Tag Archive | historical

Review of Paper Daisies by Kim Kelly

This book is set in 1900, a time of Federation in Australia, and a time when women had few rights or choices in their lives, although they were agitating for the vote.

Berylda Jones has just come home to Bathurst from university in Sydney. She is thrilled that she has been accepted into the course for Medicine next year, and is looking forward to seeing her sister Greta after her absence. However, she  is dreading being back under the domination of their sadistic and brutal Uncle Alec, a surgeon and prominent figure in the town. Berylda is a strong character, and when she realises how bad things are for her sister at home she determines to take action to free them both from their uncle’s control.

Ben Wilberry is a gentle botanist who is grieving deeply over the loss of his mother. His promise to her that he will search for a particular flower brings him to Bathurst, and into Berylda’s life. He falls in love with Berylda, but in his unassuming way he is unsure if she is interested in him.

The story is told in alternating chapters from these two character’s points of view, and there is a great deal of introspection from both Berylda and Ben.

I found the continuing story compulsive reading as Berylda dragged me into her story, and into her deliberations over whether or not she can carry out her desperate plan to save Greta from further harm.

The themes of the story are misogyny, and the moral dilemma of whether two wrongs can make a right. I found it a book to make you look at your own moral values and wonder what you would do in Berylda’s situation.

The author’s note at the end of the story is interesting.

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Review of Congo Dawn by Katherine Scholes

Congo Dawn is a Big Book, in size as well as scope. It is set in 1964, a time of unrest in the Congo in the aftermath of throwing off Belgian rule, when the country teetered on the brink of civil war, with fears that communism was gaining support against a Western style democracy.

Anna Emerson is a secretary in Melbourne, where she has lived with her mother since her parent’s divorce when she was seven years old. Her world is turned upside down when she receives a plane ticket to the Congo from a stranger, with the message that her barely-remembered father is dying and wishes to see her.

Against her mother’s wishes she decides to go, harbouring the desire that her father must love her if he wishes to see her again. Sadly it turns out Karl Emerson has his own reasons for wanting to see her, and it has nothing to do with love or family ties.

When she discovers he is not her father but her step-father she sets out on search to find her real father, knowing only the town of her birth, Banya, which is in an area near where the Simba rebels are fighting.

Dan Miller, a no-longer-young former safari leader, is approached to sign up as a mercenary fighter, leading a force of men to help keep the communists from gaining control of the country. Although hesitant at first he agrees, and he and his chosen men head into the area of fighting against the Simba rebels.

This story is not a romance, but another look at love, with the main characters on a search through a war-torn land.

Well researched, and inspired by real events, this book is totally absorbing, as Katherine Scholes gives us another glimpse into Africa in all its diversity, in a time of trouble, where there is both heroism and brutality. My only complaint is that the ending seemed a bit abrupt to me. I would like to know what happened to all the characters further on.

Review of Daughters of theDragon by William Andrews

 

This was a history lesson for me. I had heard Korean women were taken and used by the Japanese in World War Two as sex slaves, or comfort women as they called them, but I had no idea of the horrific way they were treated., or that they numbered more than 100,000. William Andrews has done his research well and.although fiction, this book is based on reality, and is a heart -rending story. The latter part of the book also looks at the political side of the division between north and south Korea, which I found interesting.

The story is told in flashbacks by Mrs Hong, a former comfort woman, as she tells her story to her granddaughter, Anna.

The story has some flaws. I found the character of Anna, the American/Korean girl on a visit to Korea,  weak and almost superfluous. Also the writing was not always good, mainly in the present day situation with Anna.

But for all of that I found the story riveting. It is a part of history that I believe has not been widely reported. I give it four stars.

 

Famous Women in History

Women who were never boring- always awesome

These are famous women from history. Some were known for their beauty, some for their scandalous love affairs, and others for what they achieved in their lives. But they all had one thing in common. They were strong, independent women – women of spirit who weren’t afraid to take a chance. They grabbed life with both hands and to Hell with the rest of the world!

EVE

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She was the one who started it all! She took a bite out of an apple that a serpent gave her and passed it to Adam, thereby creating original sin. It is because of her that women throughout time have been blamed for being seductresses.

A role model for ever?

