Five Things I Love About the U.K.

Not too long ago I was sort of roaming around on the interweb and came across this video ~

~ from YouTube personalities Joel & Lia, discussing what they like about America. It was pretty friendly and funny, so I decided to look around a bit. Perusing their site, I saw that they seem travel to America a lot, therefore put out, amongst other topics, a fair amount of comparisons between the U.S. and U.K. (I confess I loved their language ones, which reminded me a bit of my fondness for using literally translated phrases from other languages into English to kid around with people.)

It also got me thinking in the opposite direction to what they discussed, and the things I like about the U.K., and it was pretty easy to come up with a few. While I admit my list is not exactly of the same flavor as Joel & Lia’s, which tends toward elements one might happen upon as they are actually traveling through American streets and society, I also point out that this is a deliberate move on my part, as there are many American readers who have not in the past or don’t have the chance very soon (or may never) to make a journey to Britain. I wanted to talk about things that everyone interested would have a better opportunity to look into or learn about, even if they have to do it from a distance. Of course, that could lead to something more up-close, which naturally would be fantastic. So let’s have at it! In no particular order ~

Page from the will of Alfred the Great (Image courtesy Wikimedia)

5. Loads of historical sites ~ Of course, we do too, and many (most) other countries’ sites go back further in time, as do Britain’s. Perhaps that my own family’s heritage comes from this little island is what draws me, but also there’s an angle I don’t hear many people discuss, and that is that we have a shared history. The events that brought America into being are also, of course, part of British history, and before these, our history traces back to Britain. So when Americans sift through history before, say, the Tudors, they’re also exploring their own country’s journey through time. And what a journey it was! I confess to being jealous of the ability to look at items, “in the flesh,” so to speak, that date back to Alfred the Great or Harold Godwinson or Richard III and those who lived in these times. The links between so many of these people, and even commoners, replete with twists and turns, is so fascinating to study and fills me with awe to know that someone who lived, monarch or ordinary person, 500 or 1,000 years ago wrote this document or purchased that item. I continually think about their ordinary days and what it might be like to have experienced life at this time. I’ve often heard it said that we are the descendants of survivors—our ancestors survived plague and rebellions, wars and massacres (and much more), and I often wish I could talk to the people who contributed to what and who I am today.  

4. They have great music ~ Again, we do too, but I don’t think anyone can deny that the British Invasion of the 1960s, influenced by our own homegrown blues, was simply fantastic. The Beatles aren’t going away (my eighteen-year-old son thinks I’m crazy to rate them after Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd) and Traffic’s music reaches deep into your soul, as music should. As a teenager I was addicted to David Bowie, and there were a number of others who followed these larger acts that I later learned about and who fed my hunger for ideas (on various levels), music and identity.

3. Bubble and Squeak ~ If love of music is as universal as I believe it to be, then so is conversation around and about food, and one thing I’ve found I have in common with many people is that we all agree leftovers are simply fantabulous. Sure, it’s often the case that the spices and all-around flavors that group together overnight are more intense, and thus supremely delicious, the next day. However, I also believe it to be something in our psyche that gets touched, which is why even breakfast for dinner, or midnight eggs and toast at a diner, can be a memorable feast. It’s not fancy, but the company kept around the table, especially if any of the participants joined together to prepare the food, seals the deal. So is it with Bubble and Squeak, by definition left over, and by company something to remember for always. It doesn’t hurt that I simply adore repurposing food, which so often reminds me of my Scottish granny (who had her own version of Bubble and Squeak) in her tiny kitchen.

2. East Anglia and Dartmoor ~ I’ve never been to either of these places, but for some reason unexplained, I’ve developed an obsession with the first and own a growing interest in the second. I joke about having lived in East Anglia in a past life and that perhaps this explains my attachment to it. As for Dartmoor, well that surely traces back to having seen it discussed in a documentary about Edwardian times and leading me to contemplate how places now of growing interest to us were wild and frightening to our ancestors, places to be avoided. In truth, I’d probably be afraid if I lost my way in the middle of a moor, though also crossing my mind would be how we often regard my own land: a dangerous beauty that can reward one greatly with its bounties or bring devastation if its wildness is not respected.

A typical Dartmoor tor, this one located near Haytor (Image courtesy Wikimedia)

Honorable Mention: Rain ~ We get rain, but it’s “spit,” as I’ve heard people from Outside call it. We rarely get thunder and lightning, and so whenever I watch a movie set in, say, London, with its famous rain pouring down, I long to cuddle with a book by a window and periodically look up to watch it streaking against the glass as it pours down, with the occasional thunder and lightning, the sort that people hide from under their beds.  

1. Richard III ~ I enjoy history, but King Richard III is perhaps the most meaningful to have crossed paths with. Having embarked upon a study of him following “a quick read” (that has lasted now since just over ten years), I was intrigued to discover that we have him to thank, at least in part, for our perspective on justice, specifically pertaining to his legal reforms, including strengthening of the bail system and prohibiting the confiscation of property before conviction. This is linked to our belief in “innocent until proven guilty” held in great esteem in America today. He also strengthened use of the English language, especially and including in the printing of statutes. His removal of trade restrictions on books, paired with the aforementioned support of English, promoted the spread of knowledge, an enlightened and progressive attitude that I daresay even some today seem to work against.

Given that there is lots more to love about this island

nation – and in many more far-flung areas – I’ve already decided that

we will be re-visiting this topic, so stay tuned!

My Tottering TBR: About to Topple?

Well, that title might just reflect the state of mind I have been experiencing since some time: wanting so very much to read but often being unable to actually do it. For various reasons, this circumstance has the fine ability to create a fair amount of anxiety, putting my pile as well as myself into uncertain territory. However, there has been a nice turnaround lately and I am steadily working on keeping that leaning tower of pages all in one pile. Each time I close a book, I feel a similar sort of sensation as when I swipe my highlighter along the lines of a to-do list, perhaps a kick of adrenaline, especially if the work ended with a magnificent question or connection that brings the thrill of recognition, causing so many loose ends to come together.

Considering that this time in 2020 I was still working on my first book of the year, I’d say there has been some improvement, hey?

So what am I reading or recently read that has been so satisfying? Well, for the recently reads, you can click here to check out my material over at Goodreads. Not everyone loves this site, and at least one author has told me she avoids it like the plague, though I never really asked why. But, so far at least, it suits me fairly well, though for now I tend to use it only to record and have not been doing much exchanging or interacting on any of its threads. I did used to be in a few groups, but deleted them for my own lack of responding to the millions of notifications I received. Perhaps I ought to look into groups soon and see if anything catches my fancy.

