older look back to a time when they were young and used to play in the qanats or tunnels on the outskirts of London.   It was also a time when they often had to take shelter underground during the air raids.
What appeals to me about this book is that it is such a wonderful portrayal of life and characters and how they choose to live their lives, the dilemmas they have faced and how they go about resolving their differences.  The story is quite unusual and also complex in the beginning as there are many characters to keep track of initially.
This book has a charm and a quality quite unique which I enjoyed for the eccentricities of the main characters  who seemed very human.  Ruth Rendell is writing about life in this regard.  Rosemary and Alan, children and grand-children and the dilemma and shock Rosemary has to deal with, Michael and his children and elderly father who had sent him away at an early age.
This book is quite an unusual story but wonderful for a portrayal of the early years in England during the war years and also for being able to understand the qualities of people in different circumstances and an uncanny knack of knowing how people will react to certain situations.  A very good book to read.  This book also seemed very real to life with the interesting portrayals of the characters.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Regent's Park by Paul Rabbitts

Regent’s Park
From Tudor Hunting Ground to the Present
By Paul Rabbitts
I have enjoyed reading this wonderful book which tells the story of
the development of Regent’s Park over time.  This book gives fascinating
insights into the decisions of the times and the workings of parliament and
local bodies.
A majestic park, which was once a forest, nearly lost during the time of Queen
Mary I and subsequently destroyed is by Oliver Cromwell, who had many of the
trees in the forest cut down for timber.  There are prints included and also
aquatints which show the park from earlier times.  There is a lovely rural scene of
Marylebone Park, which was its previous name in 1750.  There was a Plan of Improvements
For Marylebone Park in 1809 by John White, which preserved rural characteristics with
Housing around its perimeter.  It is mentioned that White’s design would have influenced
John Nash’s ideas but that White was never acknowledged.
After reading so much of the history of the park, the villas, and people who occupied them, the
stories of the architects and the wonderful town planning of the park and Regent Street I would
like to visit Regent’s Park on a visit to London.
 The history is wonderful and this book by Paul Rabbitts describes in detail the beauty of the designs of the villas and gardens of Regent’s Park.  For all who love London, this book is a treasure.  It also gives information regarding the greenery and recreation areas needed as cities grew in population.  A wonderful informative read!
Pictures of the various villas are included and also the beautiful flower gardens and lake.  A wonderful chapter on “Regents Park: a literary park” describes the wonders of the literary poets and writers and their impressions of the park given in their stories   and also songs, as for example, references to singers and the park’s alluring qualities.  To be at the top of Primrose Hill and see a beautiful sunrise is extraordinary and described as being very beautiful.  A wonderful experience which seems to be magical.

It is indeed fortunate that this park is now available for the enjoyment of visitors, tourists and people because of decisions made by The Regent and also John Nash who was responsible for many of the designs.  People interested in town planning would also enjoy reading this book. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Poetry for Poetry in Pariadise 2014 - What is Love

A poem for Poetry in Paradise of 2014 - What is Love

Poetry for December 2014

What is Love?

From marble top mountains
To a grand plateau
The golden light streams
In infinite reams
Mirrored in your dreams-
Beckoning glorious wonders
Upon the morrow;
Intricate, reeling,
This golden light:

Is this beauty love?
For all to see
Which sets us free?
Or more-
Faith, hope, love,
Do these embody love
-for eternity?

We go to other reams-
An aching heart
A dull ache-
Sorrow, sadness,
Joy,  togetherness-
Does this mean love?
Love for a person, or animals,
Friends, family, relatives
Where does love end?
With all good wishes to send-
To a friend.

Love does not end-
It endures,
As seasons come and go
As infinite as the tides
Ebb and flow
Where ripples appear silver
In the moon’s tow
As a bird builds its nest
For its little chicks to rest,
In trees graceful
 and also knowing
Of the seasons
 coming and going;
 giving welcoming shade
and towards the end of day
 lengthening shadow over
sun-kiss’d fields of clover;
the pathway of a golden ray
Glorious in its way;
Delicate as a flower,
A golden daffodil,
In a sea of grass
Untrammelled as a sea-horse
On a rocky mountain pass;
Given to nature
by its stature-
Love which is meant to be,
Strong as a fortress tower
Never wavering, whichever way,
As a beautiful lady and her knight
In a garden bower
Surrounded by flowers of a sweet bouquet
Music, poetry and minstrels play;
Soft as a piano’s silent note
Beautiful as a lark
Of which nature’s seasons wrote
In a Summer’s Arc:
Love which cannot be
contained in the dark;
As the knight
To his lady said,
That, now,
“Thou shall be wed!”-
Summonsed by imagination
A ring of diamond stones
Glittering  bright as any
of queens sitting on thrones;
 Thus the knight
pledges his troth
as was his wont-
 romance, chivalry

Graceful as a swan
On a river of dreams,
 Or a gazelle-
Gracious as in Solomon’s Song;
Beauteous as a lily
In a river throng-
where daisies and buttercups
Lift their faces to the summer sun
This colourful scene:-
And at the end of the day,
Sheltered by night
Cooled by breezes light
They dip their little faces,
 nod in conspiracy
and sagely agree
this lily is the decorative one.

