#BookReview by Lou of #NonFiction – Rowntrees by Paul Chrystal @penswordbooks #PaulChrystal

Rowntrees
By Paul Chrystal
Rated: 5 stars *****

 There is more to just eating confections than meets the eye! This is delectable book for history and confectionery lovers the world over!
This book, as much as it looks into the very being of Rowntrees and other companies, with them at the centre, it has more to it than meets the eye!
Thanks to Pen & Sword for accepting my request to review this wonderfully interesting book, which goes into little known corners of the confectionary world with its very interesting insights.
Please follow through the blurb and then onto my review to discover more…

Blurb

Rowntrees coverThe Rowntree family, especially Henry and the younger Joseph Rowntree are, along with the Fry’s, Cadbury’s, Mars and Terry’s, synonymous with the birth and growth of the chocolate industry in Britain. Between them, they were the chocolate industry in Britain.

This book charts the fascinating story behind the birth and development of the chocolate empire that was Rowntrees. Background information to this astonishing business comes by way of chapters on the early history of the Rowntrees, contemporary York, the relationship between Quakers and chocolate, and the Tuke family – without whom there would have been no Rowntrees, and no Kit Kats.

Henry, it is usually forgotten, was the founder of Rowntree’s – he made the momentous decision to sign the deal with the Tukes and we join him in those very early days of the fledgling company and watch how he helped it through some very dark, and sometimes humorous, times in what was then a very shambolic set up – cash strapped and making it up as the company lurched from crisis to crisis. Joseph, his elder brother, it was, who became the driving force to eventual global success, mixing his hectic business life with acts of compassion and a benevolent management model, all of which paved the way for decent wages, pensions, insurance and mutual respect in the workplace. Charity work extended beyond the factories to lift workers and others out of the slums of York to a life in a healthy model village, to provide a good social life, an extensive park, swimming pool and education for children and adults. More context is given with chapters on Joseph’s relentless industrial espionage, the advancements in chocolate production and 20th century rivals in the domestic and export markets, and mergers and acquisitions.

Rowntree’s role in the two world wars is also covered along with the struggle Joseph Rowntree had accepting the importance of advertising. Altogether this book gives two fascinating biographies of two exceptional and driven brothers who came together to form one of our greatest companies – producing some of our best loved confectionery products.

Rowntrees cover

Review

Rowntrees is about that famous family, especially Henry and Joseph who are synonymous with the birth of chocolate and in how it has grown.

It charts how Henry is the founder of Rowntrees and it details about his younger brother Joseph. It’s one for the reader with a sweet-tooth and with an interest in how these companies came about, as it has other confectionary companies mentioned too. The pace is excellent for such a historical non-fiction book. It’s interesting as Henry and Joseph Rowntree weren’t just pioneering chocolate, but also in treating their staff well. It demonstrates their philanthropy and human interest and industrial relations, influenced by them being Quakers. The book has lots of context to it and mentions Lewis Fry and George Cadbury as well as The East India Tea Company and Nestle and how events influenced their ways of working and brought about meetings with Samuel Tuke, who is a key man.

There is plenty of history, even if you don’t have a sweet-tooth as it isn’t all chocolate related. It chronicles improvements to buildings and schooling and the contributions the Rowntrees made and how Joseph, especially, had been active in so many good causes.

There’s a lot to learn about the Confectionery Industry from the Mid nineteenth century onwards. It’s written in a manner as though studies have just been done and the information is unfolding for the first time. This style of writing brings some excitement to the book, especially when talking about what chocolate contains and how cacao can be consumed. The book shows differences in branding and advertising, which is a bit like an exclusive sneaky peak behind the scenes. It’s interesting what is uncovered within the book, including competition and the concerns of industrial espionage.

As the book takes readers through the years, its pace builds up some excitement as chocolate emerges and becomes established in York, England. Although there are a lot of figures and dates, it adds to the context and doesn’t detract from the rest of the facts, so even if figures aren’t your thing, the rest of the book might well be and the pace is kept-up.

In the modern day, there seems to be more discoveries and it is exquisite that there are still old traditions that still survive today. It truly is all a delightful feast for the eyes and it may just make you want to buy some of Rowntree’s confectionary as you read the rapid rise and rise of it all as it documents drinking chocolate, eating chocolate, sweets such as humbugs and pastilles, all of which still survive today.

The book nicely and respectfully concludes with The Last Will and Testament of Henry Isaac Rowntree and the heritage and suggests where to find further reading on the subject matters within the book. Beyond that, there are pictures of the Rowntrees and George Cadbury as well as some of the architecture, landscape and advertisement posters of their times, which is a delight to see.