In any case, moving forward I have some other cool reads going on right now, and am thrilled about this because I can feel an opening up also occurring, which sort of makes me imagine the top of my head on hinges and the information and stories being poured into my brain. Perhaps I’d better get to the books?

The Black Prince by Michael Jones –  I know, I know, I keep talking about it. But imagine if you had food in your cupboard you couldn’t get to. You reach and reach but just as your fingertips seem so close, the gap widens! Yes, dear readers, I’m comparing books to food – they nourish me and are as necessary as the air I breathe. And The Black Prince, which I have wanted to read so badly, has been hanging around my house since *checks Abe orders page* September 2019.

As of now I’m still in the first chapter, but I’ve been reading about Edward of Woodstock’s grandparents, Edward II and his queen, Isabella, inhabitants of an era I’m not overly familiar with, though I do remember something about a she-wolf in a documentary I watched ages ago. Yes, I’m fairly certain this is the same woman, though the documentary really portrays her in a terrible light, if memory serves, whereas here in Jones’s telling, her position is quite a bit more understandable. (Though Despenser’s end really was rather grisly.) Still, there is that thrill of recognition and excitement about finally, finally, finally getting to read about someone I’ve wanted to for so long it’s a bit ridiculous!

To the Land of Long Lost Friends by Alexander McCall Smith – This was a “for the heck of it” present from my teen son, who purchased it for me, oh maybe last summer. Not long after that he presented me with another AMS tale – I’m a big fan, by the way – and at Christmas yet another, a modern-day re-telling of Jane Austen’s Emma. I don’t recall what that middle book was called, and when you’ve lost track of what AMS books you own, you know you’re not keeping up with this very prolific novelist.

I’ve actually started this book – twice! – but have had to put it aside, also twice, both times starting at page 1. I’ll have to do that again this time, even if I do remember what was happening where I left off, because Mma Ramotswe isn’t just read, she is savored, and merely “picking up where one left off” just isn’t done. She deserves her proper attention, and besides, she might kindly relate to any of us the pitfalls of trying to carry on, say, a conversation, over the course of two days but months apart. You might remember everything but giving your fellow conversant a recap is just the polite thing to do. And anyway, you enjoy their company, so why not?

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer – Not a  place I’d really want to live, truth be told, though if an Elizabethan was smart, he would say the same about our era. Still, I’ve attempted to make this trip before, though this book as well I’ve had to put down. And so here I am, my first real reading, in perhaps my whole life, on this period that I willingly got on board for. It’s not that I don’t like the Elizabethans, I just somehow never really got around to them beyond associations with Shakespeare.

Because I’m in love with the ordinary – Mortimer writes for people like me – this book is amongst a set of works I truly cherish, alongside such other titles as this author’s Middle Ages version of time travel and Ruth Goodman’s How to be a Victorian. I have never either been a great fan of Victoria’s era – though I hasten to reassure that my “I’m not a fan” comment is not used here in the manner I often employ it, which is to mean I do not, in fact, like something – but I still enjoy knowing what life was like for ordinary men and women and how they went about their day-to-day concerns, what food was available, what was interesting to them. I especially love it if there is something I can replicate (or at least attempt), such as food or a craft. I wonder if I will recognize any of these people?

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Flinn – When writer and Le Cordon Bleu graduate Flinn happens upon a woman in the grocery store and advises her on food choices and meal preparation, it marks the beginning of a huge change in her life. Inspired to gather novices together with the aim of revealing to them that cooking is not as frightening as they believed, she begins to learn about herself as well. What these lessons are I cannot precisely say, because I have only reached the portion of Flinn’s story in which she has taught her volunteers the real deal of kitchen knives (you really need only very few of them).

As far as I can tell, I haven’t exactly been yearning for this particular book, but that’s probably because it fell off my radar – more dangerous territory for both book and myself. I did spy it one day a few months back and pull it to my kitchen shelf so I would at least get visual reminders, but didn’t pick it up again until two days ago. As I was reading it this evening I happened to flip through and found within some later pages a Costco receipt dated October 4, 2012. Yes, you read that correctly. At first I thought perhaps I’d bought this secondhand and that must be the previous owner’s receipt. However, I admitted to knowing I’d purchased the book new, and the merchandise on the brief receipt are all items I would buy: Palmolive, strawberries, even this book itself. I must have gotten further I than I realized, because the last thing I remember, a recipe involving alfredo sauce, is quite a bit out from where I now am. Why did I stop reading? Well, I distinctly recall trying that recipe and it not working out.

Let me tell you that this shouts out that I – despite that I enjoy cooking and am not super afraid of making mistakes in the kitchen – fit at least part of the profile of the very people Flinn is attempting to reach out to when she speaks of cooking, good cooking, being very much within our reach. This is one of those books that moves you to say, “This book was written for me.”

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A Few of My Favorite Things

Lately for some reason I’ve encountered a lot of “What is your favorite ____?” questions. Possibly it is related to lockdown restlessness and trying to find our happy places. Or people could be trying to get to know each other more as individuals in this troubling time.

Whatever the case, it has raised some favorites questions for me, some absurdly easy to answer, others not so much. Some perhaps surprised me a bit because I don’t often think about them, or maybe never would have thought I might choose those answers.

Something nice about moving beyond the typical “favorite color” type questions (though these are still fun) is that we can learn more about ourselves and each other and transition into some really wonderful conversations.

Can you answer any of these questions? Which other questions would you ask?

Favorite lunchbox snack – Something crunchy – maybe crackers or celery with peanut butter.

The Miller’s Daughter by Anne Anderson, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Fairy tale – As a child I tended to return repeatedly to “Rapunzel,” “Rumplestiltskin” and “Hansl and Gretl.”

Game to play outside – Anything involving snow.

Childhood memory – How to choose!? A funny one is that I once told a friend, “I have another sister, you know.” She didn’t believe me, and challenged my claim. “Oh yeah? What’s her name?” She said it with that tone that usually accompanies what today we call the “neck action.” I answered, without hesitation, “Snow White.”

On the poignant side: I once had a dangerously high fever; probably I was two or three years old. My parents were instructed to  put me into a tub filled with ice water. I can still see the look on my father’s face as he carried me toward the tub: it was pained. I didn’t recognize it then, but now I see in it the fear, for me, how this would feel (not pleasant) and how he really didn’t want to do it. I have absolutely no memory of the experience, so I either blocked it out or he never went through with it.

