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The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Politics at the Court of Henry VIII (Canto)
The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Politics at the Court of Henry VIII (Canto)
by Retha M. Warnicke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £23.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sexual Heresy and Hearsay, 3 Feb. 2017
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Professor Retha Warnicke states of her book: ‘This study of Anne is not a biography but an analysis of the crucial phases of her life and more specifically of her role in the politics of her day…’ It worth remembering that, as this is not a biography, and lacks the coherent narrative, that some do prefer, of a straightforward biographical analysis.

As such what emerges is a very singular portrait of allegiances and domestic politics that made up the Tudor establishment and aristocracy, which puts Warnicke’s book in an individual and original placement on the works on Anne Boleyn.

Warnicke’s postulations, that form much of the structure for this analysis, centre on a dismissal of the widely-believed reasons for Anne’s fall in 1536, that of political-factional unease, or Henry's desire for Jane Seymour/a third wife/a son. Instead, Warnicke asserts, Anne’s fall was centred on her perceived lack of fertility, particularly following her miscarriage in January 1536 (which is given much consideration), and Henry’s own dynastic fears. Interestingly, this is actually an opinion held by the majority of those non-partisans of Tudor history.

However, Warnicke builds much of this on the assumption Anne delivered a deformed foetus in 1536. This is a view first argued by a catholic recusant some years later. She tries very hard to argue contemporary ‘veiled’ evidence for this, primarily through the writings of the Imperial Ambassador, Chapyus.

Another argument is that the five men accused with Anne – Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, Sir William Brereton all of the gentry, the musician Mark Smeaton, and Anne’s own brother, George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford – might have been ‘libertines’, and thus committed buggery.

Now, Warnicke gives a fantastic insight into the Judaeo-Christian attitudes that made up this offence, and the context it was defined in: heterosexuality and homosexuality were not terms, or concepts, understood in the 16th century or before, and what she argues these men was is slightly different to being perceived as “gay”. In addition, I do think she raises a good argument that might cast some doubt on their political threats to Cromwell, by pointing ‘he might better have directed his attentions towards her kinsman, Sir Thomas Cheyney …’ who was more politically aligned with the Boleyn-faction.

One of the interesting points also made was how Anne’s rise in relation to the sanctity of marriage (rather than sympathy with Catherine of Aragon personally) might have been seen by other women, particularly those married.

The early part of the book is where Warnicke argues at her most successful. I agree 100 % with her on Anne's appearance; she gives a brilliant review of the deformities. She tackles the issue of Anne’s birthdate, which is unknown. Modern consensus is that she was born c. 1501, but she does build a case for the latter c. 1507 date. I believe Anne was born 1507 but I do not necessarily believe too much should be attached to the letter’s spelling as it here, admittedly, but it does indicate Anne was resident in the schoolroom which is a little unusual if she was born in 1501.

In addition, the birth order of the Boleyn siblings given her is unlikely.

This is the success and failing of this book. The success is that it raises valid questions, and seeks to argue them, the job of a historian. You are not going to get the same story born out in multiples treatments of this woman’s life. It also provides interesting insight into the family politics, and the atmosphere and beliefs that generated them (in a lot of detail, uncomfortably so at times I must say). However, the failing is that Retha Warnicke cannot argue her theories beyond the point of questions aimed to make you think, and look again, and I am always left with the view that she is blind to this factor.

But that is no bad thing to someone seriously interested in Anne’s life and her fall.

To this end, I would recommend it to someone with a serious interest, as I do think one learns more about the mind-set and culture, whilst also has one’s opinions challenged. which is important for their refinement. Warnicke goes to considerable lengths to really portray Anne, and just what would have generated the strange charges (the adultery, incest, and witchcraft) within the mentality of the time.

The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (WOMEN IN HISTORY)
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (WOMEN IN HISTORY)
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Six Women, 3 Feb. 2017
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‘My first aim in writing this book has therefore been to look at the women behind the stereotypes …’ so Antonia Fraser writes in the prologue to her 1992 judicious ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’. This aim is the clear navigator in this thorough study of the six women who were raised to fame through their marriages to the second king of the Tudor dynasty. Coupled with the desire to ‘illumine certain aspects of women’s history’ through the individual and combined stories of the lives of these six women, Fraser weaves together a story of both objective and successful merit.

