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Michelle Higgs (Stourbridge, West Midlands, UK)

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The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the Victorian Titanic
The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the Victorian Titanic
by Gill Hoffs
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.59

5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting, yet heartbreaking read, 22 April 2014
Before reading this book, I had never heard of the ill-fated RMS Tayleur and perhaps it’s no wonder, given the hundreds of shipwrecks every year in the Victorian period. Gill Hoffs’ The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: the Lost Story of the ‘Victorian Titanic’ is beautifully written in a readable style. Using contemporary newspaper reports and the survivors’ accounts, she tells the story of the RMS Tayleur’s maiden voyage: from the pomp and celebration of its launch in Warrington and the first signs of problems with the crew handling the ship, through to it hitting the rocks off Lambay, the shocking deaths of around 360 passengers and crew despite being so close to land, and the aftermath for the 280 survivors.

Carefully researched in meticulous detail, the book is a real page-turner because it tells the stories of the passengers and crew, and their search for a better life in Australia, followed by their ultimate fates. The heart-rending eyewitness testimonies of the survivors will stay with you long after you finish reading the book.

Breach of Promise to Marry: A History of How Jilted Brides Settled Scores
Breach of Promise to Marry: A History of How Jilted Brides Settled Scores
by Denise Bates
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Shedding Light on a Forgotten Aspect of Social History, 21 April 2014
Breach of promise was a law in force between 1780 and 1970 under which a jilted man or woman could seek damages after a broken engagement, yet today it’s largely forgotten. Denise Bates’ book ‘Breach of Promise to Marry’ sheds light on this little known law and explores the different ways in which it was used to claim for compensation after a seduction led to pregnancy; to exact revenge and financially ruin an ex-suitor; to illegally extort money in order to set up home with another lover; or simply to seek recompense for ‘hurt feelings’.

Meticulously researched, this book is packed with detailed case studies and information from contemporary sources such as newspapers. What’s clear is that the road to matrimony was fraught with difficulty and it was a foolish man who proposed marriage and then broke off the engagement. ‘Breach of Promise to Marry’ is a fascinating read for anyone interested in social history.

The Real Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Story of Jerome Caminada
The Real Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Story of Jerome Caminada
by Angela Buckley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Mix of Victorian Social History and Crime, 21 April 2014
I’m fascinated by all things Victorian, particularly social history and crime, so I was really looking forward to reading this book – and it did not disappoint. At its heart is Jerome Caminada, a strong resourceful man, who worked his way up from humble beginnings to become a highly successful detective in the Manchester Police Force.

Using Caminada’s own words, newspapers and other contemporary sources, Angela Buckley has written a well researched, detailed and readable book which effortlessly brings this period of history to life. I was captivated by the stories of poverty and crime she has woven into the narrative, and of the descriptions of Manchester's crowded, grimy streets.

It makes no difference to me if Jerome Caminada was the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes or not because Caminada deserves a place in history in his own right. In writing this book, Angela Buckley has brought his story to a wider audience, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in Victorian social history or crime.

Replacement Earpads 13Mm
Replacement Earpads 13Mm
Offered by PoundMax
Price: 0.70

4.0 out of 5 stars So far so good, 8 Feb 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Was unsure after reading some of the other reviews but didn't particularly want to spend a lot on these. They arrived very quickly. They did appear rather inferior quality compared to the ones which came with my Sony earphones and which lasted over a year (used daily). But I managed to get the first pair or replacement pads fitted with no tearing - they actually seem quite elastic - and comfortable in the ear. Will see how long they last, but should probably replace them more often than the originals I had anyway for purposes of hygiene. So on the whole I'm pleased with my purchase so far.

Brahms: Complete Piano Quartets
Brahms: Complete Piano Quartets
Price: 12.39

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic recordings not to be dismissed!, 27 Jan 2010
Sorry, but I can't agree with the other review of these classic recordings of Brahms' piano quartets. Brahms often needs a more red-blooded approach than is sometimes heard. The Beaux Arts Trio with Walter Trampler and Menahem Pressler provide this but also perform with all the sensitivity, verve, and above all musicality, which so strongly characterise Brahms' chamber music. The beautiful slow movements contain all the necessary lyricism without being bland, while faster movements such as the fiery Hungarian gypsy rondo finale of Quartet no.1 are full of the excitement one would hope for, yet with no loss of control.

These recordings have long remained in the catalogue and for good reason (3-stars in the Penguin Guide). For many musicians (including myself) they would be first choice for the complete set. If one has to pick and choose, then perhaps for added nobility (and panache in the rondo finale of no.1), Artur Rubinstein's recording with members of the Guaneri Quartet on RCA would be first choice - though sadly no.2 is not included in that set.

Brahms - Piano Works
Brahms - Piano Works
Price: 7.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brings out the poetry as well as 'the beef'!, 8 Jun 2009
This review is from: Brahms - Piano Works (Audio CD)
I purchased this 2CD set of Brahms piano music primarily for the 1st CD, because I was lacking decent modern recordings of these pieces in my collection. I already have Julius Katchen's more comprehensive set, and in some of the pieces his performances are to be preferred to Austbo's, but in terms of the sound quality Austbo wins hands down, especially in the Op.10 Ballades and Op.79 Rhapsodies.

Many of these pieces deserve to be much more widely heard. They cover the whole range of human emotions, from the restlessness of the F sharp minor Capriccio Op.76, through the sorrowful B flat minor Intermezzo Op.117, to the magisterial resolve of the final E flat Rhapsody Op.119. What I particularly like about Austbo's playing is that he manages to capture the individual character of each piece so well. Tempi are occasionally slower than we're used to in some of the more capricious as well as the intimate pieces, but if anything this helps to clarify the often complex textures and cross-rhythms in Brahms' piano writing. I've played many of these pieces myself (some with more success than others) and know how difficult they are! Austbo's playing is idiomatic, and contains much poetry, with excellent sense of balance and tonal range.

The only real gripe I have is with the B minor Rhapsody Op.79 (a favourite of mine). For me this is spoiled by inclusion of the first exposition repeat, which I think adversely affects the sense of continuity - my copy of the music leaves it out. Otherwise, however, the performance is spot on. One more thing I'm not sure about is that in the first track there is a very audible intermittent squeak which appears to be on the recording, but I'm not sure if this is just a fault on my copy.

What I actually hope for is that one day the complete Brahms shorter piano recordings of Steven Kovacevich on the Phillips label will be reissued. I still have these on audio casette, as to my thinking they have not been beaten (apart perhaps for Helene Grimaud's wonderfully fresh Op.118 on Denon). Until this time, however, Austbo's set are a very welcome alternative.

Lady  Jane [DVD]
Lady Jane [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jane Lapotaire
Price: 3.50

5 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars They lost their heads, but not their hearts!, 2 Nov 2007
This review is from: Lady Jane [DVD] (DVD)
I've not actually seen this film, but having a familial interest in the Dudleys and Greys I was intrigued by the subject matter. Reading the other reviews, however, I'm not sure I want to see it now, much that I admire Helena Bonham Carter for her other roles and acting generally. The point is, historically, there never was a romance between Lady Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley. It was John Dudley Duke of Northumberland's scheming which brought the ill-fated pair together and nothing more. If the young Jane had had her own way, Guildford Dudley would have been the last person she'd have chosen as her husband. Guildford, for his part may have been smitten with Jane, but Jane did not reciprocate... and who could blame her. Having said that, it might be worth a look just to see how well Jane's villainous father-in-law is portrayed.

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