Showing posts from November, 2009

Pre-Raphaelites in Love: Millias, Effie Gray and John Ruskin

In 1854, the gossip in London society was all about the collapse of art critic John Ruskin’s marriage to Effie Gray. Not even the recent war in the Crimea was as titillating a topic. Nobody could talk about anything else. The matter was the hot topic at dinner parties for months as people eagerly chewed over the details. Ladies whispered about it in the drawing rooms, while men muttered over it while sipping brandy and smoking cigars at their private clubs. It was a far cry from the happy day when Effie married Ruskin on April 10, 1848 in the drawing room of her parents’ home in Perth. The Ruskins and the Grays had known each other for years. Effie had first met Ruskin when she was twelve and he was twenty-one. When Effie attended boarding school in Stratford upon Avon, she stayed with the Ruskins’ enroute. When her younger sisters came down with scarlet fever, the Ruskins kept Effie until the contagion had passed. When Effie was almost 19, and Ruskin 28, they became reacquainted whe

Sunday Book Review: The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale, published by Walker & Co. (US), Bloomsbury Books (UK) From the back cover: It is midnight on 30th June 1860 and all is quiet in the Kent family's elegant house in Road, Wiltshire.  The next morning, however, they wake to find that their youngest son has been the victim of an unimaginably gruesome murder.  Even worse, the guilty party is surely one of their number - the house was bolted from the inside.  As Jack Whicher, the most celebrated detective of his day, arrives at Road to track down the killer, the murder provokes national hysteria at the thought of what might be festering behind the closed doors of respectable middle-class homes - scheming servants, rebellious children, insanity, jealously, loneliness and loathing.  This true story has all the hallmarks of a classic gripping murder mystery.  A body, a detective, a country houe steeped in secrets and a whole family of suspects - it is the original Victorian whodunn

Happy Thanksgiving and the Winner of Delilah

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. May the day be filled with joy, laughter, family, friends, and plenty of food! And now for the winner of India Edghill's Delilah...... Gwendolyn B Thanks to everyone that entered. Please come back again and enter The Winter Queen giveaway or in December, when I will be giving away at least 3 books, just in time for Xmas..

Guest Blogger Polly Guerin on Carmen Miranda

Those of us who remember that dynamic "tutti frutti " dancing diva, Carmen Miranda, will never forget her bombastic style and sensuous singing. Carmen Miranda who died on August 5, 1955 at the far too young age of 46 set the standard for Latin performers. She broke through racial barriers to make a dramatic mark on the silver screen in Hollywood and by some accounts she was one of the highest-paid artists and reported to be the highest-earning woman in the United States during the 1940s and 1950's, the heyday of her oeuvre. Promoting Brazil Although Portuguese-born, Miranda was famous for promoting Brazil in her role as an entertainer. It is no wonder, therefore, that Brazilians called her their own. When she died, according to her wishes her body was flown back to Brazil where the Brazilian government declared a period of national mourning. In tribute to her colossal memory more than a million people stood on the funeral possession's route to mourn her untimely

Special November Giveaway - The Winter Queen by Amanda McCabe

Just in time for Christmas! The final giveaway of the month is the Winter Queen by Amanda McCabe.  Here is a teaser: As Queen Elizabeth's lady-in-waiting, innocent Lady Rosamund is unprepared for the temptations of Court. She is swept up in the festivities of the yuletide season and, as seduction perfumes the air, Rosamund is drawn to darkly enticing Anton Gustavson…. With the coming of the glittering Frost Fair, they are tangled in a web of forbidden desire and dangerous secrets. For in this time of desperate plots and intrigues, Anton is more than just a handsome suitor—he may have endangered the life of the woman he is learning to love…. If you love historicals, particularly ones set during the Elizabethan period, you will love this book. Also head on over to Amanda's blog here , where she has several posts on Elizabethan heroines. Note this giveaway is only available to my American and Canadian readers. Here are the rules: 1) Just leave a comment with your ema

Guest Blogger Paula Fletchall-Bryner on Lady Pirates: "Cutlass Liz" Shirland

Scandalous Women is pleased to welcome Guest Blogger Paula Fletchall-Bryner to talk about Lady Pirates: “Cutlass Liz” The story of Elizabeth Shirland (or Sherland), the lady pirate of Sir Francis Drake’s Spanish Main, is as far from black and white as you can get, historically speaking. In fact its one big pit of gray. The kind that makes researchers back away slowly without making eye contact for fear of losing a limb. That’s probably why so little has been written about “Cutlass Liz” and why what has been written tends to dismiss the possibility of her existence out of hand. The legend goes something like this: Shirland was born in that most seafaring of English shires, Devon, some time between 1550 and 1560. In her early teens, for no reason specified other than she was one of those kind of girls, Shirland cast off her skirts in favor of breeches and chose a life at sea. Beginning in 1577, she served under Drake – arguably the most successful of Queen Elizabeth’s sea dogs – aboa

Interview and Giveaway with Delilah author India Edghill

Scandalous Women is pleased to welcome India Edghill to the blog to talk about her new book Delilah which will be released by St. Martin's Press on November 24th. Here's a quick teaser: Given to the temple of Atargatis as a child, Delilah is raised to be a priestess to the Five Cities that rule Canaan. With her beloved friend Aylah, Delilah grows up under the watchful eyes of high priestess Derceto, who sees the devout young priestesses as valuable playing pieces in her political schemes. In the hills of Canaan, the Israelites chafe under the rule of the Five Cities, and choose Samson to lead them to victory. A reluctant warrior, Samson is a man of great heart who prefers peace to war. But fearing a rebellion, those who rule the Five Cities will do anything to capture Samson. When Samson catches a glimpse of Delilah, he is ready to risk his freedom to marry her, and Derceto seizes the chance to have Samson at her mercy. The Temple's intrigues against Samson force A

The Winner of Vanora Bennett's Blood Royal

And the winner of Vanora Bennett's Blood Royal is...... Fleur De Mar Thanks to everyone that entered. Please come back because there are more giveaways coming up on Scandalous Women!

