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Round About Chatsworth
Round About Chatsworth
by Deborah Dowager Duchess of Devonshire
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Love Affair with Chatsworth, 18 July 2011
This review is from: Round About Chatsworth (Hardcover)
My love affair with the Cavendish family began when I read the only book ever written about Kathleen (Kick) Kennedy "Her Life and Times" by Lynne McTaggart; "the best thing America ever sent to England" and the darling of World-War-II English society who met and fell in love with Billy Hartington who took her to Chatsworth where fourteen previous generations of Cavendish's had lived.

Where did it all began? The journey I embarked upon took me back in time to Bess of Hardwick, born into the most brutal and turbulent period of England's history who did not have an auspicious start in life. This remarkable woman, widowed for the first time at sixteen, she nonetheless outlived four monarchs, married three more times, and died one of the wealthiest and most powerful women the country has ever seen; building an empire of her own: the great houses of Chatsworth and Hardwick.

The next stop of my journey took me to Chatsworth, one of England's grandest and most visited great houses; a funny, informative and engrossing portrait and of the family with which the house and its contents are intertwined as told by the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire (Deborah) in her book "Chatsworth the House."

The occupants of this great house beginning with Bess of Hardwick, later the Countess of Shrewsbury (1527 - 1608) up until the present owner, Peregrine Cavendish, 12th Duke of Devonshire.

I must admit my favourite Duke was the Sixth Duke, William Spencer Compton (1790 - 1858) fondly known as the Bachelor Duke. His love of Chatsworth, his delight when a new wonder was added to the many already there, his passionate interest in the house and the garden, the intense satisfaction of the great years of creation with Joseph Paxton, his gardener and friend, his pride of ownership and extreme liberalism in his wish to share the enjoyment of his possession with anyone who might be passing, and his keen appreciation of work done for him by his employees.

The next stop of my journey was the book "Round About Chatsworth" by the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. A legendary place that has been presided over by the same family for more than 450 years, Deborah tells the story of the glorious and superbly kept estate that surrounds Chatsworth. This book brought me to the remarkable Mitford family as portrayed by Mary S. Lovell "The Mitford Girls" - a biography of an extraordinary family which inspired dozens of books but surely this book one of the best. Six daughters born between 1904 and 1920 of the charming eccentric David, Lord Redesdale and his wife Sydney had been quite ordinary women, encompassing the most traumatic century in Britain's history, and the status to which they were born, made their story a fascinating one. The "mad, mad Mitford's" were and are far from ordinary.

But my favourite Mitford girl most definitely is the youngest girl Debo. A funny, witty and loveable character telling her story in "Wait for Me!" describing her parents, talking candidly about her brother and sisters and their politics, finally setting the record straight. Unity her elder sister, however a close second; anyone who loves pet rats are very special. Simply the most remarkable little animals - like their owners, intelligent, clever, funny, adorable; loveable traits rolled into one remarkable personality.

At the age of twenty-one Debo married Andrew Cavendish, who succeeded as the 11th Duke of Devonshire. With an enthusiasm and ability to get things done, she played an extremely active role in restoring and overseeing the day-to-day running of the family house and gardens, and in developing commercial enterprises such as the successful Chatsworth Farm Shop and Children's Farmyard.

Deborah is a natural writer; she has a knack for the telling phrase, hitting the nail on the head, culminating in a host of books by this witty author.

My journey ends with "In Tearing Haste" - letters between Deborah and Patrick Leigh Fermor as edited by Charlotte Mosley.

In spring 1956 Deborah invited the writer and war hero Patrick Leigh Fermor to visit Lismore Castle, the Devonshire's' house in Ireland. This halcyon visit sparked off a deep friendship and a lifelong exchange of sporadic but highly entertaining letters full of laughter and humour, these letters will delight Leigh Fermor and Mitford fans alike.

Sadly Fermor died on June 10, 2011 at age 96. A linguist, novelist, soldier, conversationalist and romantic, he left school at 18 to walk across Europe, a tale he told later in two books, "A Time of Gifts" and "From the Woods to the Water."


