Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2018, Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2018

Wedlock – Wendy Moore #20BooksofSummer

Non-Fiction
4*s

Wedlock has an extended title How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met His Match caught my eye back in 2009 when this book was first published but it wasn’t until August 2017 when I actually purchased a copy for myself.

Now regular readers have probably worked out I’m a big fan of the Victorian and Edwardian periods of history but I don’t tend to venture back as far as the eighteenth century too often so Wendy Moore was always going to educate me on the social mores of the time, and she did that in spades.

Mary Eleanor Bowes, who became Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne on her first marriage, was one of the richest heiresses of the time when she inherited her father’s fortune on his death when she was just eleven-years old. When she was sixteen she became engaged to John Lyon and because her father’s will stipulated that her husband should assume his family name, the Earl addressed parliament with a request to change his name from John Lyon to John Bowes, which was granted. They married on her eighteenth birthday on 24 February 1767. Over time through their children the name was combined with a hyphen and the Queen Mother was a direct descendent of this union.

The couple lived an extravagant life, Mary often left alone whilst John concentrated on restoring the family seat, Glamis Castle, found amusement with other men but she was proud to announce that all five of their children were legitimate. Sadly, or perhaps not that sadly from Mary’s point of view as she wasn’t well-treated by John, he caught TB and died in 1776.

What happens next absolutely proves the saying fact is stranger than fiction with the “worst husband” being Mary’s second foray into marriage. We go from illegal abortions to duels to imprisonment and all manner of horrible happenings which I’m not going to recount at length because that would spoil the revelations of the book itself, if you haven’t already read it.

This book is billed as reading like fiction, and for a book that is so jam-packed with information which has clearly been meticulously researched (there are pages and pages of references at the end), it does. It’s always hard to fully put yourself in the shoes of someone whose life is of a different style to your own, and Mary Bowes was incredibly rich, she originally inherited over a million pounds and that was in 1760! It is even harder when society was so very different and I’ll be honest, when she was young Mary played to her strengths and whilst I wouldn’t suggest that she deserved all that happened next, she didn’t treat potential suitors well and so it’s not altogether surprising that she didn’t come up smelling of roses. She also wasn’t a maternal woman, and even given the times I was shocked that she openly wrote how much she despised her eldest son. But what I couldn’t help but admire was her tenacity in making sure her second husband John Stoney didn’t get away with his dastardly deed, and she did it! John Stoney was a cad, he spent money that he didn’t have and one of the more random facts I learnt while reading Wedlock was that his name is the reason where the saying ‘Stoney broke’ originated. As often happens when you learn something like that the next three, yes three, books used the phrase and each time I had a little smile about it.

This really is a remarkable piece of writing, the book is long, but so entertaining and let’s be honest shocking; I wasn’t being overly dramatic with my fact is stranger than fiction assertion. If I didn’t know this was a true account, I wouldn’t have believed some of the things that were revealed.

Wedlock was my third read in my 20 Books for Summer 2018 Challenge and this exploration of the life of albeit one very rich wife and mother in the eighteenth century made me very glad to have been born much later when society no longer saw the woman as property of a man, either her father or her husband.

First Published UK: 2009
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
No of Pages: 521
Genre: Non-Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (June 5)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week I’m sharing the opening paragraph of Wedlock: How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met His Match by Wendy Moore which is one of my 20 Books of Summer 2018 Challenge.

Blurb

WEDLOCK is the remarkable story of the Countess of Strathmore and her marriage to Andrew Robinson Stoney. Mary Eleanor Bowes was one of Britain’s richest young heiresses. She married the Count of Strathmore who died young, and pregnant with her lover’s child, Mary became engaged to George Gray. Then in swooped Andrew Robinson Stoney. Mary was bowled over and married him within the week.

