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Black Diamonds: The Downfall of an Aristocratic Dynasty and the Fifty Years That Changed England Paperback – 30 Dec 2014

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (30 Dec. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143126849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143126843
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 2.9 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Praise for "Black Diamonds"
""Black Diamonds" has the great gift of bringing to life personal histories...wonderfully paced and wholly satisfying." - Kate Atkinson, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Life After Life "
"While this will be an easy sell to Downton Abbey fanatics, this fascinating history is highly recommended to anyone who loves family gossip and mystery." - "Library Journal"
"Gossipy bits...keep the reading lively. The real value of this work is the recounting of the ends of two classes, the lower and the very upper." - "Kirkus Reviews"
"Extraordinary, fascinating, harrowing. A truly compelling read" "The Sunday Telegraph
""Brilliant, gripping . . . one heck of a good read and will keep you bolt upright all night" "The Daily Telegraph
""A fascinating story . . . breaks the heart and haunts the memory" "Country Life
""Research worthy of an unsolved serial killing" "The Sunday Times"
"A compelling new history . . . fascinating insights into the dynasty that once ruled this Yorkshire roost" "The Daily Mail"
"A triumph of research" "The Evening Standard
""With all of the dramatic trappings and romantic details of a sweeping epic . . . vibrant and gripping" "The Observer
""Bailey offers an extraordinarily vivid series of descriptions of life at Wentworth" "Literary Review"
""Black Diamonds "admirably reflects both the nobility of the minors and the degradation of those who exploited them" "The Guardian"

Praise for "Black Diamonds"
""Black Diamonds" has the great gift of bringing to life personal histories...wonderfully paced and wholly satisfying." - Kate Atkinson, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Life After Life "
"While this will be an easy sell to Downton Abbey fanatics, this fascinating history is highly recommended to anyone who loves family gossip and mystery." - "Library Journal"
"Gossipy bits...keep the reading lively. The real value of this work is the recounting of the ends of two classes, the lower and the very upper." - "Kirkus Reviews"
"Extraordinary, fascinating, harrowing. A truly compelling read" "The Sunday Telegraph
""Brilliant, gripping . . . one heck of a good read and will keep you bolt upright all night" "The Daily Telegraph
""A fascinating story . . . breaks the heart and haunts the memory" "Country Life
""Research worthy of an unsolved serial killing" "The Sunday Times"
"A compelling new history . . . fascinating insights into the dynasty that once ruled this Yorkshire roost" "The Daily Mail"
"A triumph of research" "The Evening Standard
""With all of the dramatic trappings and romantic details of a sweeping epic . . . vibrant and gripping" "The Observer
""Bailey offers an extraordinarily vivid series of descriptions of life at Wentworth" "Literary Review"
""Black Diamonds "admirably reflects both the nobility of the minors and the degradation of those who exploited them" "The Guardian"

Praise for "Black Diamonds"
"While this will be an easy sell to Downton Abbey fanatics, this fascinating history is highly recommended to anyone who loves family gossip and mystery." - "Library Journal"
"Gossipy bits...keep the reading lively. The real value of this work is the recounting of the ends of two classes, the lower and the very upper." - "Kirkus Reviews"
"As she did in 2013's "The Secret Rooms," Bailey performed deep research to produce this lucid account. And she did so in spite of the secretive Fitzwilliams' propensity for destruction of their private papers. But despite that major handicap, she draws on remaining documents and numerous interviews with surviving Fitzwilliam relatives and their servants. The result is narrative history of high caliber, written by a woman who knows a good story -- and how to tell it in a manner accessible to the general reader." - "The Richmond Times Dispatch"
"The goingson at Wentworth are inevitably reminiscent of the fictional "Downton Abbey" now in its fifth season on Masterpiece Theatre, but they are at once grander, more sordid and generally harder-edged... A jolly good read." - "The Washington Times"
""Black Diamonds" has the great gift of bringing to life personal histories...wonderfully paced and wholly satisfying." - Kate Atkinson, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Life After Life "
"While this will be an easy sell to Downton Abbey fanatics, this fascinating history is highly recommended to anyone who loves family gossip and mystery." - "Library Journal"
"Gossipy bits...keep the reading lively. The real value of this work is the recounting of the ends of two classes, the lower and the very upper." - "Kirkus Reviews"
"Extraordinary, fascinating, harrowing. A truly compelling read" "The Sunday Telegraph
""Brilliant, gripping . . . one heck of a good read and will keep you bolt upright all night" "The Daily Telegraph
""Research worthy of an unsolved serial killing" "The Sunday Times"
"A compelling new history . . . fascinating insights into the dynasty that once ruled this Yorkshire roost" "The Daily Mail"
"A triumph of research" "The Evening Standard
""With all of the dramatic trappings and romantic details of a sweeping epic . . . vibrant and gripping" "The Observer
""Bailey offers an extraordinarily vivid series of descriptions of life at Wentworth" "Literary Review"
""Black Diamonds "admirably reflects both the nobility of the minors and the degradation of those who exploited them" "The Guardian"