I have to admit it is this volume of the Weir, Fraser, Starkey six-wives trinity (I feel Loades work is more individual), which I frequently recommend, and have heavily utilised, so much so that my original 1990s copy fell apart.

Fraser’s book stands somewhat alone in that it is thoroughly about the personality (you’ll learn about the interests, the fashions favoured, the pets, and foibles) and complex motivational and psychological facets (dynastic, religion, family wars) of women who were ‘Henry’s wives’. Whilst she never discounts or glosses over the social, religious, and political platform that made up the Henrician theatre these characters came to inhabit and therefore belong to, she continually relates it back to these highly individual characters to the point of avoiding the stereotypical (or ‘Strickland’ template as Starkey refers to it) or aggressive revision as Lindsey subjectively attempted. As such we get a new, fuller, glimpse of some of the more dismissed wives, such as Jane Seymour or Anna of Cleves.

Rather than deal with each story individually, Fraser’s prose flows from the early days of Catherine of Aragon right through to the death of Henry’s last surviving wife, Anna of Cleves. In this format, she does a good job showing the inheritance each woman faced as she took her part as ‘whatever he [Henry] lusts [wanted]’. This is particularly evocative in the chapters that deal with the ‘year of three queens’, that dizzying year of 1536, and the weight Anne Boleyn found herself bearing as her predecessor died right through to her own fall, and the transference of the queenly crown to Jane Seymour’s unenviable head.

Jane Seymour does emerge a more interesting character. Far from the ‘bound to obey and serve’ [her motto] stereotype that often so often perpetrates the analysis of her character, she does become more rounded – so whilst she lacks the tenacity and magnetism of her two predecessors respectively, she becomes a personality as stolid and intelligent as her portraits indicate: a mix of her two brothers, whose reputations Fraser notes have occasionally cast her as a ‘protestant’, a testimony to ‘historical patriarchy’ she wryly observes.

Had she survived longer, one is left to wonder if she may have emerged a matriarchal force, a religious reactionary who, whilst observing the social and thereby religious standards of the day, would nevertheless have been someone of considerable influence.

I thought the chapters on Katherine Parr were intriguing and I found myself noticing a picture of a slightly more rounded Margaret Beaufort, especially in her time as Lady Latimer.

‘It is seductive to regard the six wives of Henry VIII as feminine archetypes, women as tarot cards…’ Fraser ultimately concludes. Whilst she acknowledges that indeed they are the faces behind the well-worn masks of the divorced, beheaded, died rhyme, or tag lines of an ‘ugly sister’ or ‘the bad girl’, they are more than that. They are Henry’s wives, and this is ultimately the avenue through which, as 16th century women, they took their place in the world; but she shows, more than Karen Lindsey ever could, that they made their places their own, by embodying their roles individually in the volatile hotbed of the sixteenth century. As such as women and also part of Tudor history they have become exemplars of their time.

The Princes In The Tower
The Princes In The Tower
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good But Somewhat Date Entry, 3 Feb. 2017
The saddest, and most haunting story in the Tower’s 1000 year history, for me, is whatever happened to ‘the Princes in the Tower’.

As Alison Weir begins, this is a difficult and emotive topic. The death of children in history is not an uncommon thing, but as with the deaths of the titular Louis XVII and the children of the last Tsar of Russia, the fate of the Edward V and his brother, Richard duke of York, are uncomfortable stains on history's conscience. Not because they were royal, but because children were never exempt the cruelty of their times.

Alison Weir’s treatment on the disappearance of the two princes is not the, or her, best. As one of her earliest books, it is however far better than some, especially when you consider it’s a minefield topic, and one with few surviving sources.

