#Review by Lou of Toksvig’s Almanac by Sandi Toksvig @sanditoksvig @HatchetteBooks @TrapezeBooks #HatchetteAudio

Toksvig’s Almanac
By Sandi Toksvig

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Interesting, fun and purely wonderful in style, Tolksvig’s Almanac is the book that will entertain and take you to corners of facts that you may never come across otherwise. Written and narrated in her own unique style, it’s all fascinating for the brain. If you like QI or Chain of Curiosity, or humour within your history, this is one to check out, in fact a Must Have to add to your collection. Wit, Substance and Facts are all brought to the page in an absolutely marvellous, unique, eclectic, quirky style. It will have you intrigued and have you laughing too as you meander through each month. It is perfect for either listening to all at once or to dip in and out of. It’s such a joy to listen to and it would be to read as well. It is all pitched perfectly. This is one of those  times I’ll say this is a Must Have Book or Audiobook for your shelves.

I’ve read most of Sandi Toksvig’s books – fiction and non-fiction and they never cease to amaze and I have adored her fiction and non-fiction books, ever since Whistling For The Elephant’s was published and read many more since, so I was curious and I loved this too. Thank you so much to Hatchette, Trapeze, Orion Books for accepting my request to review the audiobook version.

The book is available now and I have a link after the rest of my review below…

Toksvigs Almanac Cover

Blurb

Toksvig’s Almanac is intended merely as a starting point for your own discoveries. Find a fabulous (or infamous) woman mentioned and, please, go looking for more of her story. The names mentioned are merely temptations. Amuse-bouches for the mind, if you like. How I would have loved to have written out in detail each tale there is to be told, but then this book would have been too heavy to lift.’

Let Sandi Toksvig guide you on an eclectic meander through the calendar, illuminating neglected corners of history to tell tales of the fascinating figures you didn’t learn about at school.

From revolutionary women to serial killers, pirate nuns to pioneering civil rights activists, doctors to dancing girls, artists to astronauts, these pages commemorate women from all around the world who were pushed to the margins of historical record. Amuse your bouche with:

Belle Star, American Bandit Queen
Lady Murasaki, author of the world’s first novel
Madame Ching, the most successful pirate of all time
Maud Wagner, the first female tattoo artist
Begum Samru, Indian dancer and ruler who led an army of mercenaries    Inês de Castro, crowned Queen Consort of Portugal six years after her death
Ida B. Wells, activist, suffragist, journalist and co-founder of the NAACP   
Eleanor G. Holm, disqualified from the 1936 Berlin Olympics for drinking too much champagne

These stories are interspersed with helpful tips for the year, such as the month in which one is most likely to be eaten by a wolf, and the best time to sharpen your sickle. Explore a host of annual events worth travelling for, from the Olney Pancake Race in Wiltshire to the Danish Herring Festival, or who would want to miss Serbia’s World Testicle Cooking Championship?

As witty and entertaining as it is instructive, Toksvig’s Almanac is an essential companion to each day of the year.

Review

Toksvigs Almanac CoverSandi Toksvig takes you through many facts, philosophies and into corners you may not realise existed before as she meanders through each month of the year. Sure, you’d have heard of the main themes, but she delves into areas, rarely talked about. Sounds serious, but fear not, this is historical fact and humour spun together and also relates back to present times too.
There is much to learn and is well researched, written and (narrated for audiobook, which I listened to), in her own wonderful style that is unique to her and thank goodness for that! Sandi Toksvig makes everything sound very interesting and hooks you in. She adds a bit of her own personal analogies, thoughts and tips that readers/listeners may never have thought of otherwise…

She talks of extraordinary women, some who have achieved many great things, but also those who have committed crimes. There are so many different accounts that is interesting to dip and out of. She encourages people to use this as a starting point and then go off and perhaps look up more info yourself. Sandi Toksvig’s curiosity is also infectious. Her thirst for knowledge is impressive as is her research. All perfectly pitched, it is a Must Have on your reading or listening to lists.

Buy Link: Waterstones   Amazon

 

#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.

#BookReview by Lou of – In The City of Fortunes and Flames – A Freddie Malone Adventure by Clive Mantle @MantleClive @award_books #ChildrensBooks #YA 8yrs plus

 In the City of Fortunes and Flames
A Freddie Malone Adventure
By Clive Mantle
Rated: 5 stars *****

In The City of Fortunes and Flames is where to find a terrific time-travelling adventure to London, in the times of the plague, slavery and The Great Fire of London. This is book 3 of the Freddie Malone Adventure books and it’s quite the page-turner with lots of adventure and action, which is suitable from ages 8 and into younger YA/Teens.
Be re-acquainted with Freddie, Ruby and Connor and also meet some people from history along the way. There is good news in that there will be a further 2 books coming soon.
Find out more about In The City Of Fortune And Flames in the blurb and review…. I happened to have bought this book. It is available as a physical book and an e-book.

