A Ration Book Christmas by Jean Fullerton blogtour book review


a ration book christmas

A Ration Book Christmas written by Jean Fullerton, publisher Corvus, is available NOW in ebook, paperback and audiobook format.

The paperback is available from all good book retailers including Waterstones, WHSmith and amazon.  The ebook is available for amazon kindle, kobo and iBooks.

To buy link (amazon UK):  https://amzn.to/2S46HRW

Product Details

With Christmas approaching, the Brogan family of London’s East End are braving the horrors of the Blitz. With the men away fighting for King and Country and the ever-present dangers of the German Luftwaffe’s nightly reign of death and destruction, the family must do all they can to keep a stiff upper lip.
For Jo, the youngest of the Brogan sisters, the perils of war also offer a new-found freedom. Jo falls in love with Tommy, a man known for his dangerous reputation as much as his charm. But as the falling bombs devastate their neighbourhood and rationing begins to bite, will the Brogans manage to pull together a traditional family Christmas? And will Jo find the love and security she seeks in a time of such grave peril?

A Ration Book Christmas Full Tour Banner

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Jean Fullerton’s latest novel: A Ration Book Christmas.  This is my first introduction to the works of Jean Fullerton and I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to pick one of her books up as I was enthralled, entertained and totally swept away by this story.  I will certainly be checking out Jean Fullerton’s back catalogue of novels.

I thoroughly enjoyed this family wartime saga set in World War Two.  The author set the scene and I could feel a sense of belonging within the storyline.  We were treated to charming, cheeky, charismatic, brave, heroic characters that were all down to earth and easily relatable.  I also loved how Jean Fullerton used dialect that suited the era and location and also fitted the characters perfectly.  There were some fabulous one liners from the cockneys from the east end of London and also great words of wisdom from the Irish family that had set up home in the capital city.

I felt the tension of the war.  Jean Fullerton didn’t brush away any of the sights that were very evident during the biggest bomb attacks during the blitz of the streets of London.  I could feel the tension during the nights of the blackouts with the dread of the sirens and then when the inevitable destruction happened the fight for survivals set my heart racing.  What was so special about this story was the community spirit with all generations and all classes mucking in and doing their bit with the war help, this warmed my heart that in dire times of need folk forgot their own problems and situations and pulled together.

This was the story of one family coming to terms with the onslaught of war with evacuations, the blitz, food rationing, separation, fear, making do.  It was also a story of life, a story of survival, a story of love overcoming many hurdles and finding a way through the many terrible days and nights of the conflict.  Jean Fullerton had taken me back to a pivotal moment in British history using fiction as a way of re-telling an horrific time for so many, we learn of how life literally carried on for everyone and routines of a different kind were made.

A Ration Book Christmas was one of the best historical wartime sagas that I’ve read. Jean Fullerton’s words totally swept me away with this story, it was engaging, tragically beautiful and filled me with warmth.

About the Author

Jean FullertonJean Fullerton is the author of eleven novels all set in East London where she was born. She is also a retired district nurse and university lecturer. She won the Harry Bowling prise in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is half way through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.

Social Media Links
Website: http://jeanfullerton.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jean-Fullerton
Twitter: @JeanFullerton_



The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr blogtour book review


The Poppy Field Cover

The Poppy Field written by Deborah Carr, publisher HarperImpulse, is available NOW in ebook format and is due to be published in paperback at the end of December.

To buy/pre-order link: https://amzn.to/2PBccWF

Product Details

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Young nurse, Gemma, is struggling with the traumas she has witnessed through her job in the NHS. Needing to escape from it all, Gemma agrees to help renovate a rundown farmhouse in Doullens, France, a town near the Somme. There, in a boarded-up cupboard, wrapped in old newspapers, is a tin that reveals the secret letters and heartache of Alice Le Breton, a young volunteer nurse who worked in a casualty clearing station near the front line.
Set in the present day and during the horrifying years of the war, both woman discover deep down the strength and courage to carry on in even the most difficult of times. Through Alice’s words and her unfailing love for her sweetheart at the front, Gemma learns to truly live again.

This is a beautifully written epic historical novel that will take your breath away.

The Poppy Field Full Tour Banner

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Deborah Carr’s latest novel: The Poppy Field.

