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SRH (London, England)

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The Other Mitford: Pamela's Story
The Other Mitford: Pamela's Story
by Diana Alexander
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Mitford Bandwagon rolls on., 27 Sept. 2012
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What I was expecting was a new biography of Pamela Jackson (nee Mitford). What I got was a re-hash of information taken from virtually every other book I've read about the Mitford Sisters, with a few pages highlighting Pam at the end. I believe that Diana Alexander genuinely wanted to write a book to match the quality of Selina Hasting's definitive (to my mind) biography of Nancy Mitford, realised that she didn't have the resources to do the necessary in-depth research and so settled for padding out what would have just about made an acceptable magazine article. Sadly, reading the book has not increased my knowledge of Pam, nor my understanding of her character one iota. Although the author spoke to Max Mosley and Lady Emma Tennent, Pam's nephew and niece, about their aunt, there's hardly anything substantial from them in the text. The many years Pam spent in Switzerland are dealt with in some half-a-dozen pages. Its all so superficial.

The book is nicely produced and reasonably well written, although the content is very weak. I have to say that the constant 'Jessica-bashing' got on my nerves and is, in my opinion, unjust. In addition, there is a fair amount of repetition, which I found irritating.

During the course of the book, Diana Alexander mentions the 'Mitford Industry' a couple of times. Many people, myself included, have a genuine interest in this fascinating family and because of this, any book with 'Mitford' in the title is bound to sell regardless of its quality. 'The Other Mitford - Pamela's Story' is yet another example of someone with an average writing ability jumping on to the Mitford Bandwagon. There is definitely room for a definitive biography of Pamela Jackson; sadly, this isn't it. Very, very disappointing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 18, 2012 7:30 PM GMT

The Horror of Love: Nancy Mitford and Gaston Palewski in Paris and London
The Horror of Love: Nancy Mitford and Gaston Palewski in Paris and London
by Lisa Hilton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nancy and Gaston in Paris and London, 26 Feb. 2012
This book does what it says on the cover. It tells you about Nancy and Gaston in Paris and London - and in Morocco and Rome and Venice and everywhere else they went, either together or separately during their long relationship.

I have very mixed feelings about this book. Its structure is logical; the first half of the book consists of potted biographes of Nancy Mitford and Gaston Palewski from birth until they met, thus setting the scene and the second half carries on with their life stories after they met. I knew very little about Gaston Palewski and so found his biographical details interesting and informative (hence two stars rather than one). I have to agree though with one of the other reviewers that Nancy Mitford is much better served by Selena Hastings.

Unfortunately, Lisa Hilton and her publishers have fallen into the trap that many others fall into - assuming that everyone understands French. I find throwing in the odd sentence in French and using colloquial French terms - what's a 'gratin family'??- without offering translation, irritating, patronising and quite frankly snobbish. It's taken me quite a long time to read this book and I don't know why. It might be something to do with the writing style (some odd words - why use 'lubricious' [needed a dictionary for that one], when 'lewed' would do?), which I wasn't wild about, and I certainly won't be rushing out to read anymore of Ms. Hilton's work, regardless of how interested I am in the subject.

Nancy and Gaston were no Athenais de Montespan and Louis XIV and if all the paragraphs that actually refer to their love (on her side; lust on his) affair in this book were added up, I doubt if they would amount to even 20 pages. Most of the rest is padding which, depending on their previous knowledge of the two protagonists, readers may or may not find interesting.

I find neither Nancy nor Gaston particularly sympathetic, although if the feeling that she should've had more sense can be overcome, (he was quite simply, a charming, sexually incontinent con-man in his behaviour towards her)its difficult not to feel slightly sorry for Nancy. It is dreadful to be used. The book tries to bring home how unpleasant and tragic unrequited love is - but you don't need 263 pages to do that.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 23, 2012 12:20 AM BST

The Righteous
The Righteous
by Dr Martin Gilbert
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing, Heartbreaking and Wonderful, 2 Feb. 2012
This review is from: The Righteous (Paperback)
Read all the other books about the Holocaust, watch the documentaries (especially Shoah), shed your tears and then read this book. It will restore your faith in human nature.

The Holocaust happened because it was allowed to happen. Most people know about Denmark saving all but 50 or so of their Jewish citizens, but how many know about Bulgaria (of all places) who said 'No' after the first transportation '-we're not allowing deportation of any more Jewish Bulgarians'. If only other countries had been so brave.

