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Mary Carnegie

UK
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  • Hell Ship

  • By: Michael Veitch
  • Narrated by: Michael Veitch
  • Length: 8 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 8

The riveting story of one of the most calamitous voyages in Australian history, the plague-stricken sailing ship Ticonderoga that left England for Victoria with 800 doomed emigrants on board. For more than a century and a half, a grim tale has passed down through Michael Veitch’s family: the story of the Ticonderoga, a clipper ship that sailed from Liverpool in August 1852, crammed with poor but hopeful emigrants - mostly Scottish victims of the Clearances and the potato famine. A better life, they believed, awaited them in Australia.   

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Thought provoking.

  • By Retired on 04-11-18

A harrowing true story from Scotland and Australia’s past.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 15-01-19

The author narrates the voyage of his great-grandparents to Australia. The mid 19th century saw large numbers of Irish and Scots displaced from their ancestral lands, or driven by economic necessity to seek a new, very different life far from home. Ironically, sheep-farming, which had replaced humans in the Highlands, required new manpower in Australia, preferably family men who wouldn’t dart off in search of gold at Ballarat. So the powers-that-be organised population transfer to the other end of the earth for thousands. Veitch’s great grandfather was one of the two doctors on the nightmare voyage of the Ticonderoga, and his great grandmother a passenger.
Conditions on board were better than on a slave ship, but far from good enough to prevent the spread of disease on a nonstop journey from Birkenhead to Port Phillip. Most passengers were Scots, but I wasn’t surprised to learn that the English passengers got the best quarters, and the few Irish the worst!!
Even when the clipper reached Australia, the horror was not over; the yellow jack of quarantine was flying, so that disembarkment was not immediate. In spite of their tragic arrival, many survivors did establish a new life, and their descendants are numerous.
In the UK, history tends to have focused on emigration to North America, and I was glad to hear of this lesser known migration.

  • A History of Britain in 21 Women

  • By: Jenni Murray
  • Narrated by: Jenni Murray
  • Length: 8 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 647
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 598
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 586

Britain has been defined by its conflicts, its conquests, its men and its monarchs. To say that it's high time it was defined by its women is a severe understatement. Jenni Murray draws together the lives of 21 women to shed light upon a variety of social, political, religious and cultural aspects of British history. In lively prose Murray reinvigorates the stories behind the names we all know and reveals the fascinating tales behind those less familiar.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very enjoyable and interesting

  • By Mrs C.J D'Elia on 12-10-16

A familiar voice, an interesting theme.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-01-19

Jenni Murray must have interviewed more women of our time than any journalist. This is her selection of only 21 women who have stood out as game-changers. Not all are loveable but they’ve all been important, often not in a high status sense. Shame there’s nobody between Boudicca and Elizabeth I of England on her list! But men, like victors of war, were the historians till fairly recently.
Most I was at least aware of, like Fanny Burney and Aphra Behn, some I’d never heard of - like Ethel Smyth or Caroline Hershel, others were more familiar- Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Mary Seacole, Mary Somerville, and some I remember, fondly (Barbara Castle) or bitterly (Margaret Thatcher) and, of course, Nicola Sturgeon (born in the same hospital as me) holds a special place in my heart.

  • Queen Isabella

  • Treachery, Adultery, and Murder in Medieval England
  • By: Alison Weir
  • Narrated by: Lisette Lecat
  • Length: 21 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 18

Popular historian Alison Weir has crafted best-selling biographies of such prominent icons as King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. A master at uncovering fascinating and little-known details, Weir brings these historical figures to life with a brilliant blend of entertainment and scholarship. No English queen has drawn more ire than the vilified Queen Isabella. Weir, at long last, delivers the definitive biography of one of the most controversial members of English royalty.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Well I solved my insomnia..

  • By Ama on 11-08-13

Surprisingly boring biography of a controversial queen.