Nursery rhyme – This one is recited while running circles with your fingertip in a child’s open palm: “Roond aboot, roond aboot, goes a wee moose, up a baht, up a baht, tae its wee hoose! (Round about, round about goes a wee mouse, up a bit up a bit to its wee house!) Toward the end you run your fingers, tickly, up the child’s arm and then tickle under their underarm. My mother used to do this.

Bird – Not a big fan of birds, but I do love ravens.

Continue reading “A Few of My Favorite Things”

Browsing Books: I Really Miss the Library Edition

“Our library looks like a castle,” Turtle would say when he was small. Above, the main branch as it appeared in his childhood. The impractical stairs, and the complete and open patio at the top, are now completely gone following renovation. William Seward, however, still maintains his watch over the main entry.

Like many places across the country, our public library system is functioning at limited capacity. When this whole mess got rolling, it did actually close for around two months, and I learned about it roughly 30 minutes before they locked the doors. At that time we ran to the library and went on a bit of a mad dash around, stocking up on books, music and movies we wouldn’t otherwise have gotten that day. We had entered in somewhat of a daze, but our departure was marked with adrenaline, supplied by librarians, and our own disbelief, reminding us that we wouldn’t be able to come back the next day: “Stock up!”

Some downplay various subjects, but records of them are a testament to the sense of history within past peoples; that we now know as much as we do on even those topics we take most for granted is nothing short of spectacular.

Now, eight months later, the libraries are still closed, though we can actually check materials out and return them again, thanks to the online system and computerized drop boxes. It’s not as magical as ambling lazily along the stacks, or even through them with deliberation, and for the most part you have to know what you want. Patrons can talk to librarians over the phone, but of course some human contact is lost, because chit chat isn’t really a thing with this setup. There’s no replacing the walk around a certain portion of wall to be able to swing by the desk and say, “Hey, just wanted to say thanks for helping me find that article” or, “So funny, we talked about calligraphy ink last time and look what I just found on the new arrivals shelf!”

I really miss our library.

When my son was about two, I was checking out books one day as he toddled back and forth behind me, along a wall and walkway area. The clerk casually looked over and said, “Wow, he has gotten so big!”

“Oh, you’ve, uh, seen this baby before?” I stammered.

What a great time we had with this book! Growling, rolling, counting, hiding and baking were just a few fun activities we played at under its influence.

“Well, yeah, you only bring him in every week since he was born!” I was really taken aback at that point, because I had no idea library staff might even notice such a thing. My attention, hyper focused on a really terrible time we were emerging from, noticed only the necessary. But it made me really happy to know there could be this sort of back and forth, beyond the casual greetings, authentic as they were.

Over the years, the library and its staff (at least the ones we came into contact with) became an integral part of my little son’s life; he was a reader from the get go and they treated him as if he was the most important patron there. He loved the reading contests, talked to staff about his interests, and one of the supervisors gifted him an Ernest Shackleton t-shirt she’d found in a thrift store. (We still have it.) And the twice-yearly library book sales, which my son used to replicate during his at-home play. Need I say more?

As a teen I was obsessed with Lewis Carroll and intrigued to learn so much about the family and world of the Alice who inspired his famous tale. I’ve ordered it from ILL a couple of times in a fit of nostalgia, and it still makes for fascinating reading.

I was delighted to experience an expansion in our excursions when Turtle wanted to start going to the satellite branches, two in particular. They are much smaller, but it was really fabulous to discover that their collections were just as quality as the main branch’s. Browsing through the stacks led me to such books as Butter: A Rich History or copies of Alexander McCall Smith’s latest book I hadn’t even known was published.

So, I can’t go into the library at the moment, and this may be why I seem to have so many books off my shelves recently. I have always had such stacks as my really-want-to-read-these-next pile, or the at-risk-of-forgetting-if-I-put-them-back-on-the-shelf mound. Just last night I finally sat on the sofa, my gaze moving over the multiple small heaps of books and decided they really do need to be arranged in a way less cluttered, more organized. Becoming overwhelmed would never do.

A number of themes present themselves in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and Turtle and I discussed many of them over the years. He often re-enacted scenes by himself or with friends, as children do as a means to better understand their world.

Naturally I browsed as I went along. Perhaps it’s just my grownup version of playing library, separating as I did, into various piles by subject, library or mine, read now or later, take to my room or keep here. It was not unlike the manner in which I stroll through the shelves at the library, and I stopped, memories such as the above and others flooding my mind. The Runaway Pancake, for instance, came with a CD of the author reading to an audience of children. Turtle was enamored of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and, even as a very small boy, used to recite, “Move, and I strike. Don’t move, and I strike” in a voice he made as menacing as he could, to match that of the wicked she-snake, Nagaina.

I first read A Noble Treason just a couple of years out of high school and promised myself I’d read it annually so I never forgot what the Geschwister Scholl et al. sacrificed, not just for German society, but indeed all. They died in order to preserve humanity’s right to the rich, dazzling beauty of ordinary life.

These moments with my boy, now a teenager, seem like just yesterday, but the day the library shut down—eight months have passed and it seems like so long ago. Neither timeline, really, how it should be. Children grow way too fast and libraries, once one of the pleasantries that filled themselves into many spots within those years, have simply stopped. In a way we still haven’t emerged from the library daze we were cocooned in as we walked out the door that day last March, and saying the words out loud—“We are approaching a year since we’ve been in the library”—only contributes to our continuing disbelief. Sure, administrators try to transition at least some programs into online versions of what they once were, but the truth is that libraries are living, breathing places because they are occupied by people who bring the home of stories—our stories, those of our ancestors and all the good and evil they faced, what they created and all that resulted from their massive curiosity—they bring this home of the world’s stories to further life, knowing that they already beckoned us to their circles, knowing we are programmed, in our very DNA, to want to hear the tales they long to tell us. Stories are living, breathing things, they are in our bones and we nourish each other.

Long may it be.

It’s been awhile, but you can check out the last edition
our my Browsing Books series here

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Stepping Back into Saxon England: Who Was the Lord of the Mercians?

I am so pleased to have been asked to host a stop within the Stepping Back into Saxon England tour from authors Annie Whitehead and Helen Hollick. Anglo-Saxon England is a fascinating place to explore, and there is never a shortage of amazing figures, events – even understandings –  to discover and wonder about.

