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R. Davies (UK)

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Young Victoria [DVD] [2009]
Young Victoria [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Emily Blunt
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.25

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh, 11 Sept. 2010
This review is from: Young Victoria [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
I watch a lot of BBC costume dramas on DVD, so found this made-for-Hollywood offering rather superficial and insipid by comparison.

Why they were unable to reflect the real story of the assassination attempt is incomprehensible; does everything have to be glamorised and sugar-coated? The love story of Victoria and Albert needs no embellishment; a strong, accurate script based on the abundance of available material would have been sufficient, because their story can speak for itself.

There was no chemisty between Friend and Blunt. The latter was miscast anyway; Victoria was notoriously plain, squat, with a weak chin and hooded eyes. Perhaps it was felt by the filmmakers that the viewing public is too shallow and vacuous to watch a film with an realistically unattractive lead woman; again, the BBC would never make that error.

The scenery, costumes and settings are sublime, and the supporting cast is very strong, especially Bettany and Richardson, hence the three stars.

Queen, Alexandra
Queen, Alexandra
by Georgina Battiscombe
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 6 Sept. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Queen, Alexandra (Paperback)
This is a diligent, well-researched, unbiased and forensic analysis of Queen Alexandra.

The author's writing is fluid, stylish and natural.

It dates from the 1960s; I wish that a modern historian would update it. Battiscombe refers to files that "will be declassified in 1989" which is very teasing to the reader in 2010! I am confident that in the right hands, and with effective publicity, it would sell well.

Edward The Seventh [DVD] [1975]
Edward The Seventh [DVD] [1975]
Dvd ~ Timothy West
Price: £22.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 2 Sept. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
An absorbing, compelling, moving historical drama. It is very well cast, painstakingly accurate, and the costumes and sets are delightful.

One of the tragedies of the twentieth century is that King Edward VII, a skilled negotiator and respected uncle of the Kaiser, did not live long enough to avert the Great War. It occurred to me that if his parents had allowed him a fuller role when he was heir apparent, he may not have developed the dependance on cigarettes, cigars, booze and food that precipitated his earlyish death. We'll never know. Having watched this, I spent time thinking "what if..." about several aspects of history, especially in light of all the inter-relationships, politic intrigue and twists of fate. I suppose that's the mark of an outstanding production; you can't get it out of your head.

Waiting for Princess Margaret
Waiting for Princess Margaret
by Emma Tennant
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for Princess Margaret, 30 Aug. 2010
Original, interesting, fresh, witty, candid and articulate, this is a fascinating and humorous account of upper-class life in the 1950s and later.

It's a whizzy read, with short chapters and no padding or verbosity; every paragraph deserves its place. The author is so gifted, and her subjects so compelling, that she doesn't need to digress, twitter about irrelevancies or write floridly in order to bulk out the book.

I particularly enjoyed the observations about Oliver Hope, Aunt Anne and Robert Brown.

I read today that Lord Glenconner, who features in this book, died last week. A colourful personality has been lost, but he certainly lived life to its fullest.

Mrs Simpson: Secret Lives of the Duchess of Windsor
Mrs Simpson: Secret Lives of the Duchess of Windsor
by Charles Higham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average, 29 Aug. 2010
Despite interesting new revelations as a result of meticulous research, especially about the subject's life in China and her espionage work, this biography is flawed.

The style of writing is florid, with many sentences that have to be re-read carefully in order for them to make sense. Reading about one of the most fascinating women of the twentieth century should not be such hard work.

There was too much padding. There were several historical and political references, especially in the pre-War section, that were interesting enough, but that had nothing directly to do with Wallis. At times it felt like an examination of the events leading up to the conflict, or a biography of the Duke, rather than a book about the Duchess.

There were a few irritating factual errors, such as the assertion that Winifred Wagner was the composer's daughter.

It is clear that the author is biased towards the Establishment. His description of the Queen Mother as "that great lady", for example, was somewhat gushing. Biographers need to be objective.

I'm giving it three stars because it was clearly well-researched. Also, readers who are interested in the politics of the 1930s will very satisfied with their "bonus" information.

Magda Goebbels
Magda Goebbels
by Anja Klabunde
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 8 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Magda Goebbels (Hardcover)
This is a meticulously-researched, fluid biography of a fascinating and interesting person.

The author strives to explain how and why the teenage girlfriend of a Zionist (and stepdaughter of a Jew) ended up committing suicide and infanticide in the Fuehrerbunker three decades later, having married a capitalist in between. The protagonist was certainly a woman of contradiction; fortunately, her best friend and confidante Ello Quandt was able and willing to share memories and anecdotes, many of which feature in this book, along with other reliable accounts from people such as Magda's mother, and Albert Speer.