Chatsworth: The House
Chatsworth: The House
by Deborah Dowager Duchess of Devonshire
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Love Affair with Chatsworth, 18 July 2011
This review is from: Chatsworth: The House (Hardcover)
My love affair with the Cavendish family began when I read the only book ever written about Kathleen (Kick) Kennedy "Her Life and Times" by Lynne McTaggart; "the best thing America ever sent to England" and the darling of World-War-II English society who met and fell in love with Billy Hartington who took her to Chatsworth where fourteen previous generations of Cavendish's had lived.

Where did it all began? The journey I embarked upon took me back in time to Bess of Hardwick, born into the most brutal and turbulent period of England's history who did not have an auspicious start in life. This remarkable woman, widowed for the first time at sixteen, she nonetheless outlived four monarchs, married three more times, and died one of the wealthiest and most powerful women the country has ever seen; building an empire of her own: the great houses of Chatsworth and Hardwick.

The next stop of my journey took me to Chatsworth, one of England's grandest and most visited great houses; a funny, informative and engrossing portrait and of the family with which the house and its contents are intertwined as told by the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire (Deborah) in her book "Chatsworth the House."

The occupants of this great house beginning with Bess of Hardwick, later the Countess of Shrewsbury (1527 - 1608) up until the present owner, Peregrine Cavendish, 12th Duke of Devonshire.

I must admit my favourite Duke was the Sixth Duke, William Spencer Compton (1790 - 1858) fondly known as the Bachelor Duke. His love of Chatsworth, his delight when a new wonder was added to the many already there, his passionate interest in the house and the garden, the intense satisfaction of the great years of creation with Joseph Paxton, his gardener and friend, his pride of ownership and extreme liberalism in his wish to share the enjoyment of his possession with anyone who might be passing, and his keen appreciation of work done for him by his employees.

The next stop of my journey was the book "Round About Chatsworth" by the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. A legendary place that has been presided over by the same family for more than 450 years, Deborah tells the story of the glorious and superbly kept estate that surrounds Chatsworth. This book brought me to the remarkable Mitford family as portrayed by Mary S. Lovell "The Mitford Girls" - a biography of an extraordinary family which inspired dozens of books but surely this book one of the best. Six daughters born between 1904 and 1920 of the charming eccentric David, Lord Redesdale and his wife Sydney had been quite ordinary women, encompassing the most traumatic century in Britain's history, and the status to which they were born, made their story a fascinating one. The "mad, mad Mitford's" were and are far from ordinary.

But my favourite Mitford girl most definitely is the youngest girl Debo. A funny, witty and loveable character telling her story in "Wait for Me!" describing her parents, talking candidly about her brother and sisters and their politics, finally setting the record straight. Unity her elder sister, however a close second; anyone who loves pet rats are very special. Simply the most remarkable little animals - like their owners, intelligent, clever, funny, adorable; loveable traits rolled into one remarkable personality.

At the age of twenty-one Debo married Andrew Cavendish, who succeeded as the 11th Duke of Devonshire. With an enthusiasm and ability to get things done, she played an extremely active role in restoring and overseeing the day-to-day running of the family house and gardens, and in developing commercial enterprises such as the successful Chatsworth Farm Shop and Children's Farmyard.

Deborah is a natural writer; she has a knack for the telling phrase, hitting the nail on the head, culminating in a host of books by this witty author.

My journey ends with "In Tearing Haste" - letters between Deborah and Patrick Leigh Fermor as edited by Charlotte Mosley.

In spring 1956 Deborah invited the writer and war hero Patrick Leigh Fermor to visit Lismore Castle, the Devonshire's' house in Ireland. This halcyon visit sparked off a deep friendship and a lifelong exchange of sporadic but highly entertaining letters full of laughter and humour, these letters will delight Leigh Fermor and Mitford fans alike.

Sadly Fermor died on June 10, 2011 at age 96. A linguist, novelist, soldier, conversationalist and romantic, he left school at 18 to walk across Europe, a tale he told later in two books, "A Time of Gifts" and "From the Woods to the Water."


Jerusalem: The Biography
Jerusalem: The Biography
by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars NO HUMAN CAN EVER POSSESS JERSUSALEM, 11 July 2011
`O Jerusalem: the one man who has been present all this while, the loveable dreamer of Nazareth, has done nothing but increase the hate." (Theodor Herzel - Dairy).