Today Annie Whitehead focuses on Æthelred, Lord of the Mercians, a mysterious individual who seemingly comes from nowhere to occupy a powerful position and secure his place in history.

Who Was the Lord of the Mercians?
by Annie Whitehead

My first novel, To Be A Queen, tells the story of Æthelflæd, the Lady of the Mercians, whose life was extraordinary. Only one other woman in Anglo-Saxon times ruled a kingdom, and she was ousted after a year at best. So to have led a country in times of war for nearly twenty years, Æthelflæd must have been an incredible woman.

Statue of Æthelflæd, erected in 1913 to commemorate her fortification of Tamworth. She is shown with her nephew, Æthelstan.

Her husband, though, was equally interesting. And the fascinating thing is that although he was a crucial ally for Alfred the Great, no one knows for sure where he came from or how he came to be in a position of such great power. Between them this couple fired my imagination.

So who was Æthelred, Lord of the Mercians? Certainly he was someone very different from the man portrayed in The Last Kingdom. For a start, he wasn’t a king. So where did he come from, and how did he get to be ruler of a kingdom?

Tracking down pre-Conquest people isn’t easy, and we rely heavily on the charter witness lists. If an authentic record exists of a certain land grant, then we can look at the witness lists to see who was there at that particular meeting. And since the names go in strict pecking order, it’s possible to see folks – men, usually – rising up through the ranks over the years until they reach the top slot. So it should be easy enough to check Æthelred of Mercia’s progress up to the point where he became Lord of all Mercia, right? Actually, no. He simply cannot be identified on any charters.

It’s thought that he might have been associated with the Hwicce, a people whose territory sat mainly in modern-day Gloucestershire. We first hear about them from an entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in the record for 628, when the king of Mercia fought the West Saxons and it’s assumed that at this point the area around Cirencester, that of the Hwicce, came under Mercian control. Whether it had hitherto been independent, or whether it just swapped one overlord for another, is hard to tell. But the Hwicce had their own kings and we know that the royal line continued into the 780s. 

It’s not certain where the name itself came from, although there might be links to the landscape around the valley between the Cotswold and Malvern Hills, and a ninth-century charter refers to woodland in the west of the region called Wychwood Forest (Huiccedwudu). They were described by one chronicler as ‘the people who live beyond the River Severn towards the west.’

So we know where they were, but can we ascertain who they were? Bede tells us that they had their own bishopric, so even if they were subordinate to, or dependent on the support of, the Mercians, they clearly had their own territory, their own diocese and their own royal house.  

We know the names of several of their kings and one, Osric, ruled in the 670s but, while in a charter relating to him he is called rex, he is acting with the consent of the king of Mercia, so already there is a sign of subjugation. Osric is associated with the founding of Gloucester Cathedral, although in those days the foundation would have been an abbey. In the eighth century, a leader of the Hwicce attested a charter of King Æthelbald of Mercia only as a subregulus. Although Æthelbald referred to the ‘not ignoble royal stock of the Hwiccian people’ it is clear that by his reign (716–757) the rulers of the Hwicce were no longer kings, but subkings of Mercia. 

Their status further diminished to that of nobleman, and in the very beginning of the ninth century we hear of an ealdorman of the Hwicce, Æthelmund, who was killed attacking the people of Wiltshire at Kempsford in 802. Æthelmund was described by King Ecgfrith of Mercia merely as a faithful princeps.

The name did not die out though. 

A charter of King Edgar’s dated 969 demonstrates an awareness of the distinction between Mercia proper and the territory of the Hwicce, and between 994 and 998 King Æthelred the ‘Unready’ had only five ealdormen witnessing his charters, and one was Leofwine of the Hwicce, although it’s likely that given the small number of ealdormen at this time, Leofwine was responsible for the whole of Mercia.

Let us go back, though, to the incident in 802 when Æthelmund ‘rode from the province of the Hwiccians across the border at Kempsford.’ He was met by an ealdorman of Wiltshire and a ‘great battle’ ensued. Why were two ealdormen fighting? Well, it coincided with the death of the king of Wessex, and may offer a glimpse of the kind of turmoil which could occur around a succession, with loyal armed men ready to defend the status quo, or perhaps even to take advantage of the uncertainty.

In Wessex, ealdormen were appointed by the king, and not necessarily given titles over their local area. In Mercia, which grew up out of a federation of various tribes such as the Hwicce, the political set up was different and it seems that the ealdormen were the chiefs, or members of the erstwhile royal families of these smaller subkingdoms. Looking over the Mercian regnal lists, we can see that sons hardly ever succeeded fathers, and if they did, they often didn’t survive for very long.

And by the height of the Viking raids, when Wessex badly needed allies, Mercia had pretty much run out of kings. Alfred’s sister was married to a Mercian king, but he had fled when the Vikings overran part of Mercia and his rival and successor had a short reign. So, seemingly out of nowhere, a man named Æthelred, with no previous record of government and no royal links, is suddenly the man to go to for an alliance and, oh, he’s deemed worthy of marrying Alfred’s firstborn daughter, too. 

Historian Barbara Yorke has suggested that he was, in fact, descended from that ealdorman who rode out at Kempsford in 802. If so, it’s likely that he was therefore one of those ‘tribal’ leaders who formed part of the witan as ealdormen. It doesn’t explain his absence from the records up to this point though, nor how he came to be leader of a kingdom. But he must have been a man of exceptional qualities to have been elected. He’s mentioned by name in the records as part of the campaign against the Vikings, fighting alongside Alfred and Alfred’s son Edward. 

Æthelred is a figure not soon forgotten.

For these reasons, I suspect that he was a lot older than his wife. He had proven himself militarily and must have had a track record for the Mercians to have elected him as leader. Some think he was Alfred’s puppet, but I think not.

In my novel, I gave him boundless energy, with a mantra of ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’, but also moments of self-doubt. He was a clever strategist, giving (if we believe the Irish annals) his wife clear and detailed instructions about how to oust the Vikings from Chester, and happy to work in concert with her at a time when women, though they perhaps had more freedoms than their later medieval counterparts, still were not considered strong enough to rule. 