At times, it's clear from slightly clumsy translation that the book was originally written in German, but for me, it didn't detract.

I would have liked to have seen more photographs of Magda before she became unwell and prematurely aged, given that so much was made of her appearance and its importance in attracting men to her.

I wanted to know more about the fate of the Quandts, especially Harald, after the war. As it happens, there is plenty of info on Wiki, but an extra page in this book would have been a worthwhile addition, just to tie everything up.

Edward And Mrs Simpson [DVD]
Edward And Mrs Simpson [DVD]
Dvd ~ Edward Fox
Price: £8.25

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, factual drama, 7 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Edward And Mrs Simpson [DVD] (DVD)
Viewers looking for answers as to why the Prince of Wales fell in love with Mrs Simpson will be dissatisfied; this is not a love story.

Rather, it is a story of a constitutional crisis. There are numerous scenes wherein public servants (such as Stanley Baldwin) and senior Establishment figures (such as the Archbishop of Canterbury) discuss the ramifications of the relationship, which will bore viewers who are simply looking for the romance in the tale. It's a gritty, scrupulously-researched, serious drama, with very little levity and humour. This suited me because I was interested in the mechanics of the story, the facts, the influence of the men in the suits, what went on behind the scenes. Certainly, I'm not immune to a bit of scandal, so I'll probably read Charles Higham's biography in order to get the juicy gossip, but I am glad that this TV adaptation sticks to the historical facts. It has an air of real gravitas.

Cynthia Harris was wonderful as the brittle, manipulative Wallis (note how adept she is at adopting the wounded facial expression, and the soft, little-girl voice) and Edward Fox was very convincing indeed. The supporting cast was of a high quality also, and the sets/fashions were first-rate. The whole thing just had a "well-made" feel to it in general. British drama at its best.

The Pain and the Privilege: The Women in Lloyd George's Life
The Pain and the Privilege: The Women in Lloyd George's Life
by Ffion Hague
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 26 July 2010
This was a carefully researched, well-written, impartial work which incorporated fresh information about a number of its subjects, as well as an interview with Jennifer Longford, the woman who is believed by some to be Lloyd George's illegitimate child.

Although, naturally, there are references to the statesman's career and to his beliefs, it doesn't get bogged down in political detail, focusing instead on the his relationships with the key women in his life.

This is not a hagiography, so readers looking for an adoring tribute to the man who was the working class's great champion are going to be disappointed; for example, he misled his wife about his fidelity and he chased the young farm workers in his employ when he was well into his sixties. These seedier, unedifying elements are not glossed over. This is an unbiased, factual account and all the better for it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 2, 2010 5:53 PM BST

Lillie - The Complete Series [1978] [DVD]
Lillie - The Complete Series [1978] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Francesca Annis
Price: £14.75

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 26 July 2010
This is such a well-made drama series. The acting is faultless, from a highly respectable cast. The costumes, the dialogue and the settings are evocative of the period. It really is first-rate, and highly compelling.

Francesca Annis richly deserved her award for the title role, and those of you who have only seen Anton Rogers play affable middle-class professionals in series such as Fresh Fields will be pleasantly surprised by his intelligent portrayal of the unsympathetic Mr Langtry.

My only small criticism is that it felt rushed at the end. The final episode takes us from the death of the King in 1910 to Lillie's own demise in the mid-1920s, via the Great War, yet more turbulence in Lillie's colourful private life, her first "moving picture", and the impact of her fading beauty and diminishing fame. Too many storylines and threads were packed in; I felt that an additional episode was required.

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: The Official Biography
Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: The Official Biography
by William Shawcross
Edition: Hardcover

35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 5 Jun. 2010
This was very well-written, but offered no original insight into its subject. The author is clearly an Establishment figure (I laughed aloud at his sniffy, purse-lipped description of the new millennium party at the Millennium Dome) who had no desire to discuss the Queen Mother in any depth for fear of upsetting her relatives, who had cooperated with him in the writing of this hagiography.

For example, we learn that she took many months to consider Bertie's proposal, but there was no mention of the common belief that, encouraged by her social-climber of a mother, she was actually holding out for the bigger and more handsome prize; his older brother, the Prince of Wales. This was certainly Wallis Simpson's opinion, and it was shared by several 1920s/1930s Society figures - why was it not explored?

The deaths of Princesses Margaret and Diana merit a page or two apiece, yet the QM's safari, and her trip to Canada, are dealt with in excrutiating detail. I skim-read several sections of this book.

In short, if you want to know exactly what the QM was up to on 1st June 1936 (or any other date), this is the book for you. If you want an analysis of her motivations, character and beliefs, then look elsewhere.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 29, 2014 6:23 PM BST

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