Very detailed and long but interesting look at the life of Edward VII. He deeply valued his privacy and had his correspondence burned so it is a challVery detailed and long but interesting look at the life of Edward VII. He deeply valued his privacy and had his correspondence burned so it is a challenge to piece together his thoughts and feelings. The biographer does a good job with this but still it drags. Much of the book is gossipy and is spent deciphering diary codes and if mistresses were platonic or not. Yawn. All in all if you are interested in this period a good read....more
Somewhat slow and dry start. This is a very detailed and thoroughly researched book. I'm obsessed with this period in British history and how it functSomewhat slow and dry start. This is a very detailed and thoroughly researched book. I'm obsessed with this period in British history and how it functioned. Fascinating and very complete...more
This was a light easy read. I'm fascinated by this time period. It is amazing the disconnect between Nobility and those who served them. I was surprisThis was a light easy read. I'm fascinated by this time period. It is amazing the disconnect between Nobility and those who served them. I was surprised to find the gender based differences. Service was disproportionately female and young. Young women starting in service had to provide their own uniforms. So many had to work for 2 to 4 years prior to service just to earn the cost of their starting dresses. In addition they were paid considerably less and had horrible duties and long hours. The working conditions weren't better for the young men as far as hours and harrowing duties. However they were paid more and their upper positions came with much status and prestige. In addition their quite well made and very expensive livery plus powdered wigs were provided and tailored by the employers. I'm a huge Downton Abbey fan and I'm afraid this had made the storyline regarding the staff relationships with The Family seem preposterous. That's unfortunate and almost seems a silencing of the servants true stories which do deserve to be told....more
Um wow this book has everything, detailed accounts of servants and those they served. Fascinating details on servants daily life, career track, as welUm wow this book has everything, detailed accounts of servants and those they served. Fascinating details on servants daily life, career track, as well as life both inside of service and outside of service. This equally covers the class system and distinctions both within society at large as well as society below stairs and behind green baize doors. Fascinating how the wars (WWI and WWII) change service. Service barely stabilizes, a very much smaller and less presumptuous affair than in Edwardian heyday. WW2 just kills whatever is left of that style of living, very much to the benefit of the rest of the country. The vast poverty that existed across the country, while the Aristocracy lived so unbelievably better was horrifying. To think poverty lived next door to extreme abundance like that. It's also fascinating how the war as well as fair taxation for the Aristocracy took the class down so quickly. The nostalgia for the wealthy of that time period puzzles me. I love Downton Abbey but the treatment of those below stairs is vastly and unrealistically idealized. The Aristocracy controlled massive amounts of wealth and largely ignored the suffering of the poor. Only taking advantage of them in service. Harrowing system....more
Finished book. Wow wonderful rich detail about Isabel, the life and times she mastered. Isabel is a fascinating character. On the one hand she was a vFinished book. Wow wonderful rich detail about Isabel, the life and times she mastered. Isabel is a fascinating character. On the one hand she was a very powerful ruler in a turbulent kingdom and constantly at war during her reign. Yet in a time where women controlled little she controlled her Kingdom and her husband somewhat worked for her. She made real decisions for her Kingdom and managed to keep her equally yoked husband. This is indeed a delicate and intricate dance. At the same time she used her religion as a vicious weapon. She was virulently Catholic and unfortunately it was fatal for many of her subjects. In addition she sends the expedition that claims populated land masses as her own. That ultimately leads to a pattern of thinking that results in the horrors of colonialism. Yet the author spends much time excusing Isabel's choices and behaviors while demonizing the Moors of Grenada. She refers to Castile and Aragon by name but refers to the Moors of Grenada as the generic 'Muslims'. So Castile is at war with 'The Muslims' vs Castile is at war with Grenada or the Emirate or whatever. It's offensive and dismissive and calls into question the authenticity of the other facts given. The author shares in the Afterward that her theory is that Isabel protects Europe from the Muslims and Islam expanding thru Europe. The theory seems Islamophobic and explains much of why this book rubs me the wrong way. The author's bias is so blatant it makes me uncomfortable gleaning any true facts from this biography. It's a shame as this is very readable and interesting.
*****Still reading I'm about 30% done I couldn't update for some reason???? So Isabella has married Ferdinand, become Queen of Castile, won the war of succession against Portugal and is setting about restoring order. I am enjoying this book but the authors clear bias is difficult to ignore. I also am deeply impressed by Isabella's ability to maintain absolute control in Castile. It's impressive how she is able to keep Ferdinand both from power and still married to her. It's really too bad she turns into such a rampant racist and human rights violator. She had such promise. ***I am not a European and so I will not be reviewing this book from that standpoint. If that causes you to clutch your pearls in shock I advise you not to continue to read my review of this book. Queen Isabella is a horrible human rights violator, the first in history on such a global scale. I have little that is nice to say about her. Or the author of this biased biography....more