Links to books in order :-    
                                     Amazon – Treasure At The Top of The Mountain
                                     Amazon – A Jewel In The Sands Of Time
                                    Amazon – In the City of Fortune and Flames

Blurb

Freddie Malone adventure 3

The mysterious world map on Freddie Malone’s bedroom wall ripples into life and the swirling vortex begins to form, but is Freddie prepared for where – and when – it will take him? Join Freddie, Connor and Ruby as they travel to the plague-stricken and fire-ravaged London of the seventeenth century, where the streets are ruled by a merciless gang of criminals and kidnappers. Stalked through time by the menacing, shrouded figure of the Collector, can the friends outwit their enemies and save history? It’s all just a question of time…

 

Freddie Malone adventure 3

Review

Having read and reviewed and was very impressed by the calibre of the story-telling and the themes of the first two Freddie Malone books, I figured I would review the 3rd. Clive Mantle, quite rightly so, is The People’s Book Prize Winner Author. The books are suitable for confident readers ages 8 years plus. Very nicely this one starts off with what happened previously…

With the magical map Freddie got for his birthday in the first book, the map has more ideas…
The book starts with the brilliant and never-ageing poem – IF by Rudyard Kipling, it’s as pertinent now as it was in 1895, when it was written. IF is also pertinent to portals in this series.

The setting is London and the time is both the present and 1665/1666. There’s a map with a key chart, which illustrates the events at that time and then readers are reunited with Freddie and his friend Connor on a school production of The Pied Piper of Hamlin before a compelling adventure begins.

There are little references here and there of the Nepal (book 1) and  Egyptian adventures (book 2), but it is okay if you’ve not read that one yet as it does also move onwards to this current adventure. This time the portal takes Freddie to London, 1665, where he meets a slave. Samuel Pepys is in need of a servant who can write, so Freddie is tested. There is, like the other books, a lot that children can gain within these books and that can feed their minds and get them curious about history. There’s also the mystery as to why the map took Freddie to 1665 and readers, apart from getting to know Pepys, also get to know something of King Charles II and the plague on Drury Lane. During the segments of Freddie being back in the present with Connor and Ruby, more is told of his journey. As time flips from the past to the present and back again, it is done in such a succinct way, that is easy to follow and understand. It’s a book that children and young teens can really get into as it is an engrossing page-turner. The facts mixed with the fiction is written in an expressive and exciting way with likeable fictional characters meeting those who really lived. This combination works really well.
As time moves on, Freddie (and readers), then experience the atmosphere of The Great Fire of London and the impact it had. There’s also intrigue within this, as indeed within the whole book.

The Treasure at the Top of the World cover          A Jewel In the Sands of Time              Freddie Malone adventure 3

The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn #Bookreview by Lou @franquinn @jessbarratt88 @simonschusteruk #HistoricalFiction

The Smallest Man
By Frances Quinn
Rated: 4 stars ****

Enchanting, refreshingly original with an uplifting quality, The Smallest Man is a great historical fiction book that eases readers through an amazing journey.

Thanks to Jess Barratt at Simon & Schuster for gifting me a proof copy for review.

The Smallest Man

Blurb

‘I want you to remember something, Nat. You’re small on the outside. But inside you’re as big as everyone else. You show people that and you won’t go far wrong in life.’

A compelling story perfect for fans of The Doll FactoryThe Illumination of Ursula Flight and The Familiars.

My name is Nat Davy. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? There was a time when people up and down the land knew my name, though they only ever knew half the story.

The year of 1625, it was, when a single shilling changed my life. That shilling got me taken off to London, where they hid me in a pie, of all things, so I could be given as a gift to the new queen of England.

They called me the queen’s dwarf, but I was more than that. I was her friend, when she had no one else, and later on, when the people of England turned against their king, it was me who saved her life. When they turned the world upside down, I was there, right at the heart of it, and this is my story.

Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is a heartwarming tale about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together.

The Smallest Man cover

Review

The cover is amazing! It takes you on a journey right there and then, with the inside leading you into the life of Nat Davy – The Smallest Man, which is based on a true story, although this a fictional novel, but there is a strong basis of truth to it.  The first page is just utterly inspired! The narrative of how it tells readers, almost accidentally (although obviously it is cleverly thought out), of a little nugget here and there of Nat’s early life just in where he is not going to start his story, but then it all begins in Oakham.