 

 

CLEOPATRACleopatra-VII

Cleopatra ruled ancient Egypt for almost three decades. Well-educated and clever, she was a dominant ruler. Both her love affairs and military pacts with the Roman leaders, both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, as well as her striking beauty and powers of seduction, have earned her a lasting place in history.

The true love story of Antony and Cleopatra, two powerful figures, is intriguing and moving, and one of the great love stories of all times. They fell in love at first sight, and their relationship gave the country of Egypt great power. But their love affair angered the Romans, who were wary of the growing powers of the Egyptians. Despite all the threats, Antony and Cleopatra married. While he was fighting a battle against the Romans, Antony got false news of Cleopatra’s death. Devastated, he fell on his sword. When Cleopatra learned about Antony’s death she was broken hearted, and took her own life by means of an asp bite on August 12, 30 BC.

 What a woman!

JOAN OF ARC

In 1424, at the age of 13, Jeanne d’Arc, an illiterate French shepherdess began having visions, in which Saint Margaret, Saint Catherine, and Saint Michael told Joan, as she was known in English, she must support King Charles VII and help rid France of the English. At the head of her troops Joan led them to capture first Orleans, then Rheims, Paris, and many other towns in an effort to free France from the English.

While the French lauded her for her accomplishments, the English declared her a heretic. Joan was captured eventually by the Burgundians, allies of the English, to whom they traded her for money. The English put her on trial, quickly convicted her and sentenced her to death.

On May 30, 1431, at the age of 19, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for her crimes against the English. In 1456, Pope Callixtux III declared that Joan was innocent of her crimes; at this time, she became a martyr. In 1909, Joan of Arc was beatified, meaning she was accorded the power to intervene on behalf of those who prayed in her name. In 1920, she was canonized, which is an official declaration of Sainthood.

A French heroine, brave beyond belief!

Queen Elizabeth 1st

Queen Elizabeth 1st ruled England from 1558 – 1603, and left us with an amazing picture of a glittering time of excitement and achievement. The Queen, larger than life as she inspired her people, was at the centre of it all.

Her father was the notorious King Henry the Eight, who had six wives. Elizabeth was the daughter of his second wife, Anne Boleyn, who was beheaded for suspected adultery and other trumped-up crimes, when Elizabeth was only three years old.

 

Elizabeth ruled wisely and fairly for forty five years, taking advice from her council of learned men, but going her own way. In spite of pressure from her advisers she refused to ever marry, and became known as the ‘Virgin Queen’. However, she loved the attention of  her devoted courtiers, and was rumoured to have affairs – particularly with her favourite, Robert, Lord Dudley who, it is believed, was her one true love, and, in later years, with Robert Devereux, the young earl of Essex.

 

She was a diplomatic ruler who restored the Church of England and eased tensions between England and France, and England thrived throughout her reign.

 

In an age when women were considered inferior to men, Elizabeth was a glorious exception.

 

Mae West

A 1930’s Hollywood sex symbol, Mae West was assertive in an age when women were supposed to be submissive; she was openly bawdy when respectability was the order of the day.

She began her career as a child star in vaudeville, and later went on to write her own plays, including “SEX”, for which she was arrested and sentenced to 10 days in jail for ‘corrupting the morals of youth.’ She got her first part in the movies in 1932, and with her first film she became a box-office smash hit, breaking all sorts of attendance records.

 

The controversy aroused by the sexy content in her first two films resulted in the studios establishing the Motion Picture Production Code, which regulated what content could be shown or said in pictures. After this she used ’double talk’, which could be interpreted in two ways, to get around the censorship rules.

 

Although she only appeared in 12 films, as well as spending much time on the stage, she had a powerful impact on the public. She was way ahead of her time with her sexual innuendos and the way she made fun of the puritanical society of the day.

She once quipped, ‘You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.’

 

She made sex her tool of trade, when women were supposed to be ladies.

 

Amy Johnson

 

In 1930 Amy Johnson was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia, and she set a string of other records throughout her career. She was regarded as one of the most inspirational women of the twentieth century.

She worked as a typist for a firm of solicitors until, at a loose end one Sunday afternoon, she made her way to Stag Lane Aerodrome in North London. She was enthralled by the primitive biplanes taking off and landing, and began to spend all her spare time at the aerodrome. She gained a ground engineer’s licence and took flying lessons, and in 1929 she was awarded her pilot’s licence.