This is my first introduction to the work of Deborah Carr and it ticked all the boxes for me.  I love reading historical fiction and especially stories set around pivotal moments in history, events that changed the world we live in now.  2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.  During the summer I had the privilege to visit many of the war graves and commemorative monuments around Flanders Field.  I was deeply moved by the graves and the traces of a war that etched scars across the country.  My husband was a member of the armed forces and I could totally emphasise with the families and loved ones that were left behind during times of conflict.  The constant fear of the unknown was a daily battle.

The story is set in two time zones; the present day and then we travel back to 1917.  Gemma has recently left her nursing job back in the UK following a very emotional break-up.  She has agreed to help oversee the renovation of an old farmhouse that has been left to her father.  The farmhouse is in Doullens, France, not far from the Somme.  A chance to escape her life in Brighton proves to be the best medicine for Gemma.

The farmhouse is pretty derelict and Gemma has quite a job on her hands but with the help of a fellow Brit living in the French village they start the task of renovating the property.  An unexpected find is made in one of the outhouses; a tin box full of letters dating back to 1917.  Curiosity peaks Gemma’s attention with these letters and she is keen to learn about the author and recipient of them.  Gemma slowly learns from the letters the emotional, brave plight of Alice Le Breton, a young VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) originally from Jersey who worked in a casualty clearing station near the frontline in Northern France.

I was captivated by the scenes the author portrayed back in 1917: it was atmospheric and you could feel the bravado from these young volunteer girls witnessing scenes they never could have imagined.  The days in the makeshift wards were relentless and there was little escape for the VADs.  Gemma felt a kinship with Alice, they were both nurses working under extreme pressure and conditions so for Gemma to learn of Alice 100 years on must have really brought to home the differences in life in medicine back then and now.

Deborah Carr’s novel was very raw and honest at times revealing war in it’s true colours.  Alice’s story must have been very similar to many back in WWI.  Love finds a way during the dark days of conflict bringing glimpses of hope for the future.  These moments must have been cherished by many.  I adored both sides of this story, the present day with Gemma overcoming her heartache and finding inspiration in the farm and letters and to Alice’s story that was just so tragically beautiful.  Heart-breaking and utterly captivating.

About the Author

The Poppy Field - Deborah MedDeborah Carr lives on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands with her husband, two children and three rescue dogs. She became interested in books set in WW1 when researching her great-grandfather’s time as a cavalryman in the 17th 21st Lancers.
She is part of ‘The Blonde Plotters’ writing group and was Deputy Editor on the online review site, Novelicious.com for seven years. Her debut historical romance, Broken Faces, is set in WW1 and was runner-up in the 2012 Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Competition and given a ‘special commendation’ in the Harry Bowling Prize that year. The Poppy Field is her second historical novel.

Social Media Links
Website: https://www.deborahcarr.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeborahCarrAuthor/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DebsCarr
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ofbooksandbeaches/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/deborahcarr/


Christmas at The Little Duck Pond Café by Rosie Green blogtour book review



Christmas at the Little Duck Pond Café written and self-published by Rosie Green is available NOW in ebook format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

To buy link:  https://amzn.to/2J2OdwQ

Product Details

Fen has always hated being the centre of attention.
She loves her new job, working behind the scenes at the Little Duck Pond Cafe and baking the scrumptious cakes that have helped its reputation soar. But frankly, she’d rather scrub the public toilet floor with a toothbrush than have to come out and talk to the customers.
She’s always been happy to stay in the background as long as she has a good supply of books to escape into. That’s her kind of romance – the fictional sort where she can read about other people taking a chance on love, but she doesn’t have to risk her own heart.
But that was before Ethan Fox arrived in the village and turned her world upside down. Ethan is a leading light in the local amateur dramatics theatre company and Fen knows he’s way out of her league.
But when the popular village Christmas pantomime hits a crisis, Fen and Ethan find themselves thrown together. Can Fen overcome her shyness and find the courage to step on stage and save the day?

Christmas at the Little Duck Pond Cafe Full Tour Banner

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the third instalment in Rosie Green’s four book series centred around the Little Duck Pond Café.  Each book is of a novella size and they are all perfect books to cosy up with.  I would wholeheartedly recommend reading all the books in order as the characters from each story do crop up in forthcoming editions and you then get a sense of involvement in the characters you have learned to love.  The books in the series are:

  • Spring at The Little Duck Pond Cafe
  • Summer at The Little Duck Pond Cafe
  • Christmas at The Little Duck Pond Cafe
  • Snowed in at The Little Duck Pond Café (due out middle of November)