However, Weir utilises all the evidence at her disposal back in the 1990s (and frankly, there is no more come to light, as of January 2013). She draws mostly from Croyland Chronicles, the Italian Dominic Macini, and St. Thomas More, with some impressive sifting, and discernment, in terms of their unreliability at points, and tries to corroborate where she can.

These sources do, often, corroborate each other – despite never having accessed each other when they were written. This is particularly important to note, as one of the criticisms levelled at this book and so-called anti-Ricardian literature, is the absence of judgement and/or bias and selectiveness on primary and secondary sources: Weir goes to some lengths, and establishes provenance, fairly early in the book for the first two – and with Sir. Thomas More exercises genuine caution, for supposed (and perhaps somewhat ironic) pro-Tudor sympathy. However it must be said, with St. Thomas More there are post-events that increase his own merit.

For this reason this is no less biased than Ricardian books, particularly compared to Paul Murray Kendall’s gushing and heavily biased Richard III.

Ultimately Weir’s book is unabashedly about the ‘whodunit’. Edward V and Richard duke of York did not live long enough to be biographically documented, save for their disappearance. So, we begin with the death of their father, Edward IV, and the accession of a child-king, to Richard III’s death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. What happened?

In Weir's book she makes a case for the thought of a child ruling, and a regency again (as with the start of Henry VI’s reign), must have been a daunting political dilemma. Weir looks at this evident potential instability as a precursor of the revoking of the Titulus Regulus, which declared the boy and his siblings illegitimate, and Richard duke of Gloucester, king Richard III.

She goes through the facts and what we know and, akin to my own thoughts (so maybe I'm biased), in the absence of further proof, it is hard to discount Richard as a factor in a complot of infanticide. He is more over the prime suspect in both motive and opportunity.

The final chapter centres on bones of two children that were found in the Tower during the reign of Charles II, and re-buried in Westminster Abbey. These bones were within the precincts, at the spot described by St. Thomas More, and not within the space we know it was common to bury some people in the Tower’s churchyard. Again, this is hard to explain away.

At a mere 200 or so pages, Weir makes a good and fairly even, as this topic is largely all biased in bias, account that should be fairly good read and certainly introduction. Had it not been a bit clunky in places, I’d have given it four stars.

Rating: 3.5/5
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Maybe Lenormand
Maybe Lenormand
by Ryan Edward
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.00

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Modern Lenormands, 25 Jun. 2016
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This review is from: Maybe Lenormand (Paperback)
The Maybe Lenormand comes in a lovely box. Each of the 52-cards measures 3.5 x 2.25 inches and is of good cardstock. The backs have an attractive ‘eye’ design, rendered in a somewhat twee aged-style. There is no extra Lord (28) or Lady (29) cards, but you do not need them!

I could wax lyrical about these cards. From the balloon rides on the Garden (expanding horizons, bonheur, entertainment) to the Heart that shows the blood pumping (emotions). Each carefully carries the essence of the card. The Queen of Clubs’ fan hides, just, her spectacles. While the Knave of Diamonds has his best poker face. You never saw that blade coming, did ya? You see the cards’ nuances afresh. What lurks beyond what an instructional manual tells you. These cards will make excellent teachers.

There is a 72-page instruction book entitled: ‘Maybe Lenormand Fortune Telling Guidebook.’ Each card has a page of information. All 52-cards card is given a ‘title’ of which Edward states: ‘Think of it as its core; all nuances and meanings are derived from this single word.’ I like this. The Ship is ‘distance,’ the Clouds ‘turbulence,’ and the Cross is ‘burden.’ There are brief examples of readings (a love GT, three- and five-card fan readings). Ryan's meanings are traditional, and draw 100% from the original instructions, Lenormand and wider cartomancy, and someone who knows how to read himself.

Ryan Edward did not stop at the traditional thirty-six cards. He created an additional sixteen cards. So the Maybe Lenormand numbers 52 cards, in total. The inspiration, for these cards, as it were, include the Tacheles (Tironian) Wahrsagekarten, and the Whitman Old Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards. Again care and attention to detail shine, here, too. For what do we find on the 5 of Diamonds – but the cook’s hearth and fire (Flame)?The U.S. Games Systems, Inc. edition contains the following ‘extra’ card: Pig, Lion, Hands, Rose, Bacchus, Rapiers, Cats, Medal, Sick Bed, Eye, Flame, Cupid, Lightning, Broken Mirror, Train, and the Safe. The Lion is stunning.

