Review of Servants by Lucy Lethbridge

Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern TimesServants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern Times by Lucy Lethbridge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is made up from a wide range of sources showing the history of servants and those that have spent life in service. The book includes not only those in service and their memories but also their employers. The book also includes various size households showing a vast array of living throughout the classes and ages.
One of the things I liked most about this book was the author’s writing style, incredibly interesting, informative but not patronising. All the source data provided was very clear but did not read like a PhD textbook!
This thing about this book is, it is really thought-provoking. You start to think that these roles in so many cases are still taken for granted: – cooking, cleaning, childcare, gardening, caretaking, nursing etc. Yet they are so critical. Obviously, there are some things in place now to help these roles (couldn’t live without my Dyson!). The book also does give you an appreciation for society and how it has evolved in the past 100 years or so.
Overall this is a very insightful and informative book and I would recommend to anyone that has an interest in social classes, Victorian history or even just a big Downton Abbey fan .

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Review of The Kings & Queens of Anglo Saxon England by Timothy Venning – Factual Book

The Kings and Queens of Anglo-Saxon EnglandThe Kings and Queens of Anglo-Saxon England by Timothy Venning
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After having my attention captured by the recent Vikings tv series I wanted to discover more about the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and those who ran them. I came across this book in a local book store and it seemed to cover a good deal.
My only complaints/improvements are it would have been nice for this book to have an index so that when someone is mentioned you could find them rather than needing to know the dates they ruled first. I would also have liked to have seen some family tree or hierarchical diagrams as sometimes with similar names being involved it became a bit confusing how each person was related.
However, those two little things aside, this book is a really great resource. Very well researched with a lot of information available.

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Review of Disgraceful Archaeology by Paul Bahn & Bill Tidy – 5 Stars

Disgraceful Archaeology: Or Things You Shouldn't Know About the History of Mankind!Disgraceful Archaeology: Or Things You Shouldn’t Know About the History of Mankind! by Paul G. Bahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is like reading an adult version of Horrible Histories. It explores all the horrid, lurid and funny bits of history that the Victorians hoped to hide from the history books.
The authors’ writing styles are fun but still informative, not at all like a history textbook but something that can be read anytime or anywhere (although I will warn you, some parts really do make you laugh out loud). A few of the stories will have the male readers squirming uncomfortably too!
It’s a shame a lot of the material mentioned is locked away and un-visit-able. All in all a good fun read, for those not afraid to learn the real history of humankind in all its glory! Haha.

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Review of Viking Myths and Sagas by Rosalind Kerven

Viking Myths & Sagas: retold from ancient Norse textsViking Myths & Sagas: retold from ancient Norse texts by Rosalind Kerven
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I came across this book in an independent book store so had seen no recommendations or reviews to sway my judgement and I must say it wouldn’t have been a book I would have naturally browse for online. However for those that do come across this book, you are in for a real treat.
This is an excellent and informative book surrounding all the Viking myths and legends. The authors writing style is so excellent and at a perfect pace so that it truly feels like you are sitting round a fire at camp being told a story. I can also imagine this novel as a great inspiration source for writers in the same way Grimm tales are, being adapted and re-told into modern stories.
The range covered in this book is also exceptional, from all the places the Vikings travelled to, to the number of mythical creatures; gods, dragons, trees, trolls, all sorts.
All in all, an excellent, insightful and informative book that I am very pleased to have discovered.

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Review of Durham Murders and Misdemeanours by John Van Der Kiste

Durham Murders and MisdemeanoursDurham Murders and Misdemeanours by John Van der Kiste
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I came across this book while looking around the shelves of a lovely little independent bookshop. The range of cases in the book is intriguing and it is astonishing so many cases took place within a short distance of each other within a relatively short period of time.
The book is well researched as can be seen from the case file extracts and the witness statement extracts contained within this book. Yet John Van Der Kiste also manages to remind readers that these cases involve everyday people; miners, housewives, landlords and labourers. Not the monsters people often expect to find.
The most interesting case is that of Mary Anne Cotton “The West Auckland Poisoner”, as many as twenty may have died at her hand. The details researched are as amazing as the story itself. Sometimes fact is more bizarre than fiction. A very enjoyable read.

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