Picture the scene: it’s a cold blustery day your chores are done and it’s now time to relax in your favourite comfy chair, a cuppa (maybe cake :)) and a cat curled up on your lap.  The perfect book accompaniment would be the latest instalment in Rosie Green’s Little Duck Pond Café series; Christmas at the Little Duck Pond Café.  I did just this …

I loved returned to the village and to the friends I have learned to love at the cafe.  This is Fen’s story.  Fen is the character in the background that is the star baker for the café, she’s also the friend you need to have your back.  Fen is a hopeless romantic and when Ethan invites her to join the local amateur dramatics group her fear of the unknown is overshadowed by her wanting to get to know Ethan more and have the opportunity to work closely with him.  Fen has had a massive crush on Ethan since she met him in the summer when he performed a Regency Romance show.  Fen has set her heart on Ethan, almost likening him to one of her dashing heroes in her books.

Fen receives some well-guided self-esteem boosting advice from a friend, a source she wouldn’t have expected to receive this much needed encouragement.  This was another young person that quietly get’s on with his job but acknowledges what’s going off all around him.

With Fen starting to feel a little more self-assure and the promise of attraction on the horizon the other girls at the café are suddenly having romance woes.

Rosie Green has created another wonderful instalment in The Little Duck Pond Café series.  They are books to fall in love with, to warm your heart and soul.  They are also books that are packed with plenty of drama that invokes many emotions.  I’m really enjoying this series, it’s like a friendship in a book!

About the Author

Rosie Green Author PicRosie Green has been scribbling stories ever since she was little. Back then they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’. Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all, unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Rosie’s brand new series of novellas is centred on life in a village café. The first two stories in the series are: Spring at The Little Duck Pond Cafe and Summer at The Little Duck Pond Café.

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/Rosie_Green1988


Oh! What a Pavlova by Isabella May Book Birthday Blitz


Oh What A Pavlova blogblitz

Oh! What a Pavlova is celebrating a year since it’s debut back in 2017 and I’m so pleased to be involved in the celebration Book Birthday Blitz.

Oh! What a Pavlova is written by Isabella May and was her debut novel produced by Crooked Cat Books in October 2017.  The book is available to buy in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link (amazon UK):  myBook.to/pavlova

Product Details

Oh! What a Pavlova
Kate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy.

Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation.

Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future.

And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…

But will she escape before it’s too late?

About the Author

Oh What a Author PicIsabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing. As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – http://www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One). She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’! Costa del Churros is her third novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensations, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar.

Social Media Links –
Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMayAuthor/
Instagram – @isabella_may_author

Oh Giveaway Prize - The Cocktail BarGiveaway – Win a signed copy of The Cocktail Bar (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


The Eyes That Look by Julia Grigg blogtour book review


the eyes that look

The Eyes That Look written by Julia Grigg, publisher Universe Publishing Group, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

The paperback is available from all good book retailers including Waterstones, WHSmith and amazon.  The ebook is available for amazon kindle and kobo.

To buy link (amazon UK):  https://amzn.to/2yppwGe

To buy link (Waterstones):  https://bit.ly/2Nv00Vr

Product Details

We may have eyes that look – but how clearly do we see? This compelling novel of art and adventure, Julia Grigg’s debut, is set in the feverish creativity of mid-sixteenth century Italy. Francesco Bassano wants to find out how and why an extraordinary painting was made; the story traces his quest to discover the secrets of the portrait’s past. Francesco’s journey, his coming-of-age, takes him and his questions to Venice, Verona, Maser and Florence. Encountering the High Renaissance’s masters Titian, Veronese and Vasari in the very act of creating and recording the era’s stupendous art and architecture, he is witness to astonishing achievements. Enthralled, he learns of the determination needed for innovation and the sacrifices demanded of an artist if cherished ambition is to become reality. Little by little he unravels what lies behind the painting, gaining new understanding of love, truth and beauty, and of loyalty, devotion and the unbreakable bond between a master and his dogs. However, in delving deeper, the past’s dark side reveals itself: cruelty, inhumanity and human frailty — and Francesco cannot avoid the experience of bitter betrayal. A spirited, entertaining fiction drawing on historical facts, The Eyes that Look is multi-sensual in its storytelling, inviting readers to revel in the unrivalled artistic riches of the Italian Renaissance.

the eyes that look poster

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I was kindly sent a paperback copy for review and it is stunning and I am most grateful to the publishers and blogtour organisers for this.  It has a glorious image of the famous Bassano’s Hunting Dogs painting on the front and in the inside cover.  The colours are rich but there’s a warm, earthiness to them.  I would strongly urge you to buy a copy of the paperback instead of an ebook due to this sumptuous cover.  Many a times I’ve just found myself mesmerised by the eyes and the facial expressions of the dogs.