I recommend these cards. They are wonderful. Thank you Ryan!

Celtic Lenormand
Celtic Lenormand
by Chlo McCracken
Edition: Cards
Price: £19.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Traditional Lenormand Celtic Flavoured, 5 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: Celtic Lenormand (Cards)
orthington's art is luminous. I loved his Druid Animal and Plant oracles. The artwork, here, is not so refined, but instead has a rustic feel with lots of earth tones. Some of the illustrations do, however, evoke memories of his earlier decks. In the accompanying book, Chloë tells us that Worthington painted the cards with Celtic Brittany in mind. I am not familiar with what Celtic Brittany looked like, but Worthington certainly knows how to capture a living, rich and vibrant landscape.

Many of the cards have been designed to capture the traditional essence of its emblem of meaning. For example, the Bear card shows a bear with a fish in its mouth. Traditionally, the Bear is not a 'money' card. But it does, often, show how your money is working for you. How many fishes do you have in your jaws? Similarly, the Bear's eyes here are alive with envy. Another traditional meaning.

Each of the 45 cards measure approximately 3.5 x 2.4 inches. Card stock is high quality, and the colours are vibrant. As such, they could easily be a working deck and withstand heavy use.

As mentioned above, there are 45 cards in the Celtic Lenormand rather than the traditional 36. The nine extra cards are what I would call alternative duplicates. For example, you have both male and female Rider and Child cards. There is the obligatory extra Woman and Man cards. McCracken and Worthington also include two Snake (Fierce and Shedding) and Tree cards (Oak and Holly - two aspects of the God) while there are three Birds (Songbirds, Chickens, and Owls). McCracken's text explains the three birds are representative of the three aspects of the Goddess. When it comes to meanings for these cards, she interprets the Songbirds and Owls differently, but much in the style of Malkiel Rouven Dietrich. Obviously, the individual card reader can decide whether or not to use all these extra cards.

For each card, McCracken includes keywords under subheadings of nouns, descriptors and verbs. Then comes the playing card
followed by a description of the illustration and meaning. Chloë then includes additional text under the headings of spiritual readings, dark and light, spell use, timing, affirmation and deities. While the deck is Celtic-themed, the list of deities included within the text are eclectic.

Chloë McCracken's meanings are not departing from 'tradition.' The Coffin is still an ending, sickness, and the Lilies are sexuality, family, and happiness. One of my German friends said they are very similar to a German author. As I have not read that author (I do not speak German, and I had not even heard of them), I cannot comment.

Several spreads are included. These include linear spreads; inner cross; 3x3; an eight/twelve card path spread. Moving onwards there are also neopagan flavoured layouts such as a triple Goddess spread, and a Grand Tableau read based on the sabbats. Regretfully, no example readings are included.

As discussed above, I was worried about reviewing this deck because I expected to dislike it. However, in all honesty, there is little to dislike here. Ms. McCracken takes her point of departure from tradition and does not, really, veer off it. Where she does, it is offered solely as suggestion rather than rote or 'makes stuff up.' The artwork is high quality. McCracken's prose is friendly, supportive and inclusive but does not contain fluff. You may, however, benefit from investing in a second book should this be your first deck.

Jack the Ripper: CSI: Whitechapel
Jack the Ripper: CSI: Whitechapel
by Paul Begg
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 5 Aug. 2015
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“Here, life was lived – if living isn’t a misonmer for what was in truth no more than survival…” Begg and Bennett, Jack the Ripper CSI: Whitechapel

It seems wrong to describe a book on such a grim subject as beautiful, especially when there is some of the most horrifyingly brutal crime scene photographs contained within these pages. But, if truth be told, the 30 new CGI artworks of the East End of London, in 1888, are breathtakingly detailed and beautifully rendered. This is what truly sets apart Jack the Ripper CSI: Whitechapel from other books that simply detail the murders of several prostitutes that birthed a fear-provoking phenomenon.