Praise for "Black Diamonds"
While this will be an easy sell to Downton Abbey fanatics, this fascinating history is highly recommended to anyone who loves family gossip and mystery. "Library Journal"
Gossipy bits keep the reading lively. The real value of this work is the recounting of the ends of two classes, the lower and the very upper. "Kirkus Reviews"
As she did in 2013 s The Secret Rooms, Bailey performed deep research to produce this lucid account. And she did so in spite of the secretive Fitzwilliams propensity for destruction of their private papers. But despite that major handicap, she draws on remaining documents and numerous interviews with surviving Fitzwilliam relatives and their servants. The result is narrative history of high caliber, written by a woman who knows a good story and how to tell it in a manner accessible to the general reader. "The Richmond Times Dispatch"
The goingson at Wentworth are inevitably reminiscent of the fictional "Downton Abbey" now in its fifth season on Masterpiece Theatre, but they are at once grander, more sordid and generally harder-edged A jolly good read. "The Washington Times"
"Black Diamonds" has the great gift of bringing to life personal histories wonderfully paced and wholly satisfying. Kate Atkinson, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Life After Life "
While this will be an easy sell to Downton Abbey fanatics, this fascinating history is highly recommended to anyone who loves family gossip and mystery. "Library Journal"
Gossipy bits keep the reading lively. The real value of this work is the recounting of the ends of two classes, the lower and the very upper. "Kirkus Reviews"
"Extraordinary, fascinating, harrowing. A truly compelling read" "The Sunday Telegraph
""Brilliant, gripping . . . one heck of a good read and will keep you bolt upright all night" "The Daily Telegraph
""Research worthy of an unsolved serial killing" "The Sunday Times"
"A compelling new history . . . fascinating insights into the dynasty that once ruled this Yorkshire roost" "The Daily Mail"
"A triumph of research" "The Evening Standard
""With all of the dramatic trappings and romantic details of a sweeping epic . . . vibrant and gripping" "The Observer
""Bailey offers an extraordinarily vivid series of descriptions of life at Wentworth" "Literary Review"
""Black Diamonds "admirably reflects both the nobility of the minors and the degradation of those who exploited them" "The Guardian""

About the Author

Catherine Bailey read history at Oxford University and is an award-winning television producer and director, making a range of critically acclaimed documentary films inspired by her interest in twentieth century history. She is the author of the "New York Times" bestseller "The Secret Rooms "and "Black Diamonds." She lives in West London.


Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ever since the debut of the popular British TV series, Downtown Abbey, the public has been fascinated with the plight of many aristocratic families as they struggled with societal changes that came about in the aftermath of World War II. This non-fiction book delves deep into one such family and the branches of its family tree.

They say that truth is stranger than fiction. It is very true when it comes to the Fitzwilliam family. There are many storylines in this very true story, the kind of stuff that would make any fiction novel ripe with suspense. First there is the one of the heir who suffers with a mysterious illness (epilepsy) which the family tries to hide. There is a love story between Peter Fitzwilliam and Kathlen Kennedy of the famed American Kennedys that cause deep family rifts due to religious differences. Of course there is an illegitimate birth of a boy when one of the male family members impregnates a serving girl, and the slicing of the child's tongue to impede him from speaking. And did I mention the court battle over who is the true heir, and the doubts of his true identity due to the fact he was born in the wilds of Canada, or how one member was forced into an insane asylum?

Author Catherine Bailey has done a tremendous amount of research and presents it in great detail and imn a very interesting way in this fascinating book.There are numerous historical pictures that help visualize some of the people and occurrences in this factual story. Although it is not fiction, the book is written in a manner that reads easily and is very enjoyable. Definitely fascinating from cover to cover.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book especially as I know the area well having been brought up near here . The story of the family and the social history of the estate and area are closely woven and fascinating. Will read again ...very slowly and relish details I may have skimmed over the first time.
Do take time to read this book !
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Format: Paperback
A superb read!
I have read it three times so far and no doubt will pick it up again.Each read brings more knowledge out and now I have been on a tour of the house and surrounding gardens I am even more enchanted with this England from the past and,hopefully the house is going to be saved for the nation,if we all care enough.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fascinating explanation of the story behind this enormous house which has intrigued me for years since it came on the market for £3million in 1998. For students of history an insight to political change. The reality of Downton.
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