The Righteous is very well written and set out in such a way that its possible to dip in and out without becoming confused. The maps are helpful and Martin Gilbeert demonstrates yet again why he is one of our foremost Holocaust historians. An absolute must for anyone interested in this terrible time.

Hitler's English Girlfriend: The Story of Unity Mitford
Hitler's English Girlfriend: The Story of Unity Mitford
by David Rehak
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.98

23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A 'Comedy' of Errors, 4 Jan. 2012
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I requested - and received - this book as a Christmas gift from a very close friend and was somewhat surprised to see that Hitler's English Girlfriend is only 157 pages long. Nevertheless, it's quality not quantity that counts and so I started to read. Oh dear! The first factual inaccuracy is in the blurb on the front leaf of the dust jacket: 'This is the shocking true story of Unity Mitford, an English girl who was a niece of Winston Churchill.....' No she wasn't; she was Churchill's cousin by marriage. Further errors include:

(i) 'Jessica was only a year older than Unity' - No she wasn't, she was three years younger.

(ii)'Several days later, Bobo [Unity] took Magda [Goebbels] to visit England with her.' No she didn't; it was Kukuli von Arent who accompanied Unity home. The following three pages of reported conversations between Unity and 'Magda' are thus totally misleading.

(iii) After Unity returned to England following her suicide attempt: 'Jessica now saw Unity regularly' and 'Despite their political differences, they [Unity and Jessica]were fast friends once again as in childhood.' No; Jessica emigrated to the US in early 1939 and did not visit England again until the early 1950's. She and Unity were completely estranged.

In the 'Afterword', the author states that 'This is a true story of the people and events surrounding the life of Unity Mitford. Wherever possible, personalities, events and dialogues are accurately reconstructed and represented - in the case of dialogue, often taken verbatim from archival sources and interviews. It is based largely on the recorded reminiscences of the people who knew Unity.' Sadly, nothing is referenced in this book to enable verification and the one person who definitely knew Unity very well indeed - her last surviving sister, Deborah, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, who travelled to Switzerland with Lady Redesdale to collect Unity after the suicide attempt, is not mentioned at all. I wonder why? Other inaccuracies and critical omissions in this 'very well researched' book are far too numerous to mention. The '...entertaining novelistic style' of writing doesn't appeal to me - but that's a personal opinion and would really count for nothing if the content had been factually correct.

Fortunately, I know quite a bit about the Mitfords. What worries me is that people who don't will buy this book as a bone fide biography and read it thinking that it really is the truth.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 21, 2012 4:44 AM BST

The Breast Cancer Prevention and Recovery Diet
The Breast Cancer Prevention and Recovery Diet
by Suzannah Olivier
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.94

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Needs updating, 28 July 2008
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This is a good read. The book was last updated in 2003 and thus there is no mention of aromatase inhibitors for the treatment of hormone sensitive tumours and other advances in treatment over the last five years. Time for another update I think.

The Breast Cancer Book: A Personal Guide to Help You Through It and Beyond
The Breast Cancer Book: A Personal Guide to Help You Through It and Beyond
by Val Sampson & Debbie Fenlon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Approach with Caution, 28 July 2008
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I am sure this is an excellent book for many women. Sadly, I didn't find it particularly helpful. I think part of the problem is that it is a personal guide written by a wife and mother, so there are pages and pages on husbands/partners and children. I am childless and not in a relationship so that large chunks of the book are not relevant to me. My major issue was telling my 81 year old mother that I had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The author also had to tell her mother, which she did over the phone, an episode covered by all of two rather jokey sentences. Apparently her mother swore. I told mine face to face and she fainted. I chose to have my treatment in the private sector. The author had hers on the NHS and thus the section on private treatment is exceedingly weak. Again, it comes down to personal experience. The breast care nurse who is co-author makes no mention of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which is part of the Department of health and regulates all medicinal products on the UK market. The MHRA is an excellent source of information on drugs used in the treatment of breast cancer - it licensed them.
The book is well written, which is to be expected as the author is a journalist, and if you want to read a book on breast cancer, its probably as good as any (and I've looked at a lot). Nevertheless, it didn't provide me with any more information than I easily obtained from Cancer Backup, Cancer Research and other such websites.

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