Laura Rittenhouse's Reviews > Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty

Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey
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's review
Dec 21, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: historical, non-fiction
Read on December 20, 2011

This book is primarily about an English Dynasty built on coal, but it is more about a period than about any one household. The family at the core of this book is one that is hard to get a good picture of because they have systematically burnt all their personal archives. Ms Bailey adds social and political events that were occurring during the period of the book (late 1800s to mid 1900s) to help flesh out the story of this dynasty.

I enjoyed the stories (truth can indeed be stranger than fiction) about the family itself but I struggled with the long stretches about the politics of socialism, unionism and the class system in Great Britain. Speeches and letters from Prime Ministers, Kings, union leaders, Lords and parliamentarians filled the middle section of the book. Valid background I suppose but a bit more than I felt I needed to get the picture.

The side stories about interesting characters and lives (including a very long segment on a member of the Kennedy family) that might have in some way connected to the core family weren't uninteresting, I just often wondered why I was reading about them. Which is my main complaint about this book - the thread of the story often was hard for me to follow and tangents were taken that didn't seem to add much to the overall picture being painted of an Earl, his holdings and his family.
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Christy Amen

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