I enjoy historical fiction, mainly romance I have to admit, but I loved both history and art at school and still appreciate both subjects now, however I’ve never studied Art History, the classics and their meanings.  Firstly, I was taken by this book by the cover image and I can see why this painting by Jacopo Bassano of the Hunting Dogs is so famous.  The eyes of the dogs draw you in and you can feel life within them.  I love the almost muted colours of the blue and copper.  It’s quite a simple painting with two main colours but I feel the image holds so much emotion.  The synopsis then drew me in about a mystery surrounding this painting, I wanted to find out more.

Julia Griggs novel based on facts around this classic painting was quite fascinating.  We travel back in time to Italy 1566 when Jacopo Bassano’s son, Francesco, was learning the craft from his father and he was keen to make his own mark on the art world.  Stumbling across sketches of the dogs Francesco was equally mesmerised by the images and was eager to learn more.  However, his father wasn’t keen on revealing the story behind the images and it was as if he was forbidden to disclose any further details.  Francesco was undeterred and went on a mission travelling far and wide through Italy and through the lives of many people who were linked to the painting.

The story behind the painting was to reveal much heartache and tragedy that was very dark at times to learn about.  The story also revealed glimmers of hope and of acceptance.

This is a story not to be rushed, it’s a story to read at your leisure to fully appreciate and enjoy this fictional tale based on facts around the Italian Renaissance by Julia Grigg.  The author definitely evoked many emotions within me and she captivated me to a time and event I had no knowledge of.  It’s given me an insight into a world of classical artists and paintings and it’s left me pondering about the stories behind many other classics.

Quite a beautiful telling of an almost tragic tale.  Julia Griggs words took me to rural Italy in the mid 1500’s journeying with a young man eager for his own independence with his craft but eager for the truth surrounding a picture that had spellbound many.  A painting that would stay with Francesco Bassano for the rest of his life with the lessons learned from his journey.

I’d like to share a quote from the book that I particularly enjoyed:

“You put a dog into a composition, you affirm life.  It’s like lighting a lamp in a darkening room: hold the flame to the wick and in the next instant you’re imbued with warmth and good feeling.”

About the Author

Julia Grigg started out in fashion journalism, her first job on Vogue, also writing on the arts, food and travel. She retains an abiding interest in all these but soon moved into a career with UNICEF as a writer and advocate for children’s issues, deployed to some of the world’s most demanding and complex countries.

Julia began The Eyes that Look – the secret story of Bassano’s Hunting Dogs while studying for the Bath Spa University Masters in Creative Writing. An early draft was longlisted for the Exeter First Novel Prize.

The novel was years in the making before a single word was put on the page. Writing it meant Julia could delve deep into the Italian High Renaissance, indulging a lifelong fascination with its art, music and poetry. In the research process she embraced online study, attended the Courtauld Institute summer school and the British Institute in Florence, and spent much time in Italian archives, galleries and churches as well as in trying to master the language.

Julia is working on the second novel of a planned Renaissance trilogy, involving mid 1500s Rome, Florence and Venice settings and some of the same cast of characters as The Eyes that Look.

Cornish in origin, Julia spends as much time as she can in the West Country, always thrilled to be once again crossing the Tamar. Dogs are another passion; she and her husband share their home with a pair of black and tan dachshunds.

Website:  http://www.juliagrigg.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/JuliaGrigg



The Warrior’s Bride Prize by Jenni Fletcher Publication Day Push #bookreview


the warrior's bridenprize

The Warrior’s Bride Prize written by Jenni Fletcher, publisher Mills & Boon Historical is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy links:

Amazon UK   https://amzn.to/2NWoZSS
Amazon   https://amzn.to/2NWoZSS
iBooks   https://apple.co/2udYkZI
WHSmith   http://bit.ly/2Nbne3b
B&N   http://bit.ly/2ug1pbF

Product Details 

Daughter of a slave…wedded to the warrior!
Livia Valeria is furious when she’s ruthlessly gambled away by her intended bridegroom. Luckily, it’s tall, muscled and darkly handsome Roman centurion Marius Varro who wins her as his bride! Livia must hide her Caledonian roots, but when Marius faces a barbarian rebellion at Hadrian’s Wall she must make a choice: her heritage or the husband she’s falling for…

The Warrior's Bride Prize blogblitz

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the Publication Day Push celebrating and promoting the launch of Jenni Fletcher’s latest historical romance: The Warrior’s Bride Prize.