Deerhurst is a tiny place in the heart of the Hwicce homelands, and there is a church, St Mary’s, which retains much of its Anglo-Saxon architecture. It’s still in use, so has seen well over a thousand years of continuous worship. I set a couple of scenes there, knowing that it would have been a spiritual centre for Æthelred and when I visited, I got a real sense of the past, sitting quietly on my own knowing that there was every likelihood that my characters had actually been in the same building. If Æthelred really was associated with the Hwicce then he’d have rightly been fond of this lovely church. Whoever he was, wherever he came from, I think he was a canny military leader, and a good husband. A perfect partner for the Lady of the Mercians.

About Annie Whitehead

Annie has written three novels set in Anglo-Saxon England. To Be A Queen tells the story of Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians. Alvar the Kingmaker is set in the turbulent tenth century where deaths of kings and civil war dictated politics, while Cometh the Hour tells the story of Penda, the pagan king of Mercia. All have received IndieBRAG Gold Medallions and Chill with a Book awards. To Be A Queen was longlisted for HNS Indie Book of the Year and was an IAN Finalist. Alvar the Kingmaker was Chill Books Book of the Month while Cometh the Hour was a Discovering Diamonds Book of the Month

As well as being involved in 1066 Turned Upside Down, Annie has also had two nonfiction books published. Mercia: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom (Amberley Books) will be published in paperback edition on October 15th, 2020, while her most recent release, Women of Power in Anglo-Saxon England (Pen & Sword Books) is available in hardback and e-book.

Annie was the inaugural winner of the Dorothy Dunnett/HWA Short Story Competition 2017.

Connect with Annie at ~
Amazon
Casting Light Upon the Shadow
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Mercia: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom

“Many people know about Wessex, the ‘Last Kingdom’ of the Anglo-Saxons to fall to the Northmen, but another kingdom, Mercia, once enjoyed supremacy over not only Wessex, but all of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. At its zenith Mercia controlled what is now Birmingham and London ‒ and the political, commercial paramountcy of the two today finds echoes in the past. Those interested in the period will surely have heard of Penda, Offa, and Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians ‒ but remarkably there is no single book that tells their story in its entirety, the story of the great kingdom of the midlands…”  …but there is now!
Available in paperback from 15th October or pre-order now!

Follow the tour:
joint venture with 
Annie Whitehead
and
Helen Hollick

1st October: Annie Whitehead – hosted by Helen Hollick
Lady Godiva – Who Was She, and Did She Really?
Let Us Talk Of Many Things

2nd October: Helen Hollick – hosted by Nicola Cornick
Why Do We Do It?
Word Wenches

3rd October: Annie Whitehead – hosted by Lisl Zlitni
Who Was the Lord of the Mercians?
Before the Second Sleep

4th October: Helen Hollick – hosted by Tony Riches
Undoing The Facts For The Benefit Of Fiction?
The Writing Desk

5th October: Annie Whitehead – hosted by Pam Lecky
Murder in Saxon England
Pam Lecky

6th October: Helen Hollick – hosted by Derek Birks
King Arthur? From Roman Britain To Saxon England
Dodging Arrows

7th October: Annie Whitehead – hosted by Samantha Wilcoxson
Æthelflæd’s Daughter 
Samantha Wilcoxson

8th October: Helen Hollick – hosted by Cryssa Bazos
An Anthology Of Authors
Cryssa Bazos

9th October: Annie Whitehead – hosted by Elizabeth St John 
Anglo-Saxon Family Connections
Elizabeth St. John

10th October: Helen Hollick – hosted by Judith Arnopp
Alditha: Wife. Widow. Mother.
Judith Arnopp

11th October: Annie Whitehead – hosted by Brook Allen
Roman Remains – Did the Saxons Use Them?
Brook’s Scroll

12th October: Helen Hollick – hosted by Amy Maroney
Emma Of Normandy, Queen Of Anglo-Saxon England – Twice
Amy Maroney

13th October: Annie Whitehead – hosted by Simon Turney
Penda: Fictional and Historical ‘Hero’ 
Books & More

14th October: Helen Hollick – hosted by Annie Whitehead
The Battle Begins…
Reads Writes Reviews

15th October: A joint post hosted by both of us
Annie – Casting Light Upon The Shadow
and 
Helen – Let Us Talk Of Many Things

We hope you will enjoy
Stepping Back Into Saxon England’ with us!

All images courtesy Annie Whitehead

Book Review Rollout (with Updates)

Additional note 2021-1-9: Circumstances have warranted a change to how authors set up book reviews. Please see Book Review Guidelines tab for additional information. 

Be sure to check out the companion post to this Book Review Rollout here.

And so here we are – 2020. It’s a long way off from 2012, when I first started this blog, and I’ve come into contact with some really fabulous people. Most of the time this site has been going I’ve done book reviews, and at one point I stopped, picking up again with other ideas and topics I wanted to talk about or delve into. To be honest, I still want to do this, but it’s kind of hard to stay away from the stories. This, of course, has happened before, and I periodically opened up to accept a few review requests. When I started contemplating things again this time, I decided to shake it up a bit. Some aspects will stay the same, though, because the goal is to make it easier for all involved.

One of my current reads

To start with: As a child and teen I was enamored of The Lion the Witch and the WardrobeThe Crystal Cave and anything by Lewis Carroll. These days I still read the aforementioned and am open to reviewing memoir, ghost stories, historical fiction, some/various non-fiction, young adult, time travel and lots of indie books within these genres. My favorite historical eras are pre- and post-1066, the Wars of the Roses (in particular, the second half of the fifteenth century), American Revolution and WWII. I have somewhat new sort-of interest in the American Civil War and possibly events related to Edward, the Black Prince (another subject I’m currently exploring).

So here’s how I’m opening up the works ~

Once you read through you should have a better idea if  pursuing a review from Before the Second Sleep it a suitable fit for you.  ~ While I used to ask that authors shoot me an email to see if I’ll do a review, I decided to just do away with that. Since I have a lot more on my plate than I used to (at least it feels that way—it could be that some things were just replaced with others), I’ve given myself permission to respond with very brief emails or not at all. If you receive a brief email from me, please do not take it personally; it is sheer necessity. The “not at all” category used to be something like authors sending me e-copies of their books without asking if I would review them. 

To be honest, these authors were on to something, even though I’d always said, “Don’t email me your books; I’ll delete them.” But they had a good idea because lots of stories looked quite intriguing and I thought, “Actually, this could be pretty efficient.” So I sort of took this idea like a piece of clay, rolled it around a bit and created my own shape to it. Out of this and past experiences, I developed these guidelines:

 

  • If you are interested in a review, just go ahead and send me your book. Please note the following caveats:

    • I only accept hard copies. Extended electronic reading gives me a headache and I’m done with it, so paperback or hardback are fine. I will provide my address below.