The book is written by Paul Begg and John Bennett, both respected authorities on the Whitechapel murders with several articles to their name. Begg authored a recent documentary screened in the UK on Channel-5, which was one of the better looks (compared to many) at the ‘Jack the Ripper’ murders. Bennett is known for his tours, although I cannot comment on those as I haven’t attended one done by him.

CSI: Whitechapel attempts to re-create an accurate presentation of the East End London as it was during the infamous ‘Whitechapel Murders’. This is basically from the murder of Emma Smith to Mary Kelly, as well as later scares. In a sense, the book creates an eerie guided tour through the streets the miscreant murderer, dubbed Jack the Ripper, would have stalked. Along with the CGI illustrations, there are detailed bespoke maps, views of streets then and now, as well as cultural information and illustrations of a place, and time, where people actually wouldn’t venture, in tours, whereas they would the hot, dangerous, slums of British Imperial India.

The first chapter begins with a look at the East End distinctly as an individual place, and then by and large to London. The book has its main text, within a chapter, and then (often very detailed) side notes that discuss road layouts, the structural formation and rules of the lodging houses, while also explaining the emergence of a district through details on the matchstick girls’ strikes, et cetera.

From here the authors take a forensically solid, and historically factual, looks at the murders of Emma Smith; Martha Tabram; then the "canonical five" Mary Ann (Polly) Nicholas; Annie Chapam; Elizabeth Stride; Catherine Eddows; Mary Jane Kelly; to the latter scares, such as Alice McKenzie.

In addition, there are chapters at the reaction the murders caused, and the issues encountered by the police investigation, and then the overall search for Jack suspects. This is a succinct chapter, and includes most of the modern attempts to solve the mystery and suspects – serious and fanciful, including the ‘diary of’ James Maybrick, to Patricia Cornwell’s bizarre, self-funded ($6 million), investigation into the painter, Walter Sickert.

The text is factual and non-sensationalist. It’s not quite dissertation level, but there is a freshing and noted impartiality that many books on this subject lack. Anyone can read this, whatever your general level of expertise. As such, you get the facts, and observational analysis, which can sometimes require several books and copious note taking just to find out stringent facts about the yard Annie Chapman was found in, so all kudos to Begg and Bennett in giving this information clearly.

It is the illustrations that raise this book over others in a saturated genre. Begg and Bennett must have worked diligently with the artist, Jaakko Luukanen, to create such realistic and evocative scenes. The level of detail is quite remarkable, from cracks and moss in bricks, to the weather damaged posters littered on walls. Each murder is accompanied by a street map, which shows the site of the murder, and then places of interest (witness accounts, lodges of other victims) and so on. It’s an engrossing visual experience and one that will bring clarity, I think, to those interested.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t just recommend this book to people interested in the case; this book would interest people interested in police and social history, the East End, to general crime. On a side note, this book does contain the crime scene and morturay photographs (so it's not suitable to the very young).

The Arrow Chest
The Arrow Chest
by Robert Parry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Novel, 5 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: The Arrow Chest (Paperback)
Robert Parry’s “The Arrow Chest” was the best novel I read in 2012. I had enjoyed his previous book, “The Virgin and the Crab”, which tells a story of Elizabeth I, and the famous astrologer, John Dee. So I was expecting this book to be a good read, but it far exceeded my expectations; itwas truly riveting.

The Arrow Chest is the story of Amos Roseli, a painter belonging to the pre-Raphaelite movement, and his friend, and life long muse, Daphne, with whom Amos have long been in love, but she is now married to the powerful and wealthy industrialist Oliver Ramsey. But is all-well in the union? Weaved into this is Amos’s trusty and kind housekeeper, Beth, and Ramsey’s rat faced odious friend Gerald, and then the spectres of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII, and the poet, Thomas Wyatt, and also Alfred Lord Tennyson.

