Book review -Essex Tudor Rebel by Tony Riches

Genre – Historical. This is the second book in Tony Riche’s Elizabethan series. The story is set in England during the later years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1. It follows the life of Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, from his father’s death in Ireland in 1576, leaving him “the poorest earl inContinue reading “Book review -Essex Tudor Rebel by Tony Riches”

A turd in your teeth (and other colourful insults)

I came upon this pungent epithet in a book by Ruth Goodman on renaissance Britain. Roughly translates as “eat shit”! Many people know that popular swear words like “struth” originated in the more religious times of pre Reformation England when “shock factor” in swearing came from using sacred words to add colour and emphasis toContinue reading “A turd in your teeth (and other colourful insults)”

First wipe your spoon

He took a last mouthful of potage, wiped the worst of the mess off his spoon and replaced it in his purse. The Tawny Sash I may have mentioned before the common misconception (born of Hollywood) that table manners were non existent during the times of the Tudors and the Stuarts. Wrong! Sitting down toContinue reading “First wipe your spoon”

Book review- Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair

This historical romance, by the Scottish author of The Mermaid and the Bear, continues following the Monteith family. Sinclair’s second novel is set in the 1740s during the fateful years leading up to Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite rebellion and its aftermath. Beginning in the castle near Aberdeen, the action quickly shifts away from Scotland however,Continue reading “Book review- Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair”

(And) when did you last see your father?

The Victorians have a lot to answer for. I love this famous 19th century painting by Yeames, with all its colourful, misleading detail. The bad guys are dressed in black with tall hats. The good guys (who are mainly damsels in distress) wear lace, velvet, satin. Unfortunately for the story, it is somewhat spoiled byContinue reading “(And) when did you last see your father?”

Ghostly warriors

“Would Byron’s men haunt the Down in years to come, a restless and wild eyed horde charging into the guns of Waller’s army for evermore?” (From The Welsh Linnet) Visiting battle fields is a melancholy, but addictive, pursuit. At some places the air remains thick with the ghosts of the dead. I visited Culloden atContinue reading “Ghostly warriors”

Interview with historical novelist Penny Ingham

If I had made it to the UK in 2020 as planned, I might have been able to sit in the same room with Penny as we chatted. But this year it was of course done remotely. Penny has written three historical novels, all set in the early medieval period: The Saxon Wolves, The SaxonContinue reading “Interview with historical novelist Penny Ingham”

A fine day for killing

“It would be a fine day tomorrow, a fine day for killing or being killed.” My hero, wandering through the camp the night before the 1644 battle of Cropredy Bridge (a bit like Henry V), muses philosophically on the weather. Living in Melbourne, it is sometimes hard to remember how cold and wet British summersContinue reading “A fine day for killing”

Let them eat cake

If Marie Antoinette had little idea, supposedly, of what her own, poorer fellow countrymen ate, the task for the historical novelist is of course harder. So what was available in 1640s England? “Can’t they eat something but stew?” my editor complained, tired of the monotonous diet of the roving armies. They could, of course. ButContinue reading “Let them eat cake”