A majestic tree
In a Russian land
Leaves shimmering
 in myriads of patterns
of light-
Burnished gold, sunset colours
Entrancing, enchanting,
As coins tossed and turned
and glimmering
in wayward delight;
A message of love to deliver-
The secret rites of nature.
When the light of a golden dawn
Touches gently upon the tops of trees,
Glimmers on roof-tops,
 over fields and across the lawn
newly sprinkled with drops of dew
Seeing nature itself renew
Then we see beauty from above
The wonder and magic of love.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn

In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn

This book by Natalie Gueninger and Sarah Morris gives a wonderful historical
account of the places where Anne Boleyn visited during her life-time.  Wonderful chateaux
in France, stately tudor mansions and beautiful lost palaces and majestic castles which hark back
to an earlier time in history.

I found this book informative and would also be useful as a guide if visiting some of the places
mentioned.  There is Hever Castle, childhood home of Anne Boleyn, where her father is buried
at the chapel of St Peter with the full regalia in brass of the Order of the Garter.

There is also the history of the Tower of London, which at one time was also a palace for royalty
and Anne Boleyn was accommodated here before her coronation.

Wonderful snippets of history are included in the book which also portrays a time of romance and
elegance from another era.  Anne Boleyn was created Marquess of Pembroke at Windsor Castle and Blenheim Palace is built across the valley from the Lost Palace of Woodstock.  There is a little village of Woodstock in Oxfordshire. 
It is interesting to note also that Anne Boleyn may have been inspired by the interior decorations of the renaissance which she would have become accustomed to during her time in France.  These renaissance themes may also have influenced her decisions when Henry and Anne were decorating Whitehall Palace and other places.
It is also sad to think that so many old palaces and castles from tudor times have been lost because of fire, civil unrest or from not being maintained in a proper manner over the years.  However, there are still many emblems of tudor life to be seen and many old medieval tudor themed villages in England with the timber framed houses to view.
 Many of the grounds of the castles are described vividly with orchards, gardens, tiltyards, fish ponds and it is easy to imagine the beautiful scenery of a bygone era when the king, queen and court would go on their progress around the countryside visiting many of the stately manors and castles.    This book is highly recommended and gives the reader a fascinating insight into the layout of the castles, grounds and gardens and the way of life lived in many of the rooms of the lost palaces and castles.  It also gives wonderful insights into the romance of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. e.g. The palace of Havering-Att-Bower which was a palace given to Anne Boleyn on her marriage to
Henry VIII, which was set upon a hill overlooking the Thames Valley with beautiful park land.  This was an old Saxon castle and popular with kings and was known as  the Palace of the Queens from the days of Queen Eleanor’s dower.
  Abbeys are also included in this book, though unfortunately many of these were lost with the dissolution of the abbeys and monasteries during the reformation years.  Notley Abbey was restored by Vivien Leigh and Sir Lawrence Olivier in the 1940’s.
This book is certainly evocative of earlier times of enchantment and romance with the lovely descriptions of scenery and locations brimming with fascinating history.  A book which is lively and interesting and a wonderful companion to take on a journey throughout some of the byways and paths travelled by Anne Boleyn and Henry in England.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The House at Riverton Kate Morton

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

The House at Riverton is a compelling tale set in the days of the 1920’s  with references to the present day where we see the main character of the story, Grace, as an elderly lady who recalls past events in her life.

The story is quite riveting and fascinating.  A beautiful mansion set in wonderful landscaped gardens with an Icarus fountain and statues of Eros and Psyche  and also memorable characters who live and work at the house at Riverton.  A beautiful place with a lake and summer house.  A place which lent itself to wonderful entertainments and soirees.

A place also, where Grace spent so much of her life at from the time of arrival at age 14.  The place and her duties there as a domestic servant and subsequently as a lady’s maid inspired in her a life-time of devotion and loyalty.

There were so many new things for Grace to learn and assimilate and over time she came to learn about matters which had not been brought to the surface.  As though so many things about her life were kept hidden from her.  In many respects, this book is also psychological as well as being a mystery.

It tells of a time of beauty and elegance, a way of life which  was more in keeping with the Victorian era and values and of a world on the brink of change.

The lives of Hannah and Emmeline, two aristocratic sisters, coincided with the life of Grace.  It was also a story of an aristocratic family of England before and after the First World War;  how the the war years  affected the fortunes of the family and the perils of social change in the class system of the time.

The dialogue of the story and characterisation are absolutely thrilling.  The story at times is also tense and emotional.  It also reflects the modes and manners of the time.   It is a wonderful story which I highly recommend.

 There is also an interview with the author who describes her interest in the times of the 1920’s and gives further reading material.  There are also questions posed regarding the story and its characters for discussion at reading groups.