The story opens in 1876, where the middle class but struggling Amos, takes a commission from Dr. Murry, to produce a likeness of some bones unearthed during the restoration work of the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula within the precincts of the Tower of London. The bones are thought to be those of the executed queen, Anne Boleyn, and as he sketches, he listens to the story of one of the yeoman, about the queen’s rise and fall, and her presence within the fortress, which, it is said, can still be felt.

This sets off a chain of events, as Amos takes up his commission to paint Ramsey’s portrait, which is truly a poetic roller coaster. I found myself addicted to each chapter, until I had devoured the book in no time, impressed by both its originality, and how it takes a concept that could have so easily become twee and cheesy, and make it a haunting, satisfying story.

It’s full of tension, but never melodrama, and the characters are absorbing, and cleverly fleshed out. There’s also a lot of wit.

Parry is an excellent novelist, his prose is snappy and engaging, whilst also managing to evoke the gas light Victorian landscapes of London, the lush countryside of Kent, and the attractiveness of the Isle of White, with the finesse and sumptuousness that characterises the pre-Raphaelite movement, but with words. He seems to be able to write in ways that are evocative of his subject, so you are really engrossed in the story. He also cleverly uses the Victorian interest in spiritualism and divination, albeit only in small parts, so it’s not a silly plot device, but a humanising factor.

As a novel, it mixes elements of period fiction, neo-Victoriana, with splashes of ghost stories and historical fiction, but defies the clichés of the latter two genres that are sadly becoming to define them in modern publication. For this reason, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I cannot see anyone, if you like a good story, not enjoying. But I am biased, Mr. Parry is one of my favourite authors.

Eleanor of Castile: The Shadow Queen
Eleanor of Castile: The Shadow Queen
by Sara Cockerill
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clarity on a shadowy queen, 5 Aug. 2015
Sarah Cockerill spent ten-years researching the life of Eleanor of Castile, queen consort of Edward I (longshanks, Hammer of the Scots). Cockerill spent much time exercising gems from various chronicles, manuscripts and documents that were produced at the time and after but dealt with subjects other than Eleanor. Fortunately, Cockerill had a good-eye for detail and discernment and she has been able to produce a cohesive, readable and insightful biography on a woman that, as the title suggests, has been hidden in shadow.

Most people only know Eleanor through the crosses her husband erected to mark the stops her funeral cortege. But she was far more than that, as Cockerill presents.

Eleanor of Castile was the daughter of the St. Ferdinand III of Castile and Joan, Countess of Ponthieu. This is formidable parentage. She lived through the conquest of al-Andalus and accompanied her husband on crusade into the Holy Land. During the barons’ revolt Eleanor actively supported her husband’s interests, bringing soldiers from her territories. All of this comes to life in Cockerill's fresh prose.

Interestingly, she took serious her own territories of Ponthieu and began to exercise her own financial rights which culminated in the queens’ dower estates. How she did this is documented. These continued to pass down through her daughter-in-law and successors as queens. For this reason, taking such close interest in financial matters, she was disliked by her English subjects.

Cockerill also tackles how much political sway Eleanor had. I found this interesting; as it occurs to me she probably had more indirect influences than academia states. The final chapter covers the crosses Edward I erected and this is, itself, far more fascinating than often shown.

This is a biography I highly recommend. For those interested in women’s studies, medieval history and general biography you should not miss this.

The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards
The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards
by Caitlín Matthews
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.48

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complete compendium on the method of reading petit Lenormand, 5 Aug. 2015
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This is a manual that is exactly ‘what it says on the tin.’ It’s a “complete” compendium on the method of reading petit Lenormand without falling into how-to-read trap. The additional cartomantic wisdom is also invaluable. Thus I do not know any of Lenormand book out-there that is as full as this; nothing is left out. You could easily translate this book into a course, and, when fluency comes and experience grows, use it as a stimulating companion for insights and inspiration on your own individual progression. I can imagine anyone leafing through it and finding new ideas to explore.