Sebag Montefiore is the most effortless guide. You wander by his side through the centuries, beginning with the Kingdom of David and Solomon, and the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah (1000 - 586 BC), The Empires (586 BC - AD 1918), Jerusalem in the First Century AD and Jesus' Passion, The Crusader Kingdoms (1098 - 1489), Mamluk and Ottoman Jerusalem (1260 - 1917), up until Jerusalem in the Early Twentieth Century.

This book is much more than history, it is a tapestry richly woven of Jerusalem the Holy City, but also a `chronicle of an often penurious provincial town amid the Judean hills' as stated by the author. The everlasting struggle between Abrahamic religions, Christian, Jewish and Islamic fundamentalism culminating in the clashing of civilizations between atheism and faith.

One of the legends of the Crusades - Saladin; the man who drove the Crusaders from the Holy Land, who conquered provinces and gathered incredible wealth, gave everything away and died so poor that, wrote one of his friends `we were obliged to borrow money to purchase everything necessary for the funeral, even down to the things that cost him but a half-penny, such as the straw to be mixed with the clay for the bricks of his tomb.' The tomb chapel is no larger than an ordinary room. Over the door these words were written centuries ago in Arabic: ` O God, accepts this soul, and open to him the gates of Heaven, that last victory for which he hoped,' as described by HV Morton `In The Steps of the Master.'

Likewise a letter of Richard the Lionheart to Saladin who says that Jerusalem is for us an object of worship that we could not give up even if there were only one of us left; and Robert the Bruce who wished his heart to be buried in Jerusalem and his dying command to take his heart from his body after death and carry it into battle against the enemies of Christ.

In these words lies the fixation with Jerusalem through the centuries whether you were king, patriarch, pope, pauper, Jew, Christian or Muslim. To be able to die in the Holy City and to be buried next to the Golden Gate; the meeting-place of God and man - Jerusalem in which is situated the sacred shrine of the most high God, will be where the Apocalypse - the End of Days - will be settle between Christ and anti-Christ according to Scripture.

This high city that is Jerusalem, perched above ravines and lying among the debris of centuries, might it seemed, be the abode not of men and women and children, but the dwelling-place of ruthless emotions such as Pride and Arrogance and Hate - the place that crucified Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

Sparkling and profound scholarship is constantly interwoven into the splendid and most terrible things that have happened behind her walls by the author. Strange that the greatest event in the history of mankind should have occurred on this bare plateau; and stranger still, perhaps that Jerusalem should still wear her historic air of intolerance, and the voice of the Lord that said, `O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.'

And to conclude with the author's words, today Jerusalem still is `So loveable in many ways, so hate-filled in others, always bristling with the hallowed and the brash, the preposterously vulgar and the aesthetically exquisite, seems to be more intensely than anywhere else, everything stays the same yet nothing stays still. At dawn each day, the three shrines of the free faiths come to life in their own way.'

And as from the beginning of time; earthly kings and lords are not its masters. No human can ever possess Jerusalem.


The Andy Warhol Diaries Edited by Pat Hackett (Modern Classics (Penguin))
The Andy Warhol Diaries Edited by Pat Hackett (Modern Classics (Penguin))
by Andy Warhol
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.95

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Andy's Diary is a Smasheroo, 4 July 2011
Andy Warhol was a bundle of contradictions - he was sensitive, witty, caring, outrageous, honest, scared, generous, and insecure and the most important a philosopher of life - that's what his Diary is all about.

In his life featured the Who's Who of the famous and the infamous; he knew them all - gays, lesbians, drag queens fags and fairies.

Honest and churchgoing - "So we're at the dinner and they introduced me to the cardinal and he said, `I hear you have a nephew who's a priest,' and I said, `Oh, yes, but he just ran away with a Mexican nun.' And when I said that, Fred yanked me away and was screaming at me, how could I do that to the cardinal when he was half-gone (he had a stroke) and there were only twenty cardinals in the world, and why couldn't I have just said, `fine' and let it go ...' When the Cardinal left he rolled down the window of the car and said, Andy Warhol is such an honest person, he could have lied to me and said his nephew was fine, but instead he told me the truth and I love his art and I know he goes to church every Sunday.'

Funny - `I watched Tarzan on cable and Bo Derek is the worst actress in the world. She was eating a banana, and she couldn't even eat a banana. It was like she had no teeth.'
Used funny words like stinkeroo and smasheroo.