Happy Publication Day Jenni Fletcher.

This is my first introduction to the work of Jenni Fletcher and it is also my first introduction to a historical romance set in the Roman era and oh my what a story!  I greedily devoured this historical romance.  The story was set in AD197 and at a time when North Britannia was on the verge of a rebellion.

From the start of the story I was captivated by the rugged landscape and especially the area surrounding Hadrian’s Wall.  Livia Valeria was on her way to an arranged marriage to pay off a debt owed to her scrupulous half-brother.  With a fear of the unknown and anxious for not just her future but that of her daughter’s Livia felt like she had no choice but to obey her brother.  Travelling the arduous journey to her new home with many pent-up feelings but she is soon put at ease when a Legion of roman soldiers greet her close to her destination.  When Livia first sets eyes on the Centurion that has been given the task to escort her she feels a sudden kinship to him.

Livia is hiding secrets from her heritage, not that she is ashamed of it but that she is afraid of others reactions and prejudices.

Marius Varro was a Centurion determined to climb the ranks.  He wasn’t happy to be assigned the task to escort the bride-to-be but upon meeting Livia he was completely taken aback.  He expected a typical Roman lady that was used to privileges but Livia was nothing like this.  He was utterly entranced by her and was shocked by his feelings so strongly felt for someone he’d just met. From the short time he spent in the final legs of the journey Marius knew that he’d do anything to protect this woman and within hours he had no choice but to honour this.  The more that Marius saw of Livia with her sparkling green eyes and her mass of wild red hair he was lost.  Lost to a life he no longer could control.

A couple thrust together to protect from an uncertain future.   A couple that were fighting their own heritages.  A couple that were also fighting against the building chemistry between them.

Jenni Fletcher’s words flowed perfectly and I was swept away with this new adventure for Livia with the uncertainty of an arranged marriage and her future.  The author has thrown so much in this novel, I didn’t expect to fall for a story set in the Roman era but I was totally entranced by this new hero and heroine partnership.  There was lots of action with the threat of the rebellion which made for an intense story.  Jenni Fletcher also wove in a gorgeous heated romance that was so beautifully told.  It was dramatic, addictive, heart warming and filled with an intense desire.  Loved it!

About the Author

jenni fletcherJenni Fletcher was born on the north coast of Scotland and now lives in Yorkshire, where she writes Medieval, Roman and Victorian romance novels.
She studied English at Cambridge University before doing an MA on Women and Literature in English and a PhD on Victorian & Edwardian literature at Hull. After realising that she was better at writing than teaching, she worked in a number of administrative jobs whilst trying to finish her first book, which was rejected. Thinking there must have been some mistake, she then wrote another, which was fortunately accepted by Harlequin Mills & Boon.
Her favourite Jane Austen novel is Persuasion and her favourite Brontë is Anne. If she had to choose a romantic hero it would be John Thornton, but maybe that’s just because she’s Northern.

Website:  http://jennifletcher.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/JenniAuthor

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/JenniFletcherAuthor/

Giveaway – Win 1 x Signed US Copy of The Warrior’s Bride Prize (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.



Bognor and other Regises: A potted history of Britain in 100 royal places by Caroline Taggart #bookextract


bognar and other regises

Bognor and other Regises: A potted history of Britain in 100 royal places written by Caroline Taggart, publisher AA Publishing is available NOW in hardcover format.

To buy link:  https://amzn.to/2IBjE1h

Product Details

Most of us are fascinated by royalty, past and present. Whether glamorous or sordid, merrie or morose, our monarchs and their families have led lives very different from ours – and all too often they’ve held the Fate of the Nation in the palms of their hands. They’ve married for diplomatic reasons and created diplomatic incidents when they divorced. They’ve refused to marry and endangered the succession; they’ve borne a dozen children and still left no one to succeed them. They’ve got themselves excommunicated and created their own religions. They’ve waged war against their neighbours and their cousins; built frivolous summer palaces and formidable fortresses (and imprisoned their cousins in them). In so doing, they’ve left their mark all over Great Britain, in castles and churches, on battle fields and stained- glass windows. Their stories are written all across our landscape, if we know where to look for them. In this amusing and fast-paced tour of Britain, Caroline Taggart is our guide to all the weird and wonderful places connected with royalty over the last 1,500 years.