But nothing was as it seemed. Stoney was broke, and his pursuit of the wealthy Countess a calculated ploy. Once married to Mary, he embarked on years of ill treatment, seizing her lands, beating her, terrorising servants, introducing prostitutes to the family home, kidnapping his own sister. But finally after many years, a servant helped Mary to escape. She began a high-profile divorce case that was the scandal of the day and was successful. But then Andrew kidnapped her and undertook a week-long rampage of terror and cruelty until the law finally caught up with him. Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

1

An Affair of Honour

London, 13 January 1777

Settling down to read his newspaper by the candlelight illuminating the dining room of the Adelphi Tavern, John Hull anticipated a quiet evening. Having opened five years earlier, as an integral part of the vast riverside development designed by the Adam brothers, the Adelphi Tavern and Coffee House had established a reputation for its fine dinners and genteel company. Many an office worker like Hull, a clerk at the Government’s Salt Office, sought refuge from the clamour of the nearby Strand in the tavern’s first-floor dining room with its elegant ceiling panels depicting Pan and Bacchus in pastel shades. On a Monday evening in January, with the day’s work behind him, Hull could expect to read his journal undisturbed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Well that sounds like quite a lovely way to spend an evening even if I’m unsure how John Hull links to the scandal that I want to know about.

What do you think? Would you keep reading? Perhaps you’ve already read this, what did you think?

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2018

20 Books of Summer 2018! #20booksofsummer


Cathy at Cathy 746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2018 and running until 3 September 2018, and once again I’ve decided to join her. My aim this year is to read and review all twenty books in the allotted time span!!

As I’m competitive I’m signing up for the full twenty. My personal challenge is to read these twenty books from my bookshelf, physical books that I already own. Funnily enough I have plenty to choose from a total of 109 although my choices for The Classics Club were discounted for this challenge.

Because I know that facts in one book tend to lead me to seek out other books in my tangential reading style, I’ve decided to start with a spread of genres and authors for the first ten books – a book set at sea and one in a drought, the life of a servant jostles with the details of a life of one of Elizabeth II’s ancestors and of course a bit of solid crime fiction has snuck its way in too.

Book lovers will completely understand the hours I have spent honing my choices which have been further complicated to include some faithful friends that are to accompany me on holiday.

Rest assured the second set of ten will be posted when these are all finished, which should be in mid-July, if I’m on schedule!

The links below will take you to the Goodreads description

American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin

Mrs Woolf and the Servants by Alison Light

Seven Days in May by Kim Izzo

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Sanctum by Denise Mina 

Raven Black by Ann Cleeves

Child’s Play by Reginald Hill

Master Georgie by Beryl Bainbridge

The Dry by Jane Harper

Wedlock by Wendy Moore

I will be joining Cathy by tweeting my way through the challenge using the hashtag #20booksofsummer to demonstrate when one of my reads is part of this challenge! Should be easy eh?

As in the previous two years there will be a master page linking the titles to my reviews as they are posted, and of course eventually listing the entire twenty books.

Top of my holiday reads is Reginald Hill, I always read one of his books on holiday as does Beryl Bainbridge, so they were always going to join me. If it’s too hot I will open a copy of Raven Black to transport me to Shetland but I’m not sure my conscience will allow me to read about the life of servants while sipping cocktails!

I recently posted a tag My Name in TBR Books and was encouraged to read Life After Life so that one will also be joining me.

So what do you think of my choices? Where would you start?

I’ve enjoyed looking at everyone else’s choices so far and after all having read the full list of 20, I will need replacements.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (August 27)

Weekly Wrap Up

This Week on the Blog

The week started with a tale of an investigation into a fictional murderess in 1950s England as I reviewed Peter Robinson’s Before The Poison.

On Tuesday I followed this up with another tale set in the 1950s, also with a dual time-line in the modern day, – The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase – I hope my review conveyed just how much I loved this book.

This Week in Books saw me highlight books by the authors Santa Montefiore, Herman Koch and A.J. Waines

On Thursday I hosted a guest post by Simon Booker entitled ‘The Camaraderie of Crime’ as part of the blog tour for his latest book, Kill Me Twice, the second in the Morgan Vine series

My review of the stunning The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne came next, a book I fully admit I should have got around to reading many years ago.