Preoccupied with young beautiful people and his own looks - `But tell me why it is that everybody is so good-looking now. In the fifties, there were the really good-looking people and then all the rest who weren't. Today, everybody is at least attractive. How did it happen? Is it because there's no wars to kill the beauties?'

`Oh, and I look so bad I need a facelift. Makeup doesn't do it, you still see the sunken cheeks and the neck - you can't hide the neck even with a turtleneck.'

Kind-hearted - he loved animals - apart from his own two dogs Amos and Archie who he deeply cared about he loved to take old bread and feed it to the doves. `It's freezing and the heat's not coming up, and I'm still having waterbug problems. I corner this one bug every night and then I can't bring myself to kill it. He's been eating my food for the past three years.'

`And I killed a roach and it was trauma. A very big trauma. I felt really terrible.'

Realistic - `I'm sick of the way I live, of all this junk, and always dragging more home. Just white walls and a clean floor, that's all I want. The only chic thing is to have nothing. I mean why do people own anything? It's really so stupid."

Generous - `Grace Jones pulled out a big wad of hundreds and was going to pay and then I said that I would (dinner $280).'

Philosopher - `I'm still looking for ideas. This fall it'll be a whole new look, new people. Because five years into the decade is when it really becomes a decade. The eighties - they'll be looking over all the people and picking the ones from the last five years that'll survive as the eighties people. It's when the people from the first five years will either become part of the future or part of the past.' (he said this one year before his own death - and he certainly became part of the future).

Insecure and scared - he needed a bodyguard or someone reliable to walk him home - `No no, I don't love my name so much. I always wanted to change it. When I was little I was going to take `Morningstar,' Andy Morningstar. I thought it was so beautiful. And I came so close to actually using it for my career. This was before the book, Marjorie Morningstar. I just liked the name, it was my favourite.'

On life and death - `Health is wealth. I broke something and realized I should break something once a week to remind me how fragile life is.'

`Really what is life about? You get sick and die. That's it. So you've just got to keep busy.'

Conclusion of the reader - I'm not gay, lesbian, a fairy or whatever, I'm strait - but oh Andy, I would have loved to be that special friend you could have relied on 24/7 that you have craved for all your life - rest in peace Andy `Morningstar' - you were a good soul.


Cartier
Cartier
by Hans Nadelhoffer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £42.00

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Diamond is NOT Forver!, 27 May 2010
This review is from: Cartier (Hardcover)
When Louis-Francois Cartier (1819-1904) established his first modest business in 1847, who would have thought that half a century later Cartier's name would draw within its orbit the wealthiest of international customers?

The Cartier phenomenon was the achievement of Cartier's three sons; Pierre (in charge of Cartier New York), Louis (in charge of Cartier Paris), and Jacques (in charge of Cartier London) who built an empire and divided it up among themselves. Their clients (for all their diverse backgrounds) had one thing in common - unlimited wealth.

Cartier notched up an illustrious list of Royal Warrants; King Edward VII and King Alfonse XIII of Spain (1904), King Carlos Of Portugal (1905), King of Siam and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (1907), King George I of Greece (1909), King Peter of Serbia (1913), Duc d' Orléans (1914), King Albert I of Belgium (1919), King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Prince Albert of Monaco (1920), Prince of Wales (1921), Queen Marie of Romania (1928), King Fuad of Egypt (1929) and King Zog I (1939).

The type of jewellery designed was much influenced by fashion as a whole. From 1900 there were striking parallels in the ranges of the couturier on the one hand and the jeweller; the Louis XVI style of Marie Antoinette and the Directoire style (a result of Sarah Bernhardt's appearances in Sardou's Tosca).

At the turn of the century were two opposing forces in jewellery design, the supporters of the elegant garland style led by Louis Cartier and the supporters of Art Nouveau (religious themes and patriotic jewellery which emerged during the First World War).

Under the spell of Fabergé Cartier were unable to match the variety of enamel colours of their Russian models, but succeeded instead in creating a number of new colour combinations, such as the blue-green or violet-green match which Louis Cartier himself liked.

Following the murder of the Tsar and his family, the Russian aristocracy and members of the imperial household fleeing their country, a lot of magnificent jewels, in particular that of Grand Duchess Vladimir and the Yusupov treasure were sold on the European market.