About the Author

caroline taggartCaroline Taggart worked in publishing for 30 years before writing I Used to Know That, a Sunday Times best-seller. Caroline is also author of the bestselling Her Ladyship’s Guide to the Queen’s English and Around Britain by Cake for AA Publishing. She has appeared frequently on BBC Breakfast and on national and regional radio, talking about language, grammar and Pythagoras’s theorem. Her record is 16 radio interviews in one day on the subject of exclamation marks. She lives in London.


WEBSITE: https://www.carolinetaggart.co.uk/

TWITTER:  http://www.twitter.com/CiTaggart

I am so pleased to be able to share with you all an extract from the book:

The House of Hanover 1714 – 1901
George IV – Brighton Pavilion

It’s been described as looking as if the Taj Mahal had produced a litter of puppies, and certainly the Royal Pavilion’s many decorated domes and minarets are a surprising sight in a seaside town. But they have a certain symmetry and elegance, as you’d expect from the work of John Nash. It’s once you get inside the Pavilion that Nash’s royal patron’s taste for ornamentation has been allowed free rein and can leave the visitor gasping.
The royal patron in question was the Prince Regent, later George IV (he came to the throne in 1820, but had been Regent because of the madness of his father, George III, since 1811).
It’s easy to be rude about George IV – very easy – but he was a dedicated patron of the arts and made many important acquisitions for the Royal Collection. We have him to thank for the fact that we (the nation) own works by Rubens, Rembrandt and van Dyck, as well as all the major artists, sculptors, furniture makers and jewellers of his day. But you always get the feeling that George’s generosity was more to do with a desire to impress others than with any real kindliness. He wanted everything to be luxurious, not just for the sake of its beauty but to show that he had exquisite taste and that he could afford it. Except that, as it happens, he couldn’t. It was all paid for by grants from Parliament – which means, in the end, by the likes of you and me.
The Prince’s extravagance – not to mention his scandalous private life – had started long before he became Regent. While he was still in his twenties, Parliament had granted him today’s equivalent of over £18 million to pay his debts. He also went through a ceremony of marriage without asking his father’s consent. This – let’s call it an oversight – automatically invalidated the marriage, although the rigidly respectable George III would never have condoned it if he’d been asked: the bride, Maria Fitzherbert, was not only a commoner six years older than the Prince, she was twice widowed and a Catholic, ticking almost every possible box in terms of unsuitability.
What the Prince actually felt for Mrs Fitzherbert remains unclear – he is alleged to have worn her ‘eye miniature’ (an uncharacteristically discreet love token, depicting only the loved one’s eye) hidden under his lapel; it was buried with him at his request. But he was forced to renounce her publicly in order to make a politically advantageous marriage. He had agreed to marry a cousin, Caroline of Brunswick, because it meant Parliament would increase his allowance, but he found her repugnant and the couple separated as soon as they had produced an heir. Both continued to create scandals wherever they went. Having been very handsome in his youth, the Prince became obese in middle age; this, his extravagance and his unpopular political views were a rich source of inspiration for the satirical cartoonists. To go back to the Pavilion, George had a passion for Oriental art: he made full use of hand-painted Chinese wallpapers, chandeliers in the shape of lotuses and carvings of flying dragons. All of these can be seen in the Music Room, where Rossini once performed. The Long Gallery is intended to resemble a bamboo grove, although the background colour of the walls is a more flamingo-like pink. But the pièce de résistance is the Banqueting Room, where the combined effect of a spectacular chandelier, paintings covering every available wall space, a huge array of silver gilt tableware and a vast table laid for a lavish meal frankly makes you want to burst out laughing.
Although it is less extravagantly decorated, the kitchen is a worthy support to this panoply of excess. Two long tables are covered with the preparations of a meal that includes numerous forms of game bird, including a swan. Chickens roast on spits in the enormous fireplace and shelf upon shelf is laden with shining copper pans and dishes. On display is the menu for a banquet held here under the auspices of George’s French chef, the great Marie-Antoine Carême; it begins with five different sorts of soup, presumably to stop the guests getting peckish waiting for the swan to be brought in.
Shakespeare wrote about gilding refined gold, painting the lily and adding another hue unto the rainbow being ‘wasteful and ridiculous excess’. Brighton Pavilion wasn’t built for 200 years after the Bard’s death, otherwise you’d have thought it was exactly what he had in mind.