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Blotty "Blotty" (England)

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Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household
Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household
by Kate Hubbard
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Startling for the mundane world it depicts, 16 Mar. 2013
I considered myself something of an expert on Victoria and Victorian England and now, having read this book, realise that I had missed a key aspect of that period. To wit the character of the principal lady herself and the way she lived.
Now seen for the first time through the eyes of her household, she appears as a spectacularly low-brow woman, with lower-middle-class pretensions and their concomitant sentimental obsessions. And yet ... the transition from the syphilis and gin that marked Georgian England to the prissy Victorian era is clearly a rational progression. When George III lost the Americas it was the beginning of the end. Somehow, during the reign of Victoria, the rot was halted for at least 100 years and the greatest empire history has ever seen grew and grew.
At its heart lay an array of well-connected folk who served the Queen not unlike the workers clustering around the centre of a hive. Frustrated, bored, often deeply unhappy they were unable to tear themselves away from the flame. They loved being at the centre of things as much as they loved the Queen, despite her many human failings.
The perspective Kat Hubbard brings to the subject illuminates it with a subtle glow. It has taught me to be humble in my assertions about the depth and breadth of what I believe that I know and it has reminded me that historians should look at the individuals concerned as well as the great events of their time for they are inextricably intertwined.
This is an important book that I found difficult to put down.

The Spy Who Loved: The secrets and lives of Christine Granville, Britain's first female special agent of WWII
The Spy Who Loved: The secrets and lives of Christine Granville, Britain's first female special agent of WWII
by Clare Mulley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A difficult heroine, 14 Feb. 2013
The Second World War threw up countless people who thrived in the stress and the unusual topsy-turvey situation of global conflict - they seem to have been born for those difficult circumstances. The subject of this book is clearly one of those people.
Clare Mulley's book, which I came across because of my Mother who knew Krystyna Skarbek (Christine Granville as she became) is a beautifully crafted pen portrait of this extraordinary lady's life and times.
Clearly a difficult woman, Christine shone in the odd world of war and she displayed huge courage along with reckless abandon and a lack of overt fear in the most terrifying situations. The George Medal and Croix de Guerre demand acts of great bravery and she was awarded both.
Her passions and her flaws were more than matched by her practical grit and her strengths. I don't think she would have been easy to spend too much time with but she generated love and sustained others with a life force that must have been extraordinary to experience let alone witness. That captivating nature could unhinge people and, in the end, it led to her untimely death at the hands of a broken man.
One the one hand this is an engaging and interesting book that tells us the story of an engaging and interesting woman. On the other it is a scholarly and well researched biography that perfectly illuminates previously unknown, to me in any case, aspects of the war.
I think this is a fascinating, elegantly written and empathetic book. I recommend it to anyone interested in real people, real celebrity and a world where truth really is stranger than fiction.

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