Buy Link: Pen & Sword Books (Publishers)

#Bookreview by Lou of The Domestic Revolution by Ruth Goodman @OmaraBooks @LoveBooksTours #History #NonFiction

The Domestic Revolution
By Ruth Goodman
Rated: 4 stars ****

The Domestic Revolution takes readers to the 16th Century, where fascinating change is afoot. The Domestic Revolution is the start of the Industrial Revolution to accomodate changing desires. This Domestic Revolution firmly places changing times right into the home in a relatable way. Think history isn’t for you? Think again, The Domestic Revolution shows the progression of life and it is relatable to what we have today in an accessible style.
The book is already praised by her fellow historian – Lucy Worsley.
I thank Love Book Tours for inviting me onto the blog tour and for providing a beautiful hardback copy.
Follow down to the blurb and full review for more about the book and more of my thoughts on it.

The DomesticRevolution (1)

About the Author

For the first time, shows how the Industrial Revolution truly began in the kitchen – a revolution run by women|Told with Ruth’s inimitable wit, passion and commitment to revealing the nitty-gritty of life across three centuries of extraordinary change, from the Elizabethan to the Victorian age|A TV regular, Ruth has appeared on some of BBC 2’s most successful shows, including, Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, Tudor Monastery Farm, Inside the Food Factory and most recently Full Steam Ahead, as well as being a regular expert presenter on The One Show|The critically acclaimed author of How to Be a Victorian, How to be a Tudor and How to Behave Badly in Renaissance Britain

Blurb 

A large black cast iron range glowing hot, the kettle steaming on top, provider of everything from bath water and clean socks to morning tea: it’s a nostalgic icon of a Victorian way of life. But it is far more than that. In this book, social historian and TV presenter Ruth Goodman tells the story of how the development of the coal-fired domestic range fundamentally changed not just our domestic comforts, but our world.

The revolution began as far back as the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, when London began the switch from wood to coal as its domestic fuel – a full 200 years before any other city. It would be this domestic demand for more coal that would lead to the expansion of mining, engineering, construction and industry: the Domestic Revolution kick-started, pushed and fuelled the Industrial Revolution.

There were other radical shifts. Coal cooking was to change not just how we cooked but what we cooked (causing major swings in diet), how we washed (first our laundry and then our bodies) and how we decorated (spurring the wallpaper industry). It also defined the nature of women’s and men’s working lives, pushing women more firmly into the domestic sphere. It transformed our landscape and environment (by the time of Elizabeth’s death in 1603, London’s air was as polluted as that of modern Beijing). Even tea drinking can be brought back to coal in the home, with all its ramifications for the shape of the empire and modern world economics.

Taken together, these shifts in our day-to-day practices started something big, something unprecedented, something that was exported across the globe and helped create the world we live in today.

The Domestic Revolution

Review

The Domestic Revolution takes readers through the midsts of time and how the excavation and use of coal had a real impact in shaping lives and expanding what could be achieved in the home. It was a real game changer when it came to, not just how homes could be heated and how people could bathe but also in how and what could be cooked. In our homes today, it may be hard to believe, especially for younger generations who have perhaps not experienced a coal fire etc, but this was a vast change in technological advancements and improvements to what industry could do and for what people in the home could do, especially where women were concerned.
There were advancements in soap-making and it shows that, even though humans now know that coal can’t last forever (it is worth bearing in mind that in the 16th century, this and the effects were not known, it was instead an exciting development), the things we do see today, may not have come into being may not have ever happened and we may not use what we do today as the technologies wouldn’t exist. So, as far as the book goes, it does make you think about the world today, but also reminds us that this was a big deal and much needed thing for many advancements of today. It was one that was brought about by ordinary people as well as the more wealthy that changed the landscape and has some positives and some negatives to it, as argued out in the book. There was a Domestic Revolution afoot and people wanted change and it sowed some of the seeds for the Industrial Revolution to be able to accomodate people’s desires, as illustrated in this beautifully bound book.

It makes for a fascinating book that can be easily dipped in and out of or read all at once. It’s fairly easy-going in style, once it gets going after a bit of a sluggish start. I guess, like the Industrial Revolution, nothing happens overnight. It makes you think that every time there is change in energy supplies, there will be pros and cons. Every sentence contains a dollop of information. It is well laid-out where the text is and the pictures are to convey and back up the written word.It is clearly well-researched and there is a huge bibliography that accompanies it at the back of the book.