This isn’t your usual sort of story set in such historical times, this takes readers to the fair and not just any fair – to one featuring freak shows and a decision to be made about whether to sell Nat to it or not has to be made. This makes for some great reading and is so different from other historical fiction novels. There are of course characters to be found like a duke, a queen and a king, lords and more, which adds to the exquisitiveness; but then if that doesn’t capture you, there are also gallows and Catholic martyrs. There are also run-ins with Crofts and his gang of friends.

This isn’t some lavish period piece of a season of dancing, nor is it some romp through the bedcovers, this tells a whole different side to history, and more pertinently, within 1625 and still has a richness to the story and in its textures and scenery. It is through the eyes of The Smallest Man and how his life is and how he is different from other people and seen as a freak. There is a tender emotion within the book as well as a sense of surviving and accomplishing against the odds and also shows that no matter how unlikely a friendship is to be formed, there are possibilities that they can. This book has hope within it and is  which in turn adds  an uplifting quality it.

Going deeper into the royal family and what are essentially death threats changes the tone, but still in keeping with the book and moves this plucky, refreshingly written story onto killer plots and a different layer of intrigue.

The Author’s Note is also fascinating and sheds a bit of light on a man, who perhaps was more on the edges of history, but nonetheless interesting.

Some praise for the book:

I loved this book – a fascinating tale of extraordinary accomplishment, and a story about how anything is possible and how love has always been a beacon of hope’ Phillip Schofield

‘An enchanting tale about a small man with a big heart. Nat Davy is so charming that I couldn’t bear to put this book down. I loved it’ Louise Hare, author of This Lovely City

The finished copy has some lovely green sprayed edges to it

#BookReview by Lou of Crow Glen – A Spiritual Universe of An Irish Village – Exquisite and Insightful – 4 stars. #NonFiction

Crow Glen
By Marella Hoffman
Rated: 4 stars ****

 

Exquisite, insightful and erudite into a part of Ireland

Exquisitely written and erudite, Marella Hoffman, originally in Ireland herself, begins looking into Ireland, specifically Gleann an Phreachain or Glen of the Crow and the surrounds of North Cork in ways that are insightful as she takes you on a journey of discovery into people’s present and history, culture where there is heartbreak, joy and more…

Please follow down to discover more in the blurb and review and about the author. There is also a link to her website showing you more about her venture in France as well.
I thank Marella Hoffman for getting in contact to provide a quote for the book and for a review. Please note, my review is non-biased.

CrowGlen, cover

Blurb

An odyssey through big time in a small place, this book unfolds 1,000 years of history in Crow Glen, the village of Glenville, County Cork. Returning to her native place, an emigrant ethnographer uses original oral history recordings, archival documents and collective memoir to reveal the layers of Irish history in this microcosm. The Fianna, pre-Christian nature worship, the Bards, the Famine, the War of Independence, locals’ Catholic practices on the body, in the home and in the landscape – all are resuscitated out of the land, the archives and folk memory. There are circles of emigration and return. Irish Americans come back to the village 170 years after their ancestors’ coffin-ship exodus. Their memories engage a rich dialogue with those of the villagers today. Secrets emerge, revealing historical facts of national importance. We discover that Crow Glen was a major HQ for the Irish armed effort in the War of Independence, hosting visionaries from Thomas Davis to Ernie O’ Malley, Liam Lynch to Tomás Mac Curtain. Crow, the village’s ancient icon, has a bird’s eye view over the centuries and the lives below. He shows us Fagan, the hedge-school teacher; Sweeney, the gamekeeper on the colonial estate; Ó Duinnshléibhe, the Gaelic manuscript calligrapher; and some of the country’s greatest Irish-language Bards who worked in Crow Glen, the Nagle Mountains and the Blackwater Valley from the fourteenth century onwards.Nineteenth-century locals continued Crow Glen’s Bardic tradition with witty songs and biting satires that celebrate the landscape, regulate feuds and remember emigrants. In this book, the land speaks too. Lyrenamon, Mullanabowree, Toorgariffe – exotic placenames stud the area’s black soil like jewels. Townlands speak their original Irish-language meanings, yielding messages about how our ancestors lived there. Wherever we are, the strengths and resources of previous generations in Crow Glen can help us face the challenges that lie ahead of us all today.