    • I do not guarantee I will review your book once I read it. Unless I become inundated, I will, however, start every book I receive. If I finish (which I will try to do within 90 days; be aware it may sometimes go over) and decide to write a review, I will let you know, so please be sure to provide your email address.  
  • I work really hard on my reviews and aim to make them quality pieces that provide honesty while honoring the work. Because these entries really are joint efforts—you write the book and I do a review—I don’t want either party to get any short stick. Please remember that reviewers spent their (unpaid) time to give authors free advertising, so a little promotion of those very reviews, a win-win situation, does not go unnoticed. No one is expected to wed themselves forever to the blog; I just hope to avoid one-sidedness. For my part, I’ll be posting my reviews to Amazon, Goodreads and linking on Twitter and Facebook (maybe one or two more), these last two possibly more than once. If you have book signings (once we live in normal again), launches, etc., feel free to let me know so I can contribute what I can to these types of events. 
  • Generally I don’t see the point in taking the time to write a bad review, one in which there is really nothing redeemable about the book. However, if I make note within the review of something I didn’t love, please remember this is just my opinion. Others may very well disagree with me, and that’s all right. Broadcasting why I’m wrong or that “the reviewer probably doesn’t know this but…” is in bad taste and makes an author look bad. Neither one of us wants that. 
  • Authors/publicists are responsible for providing any direct links, actual images, author bio, promotional dates, etc. they would like to include in the review blog entry. Images not your own are required to have permission to use; without this I will not include them. 
  • I work full time and am currently engaged with a few of my own projects. I am carving out very specific time to spend on reading books for the blog, but I’m just one person with a family who takes priority. Please see next two bullets for more on this and related.
  • I am very aware authors are proud of their work, sometimes anxious and are trying to promote and market their books. I truly admire people with stories who get them out there, and I’ll do what I can for some authors as well, including and especially indie. However, there are appropriate ways in which to conduct promotion, and haranguing book bloggers/reviewers is not part of that. Here is a great post about this topic. In my opinion it’s one of the better discussions out there because it also covers reviewer responsibility, which I do my level best to live up to. 
  • If you wish to send an email to let me know your book is on its way, that’s a great idea – this enables me to easily contact you for info when moving forward (plus I prefer to be able to let you know when the book arrives). Email is the method I use for communicating re: book reviews and provides greater assurance I will not miss any messaging; my email is provided below. Please do not contact me on social media re: doing book reviews (the exception is to ask for a link to this page). 
  • If you would like to do a giveaway, guest post, etc., by all means please let me know via email; I’d love to host it. Authors outside the United States can, at least in my experience, order from Amazon.com (as opposed to Amazon UK, etc.) to send books Stateside, rather than having them ship overseas. 
  • Please check back here periodically, as there may be updates or additions to the policies.  

Be sure to have a peek at my sidebar every so often as it changes to reflect my rotation of reads. I also keep a widget full of blogs I follow – which needs a thorough dusting, to be honest – so check it out when you swing by to see if I’ve cleaned up or added more. For new posts, go ahead and click that button! (Upper right on main page or tab at bottom right.) You’ll get a notification—just one, so you won’t be inundated—to let you know when there’s something new for you to check out.

You can contact me at scully_dc AT yahoo DOT com

Please be aware that sending me your book 
indicates acknowledgement of this policies page 

Be sure to check out the companion post to this Book Review Rollout here.

Glad to have you here and I hope each one of you is finding something marvelous in this crazy, mixed-up world.

Updated 2021-1-9

Click image to see 2016’s “Month of Mary Stewart”

Music Review: Richard III

Please note the time sensitive Christmas ordering special below, as well as info about band appearance and narrative notes.

Richard III by Ian Churchward and The Legendary Ten Seconds

 Track Titles

  1. Sheriff Hutton
  2. Richard Liveth Yet
  3. Written At Rising
  4. Act III, Scene IV
  5. The Year of Three Kings
  6. Hollow Crown
  7. Remember My Name
  8. Lord Lovell’s Lullaby
  9. Requiem
  10. Royal Title
  11. Ambion Hill

Additional narrative notes are also provided (see below).

r3-3rd-album-front_med_hrHaving read the Legendary Ten Seconds characterized as a folk band, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I received their third CD to review, though I was intrigued with the concept album format whereby all the songs map out historical events. More precisely, they detail a specific series of events pertaining to a key figure: Richard III. This release, aptly titled Richard III, highlights instrumental periods in the monarch’s life, through melodic tunes reminiscent of medieval music itself. Listeners will recognize certain moments in which the band pays homage to their medieval forebears, with particular use of mandola notes, bells, organs and other instruments. However, there is balance with a modern sensibility, so while the music is identifiable as medieval-inspired folk, this is neither the monophonically-textured sound we tend to associate with the Middle Ages, nor stereotypical folk often heard mainly at summer forest fairs. What it does present is much of the heritage—our own—that we are taught about as children and will recognize in themes of truth and loyalty, pastoral poetry and the timeless desire to be remembered. It is all presented here so engagingly that even those who might tend toward reluctance will find themselves drawn in, for the music as well as the history it recounts.

“Sheriff Hutton,” the album’s first song, opens with an immediate sense of storytelling, as if the music itself is performing the gesticulations of one about to move forward into a verbal narrative. It is the perfect song to open the collection owing to this musical smoothing out of one’s apparel as well as the lyrics themselves, which tell of discovery as the speaker describes what he experiences upon visiting three sites: Sheriff Hutton, where as Duke of Gloucester Richard stayed, given its proximity to the north; Middleham Castle, the setting of his formative years and where his beloved son, Edward, was born and tragically dies too young; and Bosworth Field, site of the battle where Richard loses his life and the Plantagenet dynasty comes to an end. The song itself encapsulates the story of Richard’s later life as the singer takes us forward in time to “one fateful day,” having already experienced the sense of loneliness and brokenness that permeate the sites, and mindful of Richard’s own experiences when he himself stayed there.

fotheringhaycastle
Fotheringhay Castle (click image)

There is a newness to this start of the CD, yet also a wistfulness, perhaps undetectable to some unfamiliar with the life and times of Richard III. However, the musical arrangement is such that it acts also like a sort of foreshadowing, for once familiarized, these listeners will be able to detect the melancholy, recognizing it the way readers realize they do clues in a story, leading them to the often typical train of thought that commences with, “What if…?” This is paired with opening to the aftereffects of a tragedy as the album then takes listeners back in time to “see” the events that lead to this moment.