The series of historic stones handled by Cartier's as brokers offers a glimpse into a realm of cultural history which tells of private destinies, shattered hopes, ambition and tragedy and sometimes, fleeting happiness.

It seems that the famous slogan of De Beers South Africa "A Diamond is Forever" is simply not true.

The American "Royalty" who so feverish wanted to emulate court life - the Vanderbilt's, De Rothschild's, Walsh McLean dynasties and others - baubles would be completely out of place in today's society. I mean, who can visualise a Barbara Hutton wearing the famous emeralds of Grand Duchess Vladimir in a tiara and the 38.19 carat `Pasha' diamond set in a ring? Or the most precious cascade of coloured diamonds known to history, the ceremonial necklace of the Maharaja of Nawanagar? Or the `Star of South Africa' pear-cut diamond weighing 47.69 carats as a pendant brooch?

Maybe that's why the Onassis heiress (Anthina) has sold her mother's jewellery simply finding it to ostentatious to wear. Elizabeth Taylor seldom wears her `Burton-Taylor' diamond weighing 69.42 carats.

Maybe we should leave the tiaras for the few Royal heads that's still left in Europe to wear. But even sometimes, Queen Elizabeth looks "surreal" wearing her magnificent tiaras and saffaire necklaces in this day and age.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 31, 2012 11:15 AM GMT


The House of Hervey
The House of Hervey
by Michael De-la-Noy
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Colorful Hervey Characters, 1 April 2010
This review is from: The House of Hervey (Hardcover)
Very disappointed with this book. It's almost like the author copy-paste from history sources and newspaper articles. Unlike Marcus Scriven's book about Victor (6th Marquess of Bristol) and his son John Jermyn (7th Marquess of Bristol) who had indept interviews with friends, families and acquintances this book revealed nothing new.


Splendour & Squalor: The Disgrace and Disintegration of Three Aristocratic Dynasties
Splendour & Squalor: The Disgrace and Disintegration of Three Aristocratic Dynasties
by Marcus Scriven
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Whitest Black Sheep of Them All !, 1 April 2010
I've bought this book primarily to read about the late John Jermyn, 7th Marquess of Bristol. I've waited a long-long time for some details on his life and I was definitely not disappointed. A great read. Very informative, funny and sometimes hilarious. I always try and read any biography with an open mind no matter what the criticism of the people involved. However, I don't have much sympahty with either Edward, Angus or Victor, but I do have a lot of sympathy with John. He had charm, great wit, intelligence and above all compassion - unlike his father who had treated him like dirt. No wonder he had to escape his miserable childhood through drugs and drink. John ... you truly were the whitest black sheep of them all!


Camelot at Dawn: Jacqueline and John Kennedy in Georgetown, May 1954
Camelot at Dawn: Jacqueline and John Kennedy in Georgetown, May 1954
by Anne Garside
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Brief Shining Moment, 10 Oct. 2007
The year 1954 has a special meaning for me as it was the year in which I was born.

In the Kennedy family, Joe Senior's hopes and expectations centred on Joe Junior who was the undoubted star of the family. The tragic loss in 1948 during World War II of the family's golden boy was a shattering blow, particularly to Joe Senior. The mantle now passed onto Jack, who became only too aware of the level of expectation that now rested on his shoulders.

But in the end Jack's charisma, dynamism and good looks garnered the votes and Jack became the youngest ever president of the United States of America.

I think it must have been a time in Jackie's life which she treasured above everything else, before the Presidency robbed them so to speak of their privacy and Jack's infidelities and peccadilloes became common knowledge.

Nevertheless, the photos of this book and a glimpse into their relatively "humble" beginnings is enchanting. The young Jackie reminded me a lot of Audrey Hepburn with her short hair, and I think it suited her well. Jackie's regal bearing and elegance is evident in every photo and the most charming one is of her in an evening gown lighting the candles at the dinner table.

She looked indeed unearthly - and as Jack described his wife with one word "fey." As the author of this book so aptly explained: "A Scottish word that describes people with an other-worldly quality, individuals with almost a glimmer of doom about them."

Prophetic words so it seemed in the end. Jackie was indeed a haunting beauty on the eve of Camelot that night ... and their subsequent 1,000 days to reign in the White House was one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot."


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