Today in #Herstory: The Wedding Catherine of Aragon and Prince Arthur

On November 14, 1501, Catherine of Aragon married Prince Arthur, son of Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth, at St. Paul's Catheredral in London. Five months later Arthur was dead and a whole can of worms opened up. Was their marriage consummated? Historians have been debating this question for centuries. Catherine of Aragon was 16, and Arthur was 15 on their wedding day. The two had already been married by proxy in 1499, waiting only until Arthur was old enough.  The couple later met on November 4, 1501 at Dogmersfield in Hampshire. Little is known about what they first thought of each other, but Arthur wrote to his in-laws that he would be 'a true and loving husband' and told his parents that he was immensely happy to 'behold the face of his lovely bride'. After their marriage, Arthur was sent to Ludlow Castle, to preside over the Council of Wales and the Marches, as was his duty as Prince of Wales, and Catherine went with him. A few months later, they both fell il

New Book: High Society The Life of Grace Kelly

Today would have been the 80th birthday of Grace Kelly, born November 12, 1929. Last year, I wrote a post about her here .  Now a new book by author Donald Spoto was just released this month. I have read almost every major biography of Grace Kelly, so I'm sort of anxious as to whether or not this one is going to be any good. However, I have read several books by Donald Spoto, most recently his biography of Hitchcock Spellbound, so I am hopeful that this one won't be a hatchet job. From the back cover: Drawing on his unprecedented access to Grace Kelly, bestselling biographer Donald Spoto at last offers an intimate, honest, and authoritative portrait of one of Hollywood’s legendary actresses. In just seven years–from 1950 through 1956–Grace Kelly embarked on a whirlwind career that included roles in eleven movies. From the principled Amy Fowler Kane in High Noon to the thrill-seeking Frances Stevens of To Catch a Thief, Grace established herself as one of Hollywood’s most ta

The Power of the Force - Female Force

Even though technically I'm an adult, I still read graphic novels. A couple of months ago, I was in one of my favorite comic book stores when I found these comics by Blue Water Productions . Featuring Hilary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Michele Obama and Caroline Kennedy in the first few issues, the initial mandate was to feature strong women in politics. These issues have been collected into one book. Since the first few issues, Female Force has done issues on Condoleeza Rice, Oprah, Barbara Walters and Princess Diana. The comics are about 35 pages, the art work is superb and best of all there is a bibliography of books and web-sites so that readers can find out more information about these women. I think they are great for both middle school and high school students. While they shouldn't replace reading biographies, it can give kids a strong sense of who these women were. Future issues will feature Nancy Pelosi, Stephanie Meyers (of Twilight Fame) and JK Rowling. While I

Winner of Sunflowers and New Giveaway of Vanora Bennett's Blood Royal

The winner of Sheramy Bundrick's amazing new novel Sunflowers is, drumroll please: Mageela Thanks to everyone that entered. I'm sorry that it took me so long to post the winner. Last week was my birthday and I spent most of the week partying and doing research. The next giveaway on the blog will be Vanora Bennett's Blood Royal . Here is a brief description: The story of a great queen, a woman of enormous courage who made her own rules, and a true survivour. This is the first in a series of early medieval novels by Vanora Bennett, the author of 'Portrait of an Unknown Woman' . Catherine de Valois, daughter of the French king is born in troubled times. Though she is being brought up in a royal court, it is a stormy and unstable environment. Her only firend is the remarkable poet and writer Christine de Pizan. She is married off to Heny V as part of a treaty honouring his victory over France, and is destined to be a trophy wife. Terrified at the idea of bein

What's Coming up in November

I can't believe that we are already into November which means December is right around the corner. I'm in the depths of writing my manuscript so bear with me if some of these don't come to fruition. Interview with India Edghill, author of Delilah and Giveaway Giveaway of Vanora Bennett's new novel Blood Royal about Catherine de Valois and Owen Tudor Still a few days left to enter the Giveaway for Sheramy Bundrick's Sunflowers Posts on the love triangle of painter Millais, and John and Effie Ruskin Chanel during the War Catherine of Aragon Reviews of the films Lady Jane and Marie Antoinette (Norma Shearer version) Also some guest bloggers will be showing up!

Marie Antoinette's Birth Chart

Since Marie Antoinette and I share a birthday, every year I've done a Marie Antoinette themed post. This year, I thought I would examine Marie's birth chart. I've copied the chart from a web-site called astrotheme . If you want to read a longer more in depth version of Marie's birth chart, you can do so at the web-site. I read somewhere on line that when Marie Antoinette was born, an astrologer predicted that she would lead an unhappy life, and her eventual fate. I'm pretty sure that is just a myth. Marie Antoinette was born during the Age of Enlightenment, the era when Kings or Queens had a court astrologer were more than likely over. I do think that you can learn a lot about a person from a pyschological standpoint by looking at their birthchart. Certainly pyschoanalysts like Carl Jung were fascinating by what a birth chart can reveal about a person. I've personally always been fascinated by astrology ever since I was old enough to know exactly what it was