Finally I reviewed Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood which was another book that had been on my ‘to read’ list for a while and one I chose as part of my 20 Books of Summer Challenge – this book was every bit as good as I’d been led to believe. The extra bonus is that I can now enjoy the adaption coming up on Netflix this autumn.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst, a psychological thriller based around female friendship. Jenny Blackhurst didn’t go for the more obvious new friendship that wasn’t quite what it seemed as a basis for this story, she chose to use three long-standing and mutually supportive friends with the ‘sensible’ role having been assigned, as might be expected, to Karen the psychiatrist. As you might expect something or someone is going to upset this mutually supportive group!

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover

Blurb

Karen is meant to be the one who fixes problems.

It’s her job, as a psychiatrist – and it’s always been her role as a friend.

But Jessica is different. She should be the patient, the one that Karen helps.

But she knows things about Karen. Her friends, her personal life. Things no patient should know.

And Karen is starting to wonder if she should have let her in . . . Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Well I’ll let you into a secret… I’ve been on a little bit of a book buying spree!

After loving The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde as much as I did, I simply had to buy a copy of Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase

One golden family. One fateful summer. Four lives changed forever.

Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family’s country estate where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, one stormy evening in 1968, it does.
The idyllic world of the four Alton children is shattered. Fiercely bonded by the tragic events, they grow up fast. But when a glamorous stranger arrives, these loyalties are tested. Forbidden passions simmer. And another catastrophe looms . . .
Decades later, Lorna and her fiancé wind their way through the countryside searching for a wedding venue. Lorna is drawn to a beautiful crumbling old house she hazily remembers from her childhood, feels a bond she does not understand. When she finds a disturbing message carved into an old oak tree by one of the Alton children, she begins to realise that Black Rabbit Hall’s secret history is as dark and tangled as its woods, and that, much like her own past, it must be brought into the light.
A thrilling spiral into the hearts of two women separated by decades but inescapably linked by Black Rabbit Hall. A story of forgotten childhood and broken dreams, secrets and heartache, and the strength of a family’s love. Amazon

And because I’d read Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinéad Crowley the first in the Claire Doyle series and had a copy of the third book, One Bad Turn, I needed to read Are You Watching Me?

Blurb

strong>Dear Elizabeth, I’ve been watching you. I hope to see you . . . Soon.

Liz Cafferky is on the up. Rescued from her dark past by the owner of a drop-in centre for older men, Liz soon finds herself as the charity’s face – and the unwilling darling of the Dublin media.
Amidst her claustrophobic fame, Liz barely notices a letter from a new fan. But then one of the centre’s clients is brutally murdered, and Elizabeth receives another, more sinister note.
Running from her own ghosts, Liz is too scared to go to the police. And with no leads, there is little Sergeant Claire Boyle can do to protect her. Amazon

And just because I have realised quite how much I have missed reading non-fiction since choosing a few for my 20 Books of Summer Challenge, I have a copy of Wedlock: How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met His Match by Wendy Moore

Blurb

WEDLOCK is the remarkable story of the Countess of Strathmore and her marriage to Andrew Robinson Stoney. Mary Eleanor Bowes was one of Britain’s richest young heiresses. She married the Count of Strathmore who died young, and pregnant with her lover’s child, Mary became engaged to George Gray. Then in swooped Andrew Robinson Stoney. Mary was bowled over and married him within the week.

But nothing was as it seemed. Stoney was broke, and his pursuit of the wealthy Countess a calculated ploy. Once married to Mary, he embarked on years of ill treatment, seizing her lands, beating her, terrorising servants, introducing prostitutes to the family home, kidnapping his own sister. But finally after many years, a servant helped Mary to escape. She began a high-profile divorce case that was the scandal of the day and was successful. But then Andrew kidnapped her and undertook a week-long rampage of terror and cruelty until the law finally caught up with him. Amazon

What have you added to your shelves this week? What do you think of my finds?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read just 2 books and gained 5!
Making a Grand Total of 182
Physical Books – 103
Kindle Books – 62
NetGalley Books – 18