Buy Link: Amazon Buy Link With Free Delivery

Review

This is a curious and highly intriguing and interesting book about Crow Glen, a mysterious place near Cork in Ireland. There is even a map of places where people can go on walk and an Irish folk song included, which adds to the richness of this book, which mostly circles around Marella Hoffman, Norma O’ Donaghue, Nell and the Carney’s and also has like a tour round a manor house.

Firstly Marella tells you a little about herself and the research methods she used and her discoveries of historical treasures, including a letter sent to the Prime Minister at the time. The areas of Ireland she researched seem shroud in mystery and spirituality and differing experiences of the place from person to person, as explained at the start of the book. It’s very interesting and very accessible, as is the entire book for any reader interested in Ireland and indeed is from Ireland.

The origins and evolving language is explained in chapter one as is how to get to Glen of The Crow to join in its fairytale state of living, where it seems to be a very unique place where things, including time, don’t totally work in the conventional way. With this book, you’d be sure to find it by the directions given and the rich, scenic descriptions, which seem almost dream-like, as does the ritual of returners and how they are welcomed back into the fold.

The descriptions of the trees within the area is cleverly done, in an almost tactile manner, as though you could reach out and touch them, but the descriptions go even further than that as by now, its all caught up finely and yet deliberately in the mystique and quirks of the place.

There’s an intensity of religion that is conveyed to be rather different from other places. It’s written with, whether you’re a religious or spiritual person or not, in a respectful manner, whilst also with authenticity, with parts of how Marella herself remembers it, but also through talking to Norma. It goes on, into interesting detail about how it is being a Catholic there and how it can become a huge part of life and also how it has changed from historical to present times as it seemed to consume a huge amount of time, compared to nowadays. There is great insight into this way of life and also into people’s homes and also how they sit within the religion and spirituality and explores differing viewpoints. It’s all rather interesting and perhaps not all as your may expect.

The book moves on like a family is leaving Crow Glen in “other worldly” fashion, in the way it is described, which introduces Johanna Carney who is moving away with her large family in 1847. Her homestead still exists, but back then there was hardship and also Cromwell’s army invading.

There are events within this, such as smuggling and of the usual type people would think of. Every so often there are nuggets of the very unexpected that heightens interest more in this place that seems full of curiosities.

There’s a wonderful sense of history that converges with the present, but also what comes across is there are differences too that emerges as time moves on and changes made.

Marella then gets the opportunity to speak with people related to Johanna, where an insightful interview between Chris and Mary takes place, that pulls the reader into learning more about their ancestry from Ireland to America and there is a real sense of the importance of treasuring family history to pass onto future generations to enhance their knowledge.

There is some rich mythology that has spawned from what is a place that seems somewhat hidden, or was and it has taken time for young people to realise there is a whole world, from much of the outside world  like The Children of Lir being turned into swans. It turns into an even more extraordinary book.

It isn’t all spiritual and religion, nor fairytale like, there is a political element to this book further along as well about the 1920’s  and the IRA and spies and an intriguing man who was Lieutenant Seymore Lewington Vincent. This is written in a way that brings another dimension to Glen Crow and Cork and a further understanding of what was going on in the political world. There is also a part which refreshingly details the women’s contribution to the revolution.  This is absolutely not a dry section of the book by any means, but one that gives some history, espionage and action, where there are some twists and turns involving Nell.

 It concludes with a considered and thought-provoking Afterword, followed by a glossary and bibliography.

About the Author

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Marella Hoffman (née Buckley) was raised in Glenville, the Irish village featured in this, her ninth book.
After writing a PhD thesis on literature, she first lectured at University College Cork. She has held research awards or positions at universities in France, Switzerland, the US and at the University of Cambridge, where she was based for almost a decade. She has also worked extensively for governments, designing systems that boost democracy and social justice among excluded communities. Her tools for assisting dialogue between refugees and host communities were published recently as part of a toolkit for the United Nations.

A Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, her books have studied topics like the attitudes of the
permanently unemployed White underclass in an English town; refugees’ experiences of nationality and identity in their adopted homeland; or the ecological practices and lifestyle of an 87-year-old hermit shepherd in the French Mediterranean mountains. Her work has been published by Routledge, the Sorbonne University in Paris, other academic presses, regional publishers and as journalism.

She is married to the author and medical scientist Dr Richard Hoffman. They produce much of their work from their writers’ retreat near the Bordeaux vineyards in southern France, where they are rewilding several acres as an ecological nature reserve. They also accommodate visiting writers and families on holiday. For information, a virtual visit or to holiday at the Bordeaux centre, visit http://www.marellahoffman.com