Amy left Croydon Airport on  May 5th 1930 to fly solo from England to Australia. She was in a second-hand Gipsy Moth called Jason, with no radio link with the ground or reliable information about the weather. Her maps were basic but she had plotted the most direct route – simply by placing a ruler on the map. This took her over some of the world’s most inhospitable terrain and meant she had to fly in the open cockpit for at least eight hours at a time. In spite of a forced landing in a sandstorm in the Iraq desert she reached India in a record six days, and suddenly she was world famous. She became called the “British Girl Lindbergh”, “Wonderful Miss Johnson” and “The Lone Girl Flyer”.

When she ran into a monsoon near Rangoon a bumpy landing ripped a hole in Jason’s wing and damaged its propeller. A local technical institute repaired the wing and Amy landed in Australia on Saturday, May 24th  to tumultuous crowds. Over the next six weeks she was treated like a superstar. Women asked their hairdressers for an ‘Amy Johnson wave’ and at least ten songs were written about her, the most famous  being ‘Amy, Wonderful Amy’. Fan mail poured in and her fame was so great that an envelope addressed to ‘Amy wat flies in England’ reached her.

After a short courtship, Amy married Scottish pilot Jim Mollison in 1932, and they became known as the “flying sweethearts”. They both created many more records and won many air races. America took them to their hearts. They were given a ticker tape parade in New York and entertained by President Roosevelt.

A daring adventurer.

 

Elizabeth Taylor 

One of the greatest beauties of all time, Elizabeth Taylor started dancing at the age of 3, made her screen debut at the age of 10, and had a love life that made international headlines. She shone as an actress, winning two Oscars and numerous film awards, and her films grossed many millions at the box office.

 

Her personal life received constant media attention, and the public adored her for her passionate embrace of life.  She was married eight times to seven men, and led a jet set lifestyle, and amassed an incredibly expensive collection of jewelry.

 

Her most famous marriage was the fiery and passionate one to Richard Burton, whom she married twice.

She was the movie star of all times, with her marriages, her jewelry, her amazing violet eyes     her talent, and her spirit.

Shortly after her death, her son Michael Wilding released a statement, saying “My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love ….. We will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world.”

Truly a woman of spirit!

 

Kitty Morland was not famous, but she was every inch a woman of spirit. http://a.co/ctaYRGF

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration comes first

I always enjoy learning the history of places I visit, and while living on the beautiful mid-north coast of New South Wales, I researched the past of Bulahdelah, a picturesque village about 200kms north of Sydney on the Myall River.

 Bulahdelah Mountain  Looking out from Bulahdelah Mountain

 In the early days of colonisation  Bulahdelah was well-known as a timber-cutting area, home to magnificent cedar trees. The local Historical Society is active, and they made their information freely available to me, and I searched records and pored over photos. Then an artist friend loaned me a book of ‘Rachel Henning’s Letters’- letters that had been written by the English wife of a Bulahdelah timber-mill manager in the mid-nineteenth century to her various family members. In them she described her daily life, which she found very agreeable.

 This made me curious about the lifestyle and conditions for all women in the nineteenth century

What my research found was that women then had few rights and were dominated by the men of the time, and not all women led the pleasant life enjoyed by Rachel Henning.

The law in that era stated that when a woman married, all her assets became her husband’s property, and the law gave him the right to force her to obey him in every area of her life.  This meant she was totally dependent on him for everything, both financially and emotionally. If he turned out to be heartless, violent or miserly, she had little or no recourse.

So, under the laws of the day a woman had few rights; prior to her marriage, she must obey her father, and when she married all her property became her husband’s on the day of their marriage. She became virtually his chattel, to treat as he wished. No matter how badly he chose to treat her, she had to bear it.

Women were considered to be physically, emotionally and intellectually inferior to men, and the entrenched and patronising attitudes of the time meant that the judiciary, all male, took the view that whatever the man did was right and a woman was meant to be an obedient homemaker and bedwarmer for her husband, while not expecting sexual pleasure herself!

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Throughout history there have been many influential women

 But on investigation it becomes obvious that they were either rulers, like Elizabeth 1, in England, or Catherine of Russia, or else they were wives, mistresses or concubines of influential men. Many of them had great power.