With the singer, or storyteller, we embark on a journey from a time when the infant Richard is noted in the “Clare Roll,” a poem documenting the armorial history of the prominent Clare family, the earls of whom Richard, Duke of York is descended; the second song’s title is drawn from his son’s mention within.

The youngest son of the Duke of York

Born in the castle of Fotheringhay

October 1452

Was the sun shining on that autumn day

Richard liveth yet

Richard liveth yet

Richard liveth yet

Born at the castle on the rise of the River Nene

Noting Shakespearean word order within one line, the song also foreshadows the playwright’s role in Richard’s posthumous reputation, and another depicts a scene from Shakespeare’s Richard III, with several vocalists taking up the roles of different characters as they discuss Edward V’s coronation date. While it may seem a curious choice to base a Ricardian song upon, it sets the stage for Richard’s coming rule while also highlighting a central Shakespearean reconstruction re: the alleged withered arm. While we now know that Richard III suffered from scoliosis, the useless arm is a fabrication.

Male and female vocalists appear on the various tracks and they are used to great effect—to play different roles, for example, as mentioned above; in duets, sometimes partner, others as counterpoint; and perhaps to change up the sound “appearance,” though this is carefully considered as their voices and particular and varying uses of them match the individual pieces of narrative so well one might be forgiven for believing each track was written specifically for those particular voices.

Richard III (click image)
Richard III (click image)

In linear fashion the CD progresses through eras in Richard’s life, including leadership roles in which he must manage shortage and adversity, through to the “year of three kings”—1483—which sees the death of Edward IV, Richard’s brother and monarch, to be succeeded by his son, Edward V. As Edward IV’s heir is too young to assume full duties, Richard is named protector and becomes king, followed by the disappearance and presumed deaths of Edward and his younger brother, also called Richard. Marking a turning point in the album as well as Richard’s life, events in “The Hollow Crown” are depicted from Richard’s point of view, and he discloses that in addition to the grief he feels at his own son’s passing, he knows full well what people are saying about his reign, and the darkness that threatens to overtake him:

This hollow crown upon my head

They say Queen Anne will soon be dead

The sky is dark though it is day

With my book of hours I do pray

Following is a transitional tune, one that could be told from Richard’s perspective, that of a soldier, or even both, in parts. Sung with alternating solos and Dylanesque duets (think “Mozambique” or the even smoother “One More Cup of Coffee”), it is a brilliant approach to take given there, of course, would be many expressing the sentiments within, but also to magnify the reality that Richard himself may have struggled with his decision to go to war. There are plenty of pros and cons, and the loneliness of the tune is mindful of what the monarch may feel in these moments, lost as Edward and, now, Queen Anne are to him. Still, he retains his book of hours and it could be he finds solace in prayer, remaining in low spirits but not remotely near to, as some have suggested, a death wish. The tune ends with a rather rapid fadeout, akin to a musical ellipses, mirroring acknowledgment of the terrible realities of war and remembrance.

From this point on the lyrics reflect thoughts and emotions of others, for the king is dead and can no longer speak. The singer channels these figures, such as Margaret, mourning her brother, killed so viciously, and references antiquarian Sir George Buck’s The History of King Richard III. In the end a ghostly apparition beckons to our storyteller, who acknowledges that some may or may not believe all he has laid out. Important to note, however, is that despite many circumstantial attempts to destroy Richard’s reputation and legacy, evidence exists to prove previous claims false or perverted—evidence available in the Titulus Regius, for example, discovered by Sir George, evidence that, like Richard himself, long lay buried and perhaps some still does—that despite all this, “the truth, it has survived.”

This is a wonderfully evocative account of the life of Richard III, one that will draw listeners again and again.

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The Legendary Ten Seconds was originally a solo music project of Ian Churchward who has played guitar in various bands after starting to play the guitar in 1979. Ian’s first band was called Chapter 29 and after this band split up in 1986 he started a new indie pop band called The Morrisons later that year. This band released a flexi disc which was played on the John Peel show on BBC radio one in 1987. From the late 1990’s until about 2007 Ian also played in a ceilidh band called Storm Force Ten which then became a new band called Phoenix.

Richard III is the third album from the Legendary Ten Seconds. For more information on previous music, click here or images below.

Tant le désirée
Tant le désirée

Loyaulte Me Lie
Loyaulte Me Lie

 

 

 

 

 

You can learn more about Ian Churchward and The Legendary Ten Seconds and their music at FacebookCD Baby, a blog dedicated to The Richard 3rd Projects and Twitter. For Richard III-related links, see Lord Z (and tab above).

Special Notes:  An additional album, The Legendary Ten Songs Of Sir Ian Of Churchward may be purchased as a download from CD Baby OR it can be gotten for FREE before Christmas when purchasing any other album from Lord Z (this link ONLY). Be sure to get it from Lord Z! Additionally, for as long as supplies last, album purchase includes a FREE Ricardian Legendary Ten Seconds beer mat (see and click image below).

Free beer mat with any album purchase from Lord Z (click image)
Free beer mat with any album purchase from Lord Z (click image)

Concert Information:

The Legendary Ten Seconds will be appearing at Stony Stratford in February!!

poster for stratford gig

Narrative Notes:

On Tant le desiree the narratives are written and read by author Sandra Heath Wilson. They are fictional and read from the point of view of Richard III’s mother, Cecily Neville.

On  Richard III  the narratives are historical and factual. These Richard III narratives are written, read and recorded by Matthew Lewis and provide information about Richard III.

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The reviewer was provided with a copy of Richard III in order to provide an honest review.

Book Review: The World of Richard III

The World of Richard III by Kristie Dean

world of richard iiiWith the recent re-internment and increased interest in Richard III, it is not surprising there would be a flurry of new publications related to the last Plantagenet king. While we all read at least a smattering of the Wars of the Roses (WoR), for many these studies belonged to bygone days, but the attention generated by these new books has brought the monarch to a wider audience. With The World of Richard III author Kristie Dean takes a new approach by bringing us to Richard. As closely as it is possible to do, she escorts us to and around the world he inhabited via the places he had visited, seeing or imagining what he observed and how he may have perceived it.