It's not easy writing a book that is a teaching guide. Ms. Matthews is a seasoned teacher of multiple disciplines, and the readers of this book benefits immensely from her hands-on experience of guiding students. One place this is both strongly and happily felt is in the prose. Caitlín uses reader-friendly but not ‘dumbed down’ language to cover a full learning experience. Not patronising lingo and no metaphysical jargon.

The book is deliciously laid out. This is in one of the most attractively well-presented books that I have ever seen. Several decks are shown, including Ms. Matthews’ beautiful Enchanted Lenormand which was illustrated by Virginia Lee.

I have no qualms in recommending this book to complete beginners, those working with any of the previously published Lenormand books (in English, French and German), and earnestly recommend it those who have several years of study under their belt. To be honest, I think this is a jewel in the crown for Lenormand.

The Essential Lenormand: Your Guide to Precise & Practical Fortunetelling
The Essential Lenormand: Your Guide to Precise & Practical Fortunetelling
by Rana George
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.20

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Lenormand, 5 Aug. 2015
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The Lenormand “method” is a lean one. You’re working with something that calls a spade a spade. Directive, specific, and helpful. So when a book comes out introducing and explaining that same method, at an impressive 300 + pages, you can be pretty sure it is going to go one of two ways: either it’s by someone who knows the method inside out, or it’s going to a lame and pretentious tome of incongruities and drivel.

Fortunately, Rana George’s The Essential Lenormand is most definitely the former.

Rana’s book is divided into three parts: Part 1 – Beginning with Lenormand; Part 2 – A Closer Look at the Thirty-Six Cards, and, Part 3 – Reading Techniques with Spreads.

“Beginning with Lenormand” sets the basics down. Rana goes through the importance of consistency and the need for direct questioning, as well as touching on the minor variations that exist within the Lenormand method which have woefully been dubbed ‘schools’ in the past and built up into a life of their own. I smiled, happily, to see Rana encourage her readers to “predict, predict, predict” – such a vital exercise for anyone to learn how this deck talks and to listen and learn from both mistakes and successes.

Within the “A Closer Look at the Thirty-Six Cards” section, Rana works through each of the petit-Lenormand deck’s symbols at some impressive length. For each symbol you learn its main meaning along with some illustrations done under headers such as “time” and “future” and for describing someone.

At the end of this, Rana concludes with an anecdotal reading, further emphasising how the card can be read, as well as giving reference to the traditional and what is the real Lenormand method, distance. Due to Rana’s progression and personal use distance is not covered in-depth but it’s wonderful to see it here.

The meanings given here are traditional within the ‘Philippe Lenormand’ sheet’s tradition. I could recognise and understand where Rana was coming from, at all times, even if I did not always agree i.e. here the Whips has ‘a sexual energy’ and the Fox is connected to employment. Minor differences which occur at all times, from reader to reader. Nevertheless these are always explained and subsidised with Rana’s own experience and background so that someone who works differently is not isolated or ‘corrected’. Thus I think this is perfectly understandable and should be expected of any author.

Finally, within Rana’s “Reading Techniques with Spreads” we are guided through several spreads, including a Sun-Sign based astrology reading, and the Grand Tableau which gives you a method of working through all 36-cards and a useful “Combination Drills” section. For a neophyte Rana does provide enough here to get you going and more, and enough information for someone struggling to come back, re-gather, and try-again.

Only Caitlín Matthews has managed to provide the masterly tone and non-intimating clarity Rana George achieves here. The meanings given are traditional, rooted within those same meanings used for over one-hundred years, but also influenced by Rana’s own unique experience. With the latter, this is delivered by way of context, derived from experience arising out of tradition, rather than absolutism or ‘revolutionising’ as other authors have fallen foul of whereby anything other than their “take” is left out and wrong.

One cannot review this book and not mention Rana’s own story which is touched by Civil War, harrowing circumstances, and finally a new beginning. What this underpins is not only a spirit full of hope but the practical uses and unique advantage of this oracle in day to day life. Whilst you will be horrified, and then inspired, you will be left in no doubt why people cherish this deck so much.

A wonderful book and one that I recommend.

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