Strong, powerful women. 1237405994_top-10-hottest-historical-women_flash

But what of the ordinary, everyday women…

Women who had the spirit to rebel against this injustice – women who refused to be browbeaten by the men?  And if they defied custom – could they face the results of going against the conventions of the day?

Happiness – and love – could not have been easy!

It was these findings that incensed me and provoked me into writing the Redwoods  series.

AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN  is the first novel in the series. This book focuses on life in Australia in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and to make the story authentic meant researching many details in Sydney in that era. Which hotels, pubs, churches etc had been built by then? Where would Kitty and her mother have shopped? How far had the suburbs spread by then? What transport was available?  It also looks at the attitudes that caused Kitty much unhappiness in her marriage.

Independant Woman final

 After I finished ‘An Independent Woman’ I started to think seriously of my  next book ,which  continues Kitty’s story and begin that of her young daughter Joy. However, I found that writing in a series throws up a whole new set of problems for an author. I have covered this topic in  my blog on writing a series  (Sept 7)

 A Liberated Woman finalBy the time I came to write ‘A LIBERATED WOMAN’ I had already done a lot of research into Sydney in the late 1800’s for ‘An Independent Woman’. However by 1893, the starting date of this book, the political climate had changed. There was hot debate over the looming prospect of Federation.  Some colonies were for Federation, some against, and I needed to research the political figures of the day and their opinions. Also, Australia was in the grip of an economic depression – did this affect my characters?

Then there was a whole new world to portray when Joy went to England, to meet her English family, to be presented to Queen Victoria, and to have a London Season. The relatively free and easy lifestyle of Australia gave way to the strict social codes of Victorian England, where life was highly regulated.

My research for this included learning the protocol of presentation at Court, and what activities happened where and when during the Season – from garden parties and coming-out balls…

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 to a week at Royal Ascot for the thoroughbred racing….

 Ascot,-Royal-Enclosur[1]  Royal enclosure at Ascot, 1800’s

‘AN AMBITIOUS WOMAN’, the last book in the trilogy, begins with the commencement of the new century, a time of hope and new beginnings, and focuses on Joy’s life now she has becomes a woman – on her relationships, and on her burning ambition to make Redwoods into a successful thoroughbred horse stud, an ambition that was born back in England when she visited Royal Ascot with her grandfather.

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 As I had already done a great deal of research into women’s roles in those early years for the previous two books I had no need to delve further there, but I knew little of horse breeding.  So my research focused on that. I investigated some of the ailments that can afflict horses, watched the birth of a foal on ‘You Tube’ video and ‘picked the brains’ of a horse breeder. All very interesting.

 For the racetrack scenes I drew on my own experiences, having been a lover of thoroughbred racing and a frequent visitor to the races for many years. I have always loved the thrill of watching those magnificent animals stretching towards the winning post, every fibre in their bodies striving to win, and then to see how they relish the cheers of the crowd when they beat the rest of the field!                       

                                           !How they love to race!      371128-race-horses

 Having once been the part-owner of a racehorse I understand the nervous excitement  Joy felt  before and during each race, and the euphoria when her horse came first past the post – a feeling that’s hard to beat! And I understand too the affection and attachment you feel for your horse, win or lose!

As for the relationships and emotions of the characters, in all the books– well, allowing for the difference in the conventions of the time they’re not all that different from those of people today. Times change, but people don’t.

Over the centuries we have all had similar needs and desires – for a good life, security, a loving partner. A wish for romance is strong in many of us. And we all experience similar emotions at times. Love, hate, fear, anger, frustration. We all have different ways of dealing with them, and so it is for the people of Redwoods.

I had a lot fun doing this research, and putting the characters into the situations in these books. I hope you will enjoy reading about them as much as I have enjoyed telling their stories.

‘AN AMBITIOUS  WOMAN’ is now available on Amazon and  on SmashwordsApple iBooks, Barnes &Noble , and Kobo

 

 www.kateloveday.com

writer’s Week in Adelaide SA

Now writer’s week is over, I can say that one of the most interesting discussions was with a panel of three international book publishers – from the UK, Germany and India. They discussed the situation with traditional publishing in today’s technological world. Although cautious with their words, the consesus was that digital printing is the the way of the future for publishing. Having recently researched the statistics re the rise in sales of e-readers and e-books over the past two years, I was not surprised. Two of my books, ‘Inheritance’ and ‘An Independent Woman’ have become available on Kindle during the last month.