St. Mary's Church, Barnard Castle~A carving of Richard's emblem, the boar
St. Mary’s Church, Barnard Castle~A carving of Richard’s emblem, the boar

The work is a combination of travel information and history focused on places lived in or visited by Richard Plantagenet, from birth to his time as Gloucester, through his two years of kingship and finally, his death. Organized in seven major parts that span these courses of Richard’s life and in a loose chronological order, subsections then turn their attention to specific places associated with him on various occasions. As the author takes us from point to point there is some overlap, given that Richard visited certain locations several times, and Dean handles this seamlessly and without repetition. An extensive collection of beautiful photographs enables readers to follow along visually as they move forward.

Gatehouse at Middleham Castle~This is the entrance Richard would have used to reach the inner courtyard
Gatehouse at Middleham Castle~This is the entrance Richard would have used to reach the inner courtyard

The book is set up in a very practical manner, and the convenience will appeal to both armchair traveler as well as visitors to these amazing monuments. The table of contents lists the locations—including geographical—within each section in the event one wanted to access information about a specific site. While readers come in close contact throughout the book with the medieval practice of “recycling” names (first as well as surnames), Dean also provides a York family tree that sensibly and easily maps out the “who’s who,” helping to alleviate common confusions, for instance between Richard III (Gloucester) and his father, also called Richard (York). Years also are provided for clarification of events, such as the Duke of York and Salsbury’s flight to Ireland and Calais (1459), and their deaths in 1460, the latter of which is necessarily presented first.

A “how to” also briefly introduces the setup and points out helpful details such as contact information (phone as well as website), opening times, prices and postcode, which struck me not only as practical but also a blessing in disguise because many travelers—myself included—might get bogged down in their movements. In such instances it has happened that it doesn’t occur (to me and others) to check ahead about such additional details as cash machine availability, non-regular closures or waiting periods. Dean covers these and other crucial details and tips to contribute to a fascinating and rewarding journey.

The World of Richard III is presented in language that is a combination between necessarily practical and beautifully rhythmic, and Dean’s strength is being able to fuse the two in passages that complement each other. Ordinary words have the power to transfix, and the sense of peering through a veil is never far off. “But pause for a moment,” she advises at one point. “You are standing where he would have stood, with only the thin veil of time between you. It is a heady feeling.”

Church of St. Mary the Virgin and All Saints, Fotheringhay
Church of St. Mary the Virgin and All Saints, Fotheringhay

Dean speaks of Fotheringhay, Richard’s birthplace, in conjunction with how the “River Nene winds around the mound and disappears in the distance”; of the spires of St. Mary the Virgin and All Saints and a “sleepy river,” adding that “[d]uring Richard’s time, the river would have been humming with activity. On Richard and Edward’s visit in 1469 the view would have been one of constant commotion as people scurried about to meet the king.” As readers we are privileged to catch this glimpse of Richard re-visiting his roots and taking care of and pride in who he is.

Nottingham Castle~This was one of Richard's most visited castles, and where he and Anne learned the dreadful news of their son Edward's death.
Nottingham Castle~This was one of Richard’s most visited castles, and where he and Anne learned the dreadful news of their son Edward’s death.

The ideal of knowing who you are based on where you are is deeply embedded in the travelogue and Dean awards sense of place its rightful due by “illuminat[ing] his character through the places and events that shaped him into the man he became.” Indeed, many events prior to Richard contribute to place and shared history, and to this end the author also unpacks some of these events to give readers a greater sense of what it may have meant to Richard himself. She often invites readers to imagine Richard at a certain place, or to see something lovely or meaningful through his eyes, and it is not difficult to contemplate Richard as an individual rather than a noble, duke, monarch or distant historical figure. Speaking of the Painted Chamber, once the scene of a momentous occasion, Dean elaborates how

…the sun would cast a rosy glow through the four windows in the chamber, illuminating the decorative paintings that graced its interior. Even the arches over the windows were covered with paintings, mostly heraldic images. It is easy to imagine Richard pausing from his duties as king and admiring these magnificent works of art with their deep hues of vermillion, ochre, and verdigris.

Penrith Castle, Cumbria~Dean writes of the "sandstone glowing in the sun" and tells readers that "English Heritage credits him with adding large windows." It is easy to imagine how breathtaking the scenery would have been, from inside and out.
Penrith Castle, Cumbria~Dean writes of the “sandstone glowing in the sun” and tells readers
that “English Heritage credits him with adding large windows.” It is easy to
imagine how breathtaking the scenery would have been, from inside and out.

The author does not, however, romanticize Richard as someone he was not, and to that end she retains an extensive and admirable neutrality regarding his controversial life and opposing views as to what kind of person he was. Indeed more than once she references Lancastrians and Tudors within their humanity and expresses compassion regarding their losses. She does not seek to disparage and the questions raised about Richard pertaining to his nephews et al. are not addressed here.

For this reason, The World of Richard III is likely to appeal to admirers of any era, WoR, prior or subsequent to, as well as those unfamiliar with even key players or events of Richard’s time. Those mildly or deeply interested in the Middle Ages, castles, cathedrals, architecture, travel, monarchy, and where we come from all will find rewards within the pages of this book. It is a history and reads not unlike a story, accessible and fascinating, bringing to life not only details of past lives, but also portraits of individual people who lived and loved, and sometimes lost in a time they recorded, deliberately and not, in the places they lived. We are brought to these magnificent locations and shown their splendor within the framework of one life influenced by countless others. We follow the trail of Richard, whose memories might include much of what is presented here, and in so doing learn a great deal more about who we ourselves are.

Warwick Castle was an historic building even in Richard's day. Despite frequenting magnificent buildings, Dean writes, "Richard may still have been awed by the castle's grandeur."
Warwick Castle was an historic building even in Richard’s day. Despite frequenting magnificent buildings, Dean writes, “Richard may still have been awed by the castle’s grandeur.”

About the Author:
Kristie DeanKristie Dean has an MA in History and now enjoys teaching the subject, following a successful career in public relations. She has been published in several online magazines and local newspapers, and presented a paper at the International Congress on Medieval Studies. She lives in Tennessee, where she is currently working on her upcoming book, The World of the Yorks, which features locations associated with the York family.

You can find more about Dean and her work at her website, her Facebook page and that of The World of Richard III.

The World of Richard III by Kristie Dean is published by Amberley Publishing, 2015. It is available to buy at all good bookstores, as well as online at the Amberley website, Amazon, Amazon UK and the Book Depository.

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A copy of The World of Richard III was furnished to the blogger in exchange for an honest review. All images courtesy Kristie Dean.