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-01-19

Isabelle has been known mostly as “La Louve de France” a volume of Maurice Druon’s “Les Rois Maudits”, which I believe became popular again when it was cited as an inspiration for “Game of Thrones” - which I’ve never seen- so I assume it’s available in translation. Even though Druon was writing historical fiction, I think he gave a better account of Isabelle.
You wouldn’t expect a woman whose father was Philippe le Bel (destroyer of the Templars) and father-in-law the warmongering Edward I, to have a serene life - especially after Jacques de Molay’s thundering curse (you don’t need to believe it, it’s enough that many believed it at the time).
Her rôle in the destruction of her sisters-in-law is downplayed, as is much of her vindictiveness. Fortunately there are limited sources describing her clothing (the author is prone to recount in mind numbing detail the fashion sense of her subjects!).
I don’t think she can assume that Isabelle’s marriage was not consummated till her first conception four years later. A woman’s early periods do not usually mean she is fertile (although I wouldn’t count on it as a reliable method of natural birth control). I had hoped for a nonfiction biography from the English point of view; I didn’t get it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Private Lives of the Tudors

  • Uncovering the Secrets of Britain's Greatest Dynasty
  • By: Tracy Borman
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble, Sandra Duncan
  • Length: 15 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 349
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 316
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 319

The Tudor monarchs were constantly surrounded by an army of attendants, courtiers and ministers. Even in their most private moments, they were accompanied by a servant specifically appointed for the task. A groom of the stool would stand patiently by as Henry VIII performed his daily purges, and when Elizabeth I retired for the evening, one of her female servants would sleep at the end of her bed. These attendants knew the truth behind the glamorous exterior.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Utterly absorbing!

  • By Gabrielle Harvey-Jones on 19-06-16

In praise of excess and narcissism

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-12-18

Not so much the private lives of the Tudors, as an inventory of their ridiculously expensive wastage of England’s gross national product.
It’s all very well saying that conspicuous consumption was necessary to project an image of semi divine kingship (even more essential for queens regnant) but, let’s face it, England was a small kingdom at the end of the earth, peripheral to Europe (which is perhaps the way England likes it), and the Tudors did, initially, have a dubious claim to the throne, but it can’t have helped their international status to have such an impoverished, unhealthy and terrorised population, thereby reducing trade and impeding Henry VIII’s military ambitions. All that money wasted on clothes, building palaces, food - mostly meat, to boot. The Tudors were an ecological disaster; possibly (LOL) bringing the Little Ice Age to an end all by themselves!
It’s a very superficial book, quite boring, except that it brings out the revolutionary in me.
She is very dismissive of James VI - a “sexual pervert”, although there’s no evidence that he did have physical relationships with his favourites, and even if he did??? He was just as well educated and intelligent as Elizabeth, and commissioned the most memorable English translation of the Bible to date. Agreed, he was no beauty, but I doubt whether Henry or Elizabeth were as attractive as the author says. She seems to take the flattery of courtiers as gospel. James had a childhood much more traumatic than any of these, so it’s surprising he managed to be a reasonably good king in Scotland before he went down to the fleshpots of London. Actually, I’m not a great fan of the late Stuarts, but the English dynasties which preceded them were hardly paragons.

  • A History of Britain: Volume 1

  • By: Simon Schama
  • Narrated by: Stephen Thorne
  • Length: 15 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 603
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 519
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 515

The story of Britain from the earliest settlements in 3000BC to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. To look back at the past is to understand the present. In this vivid account of over 4,000 years of British history, Simon Schama takes us on an epic journey which encompasses the very beginnings of the nation's identity, when the first settlers landed on Orkney. From the successes and failures of the monarchy to the daily life of a Roman soldier stationed on Hadrian's Wall, Schama gives a vivid, fascinating account of the many different stories and struggles that lie behind the growth of our island nation.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Well written but hard to manage as an audiobook

  • By Roderic on 23-01-14

Glad I gave it a go.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-12-18

I’m generally reluctant to read/listen to books purporting to be histories of Britain, as they often turn out to be histories of England - which is, of course, an “island”. However I was impressed by the scope of Schama’s history of the Jews, so I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. I’ve not been disappointed. Entertaining, informative, myth-busting, intelligent and wide-ranging, I found it enjoyable and sometimes amusing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain

  • or Sixty Years of Making the Same Stupid Mistakes
  • By: John O'Farrell
  • Narrated by: John O'Farrell
  • Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 158
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 67

Following his hugely popular account of the previous 2000 years, John O'Farrell now comes bang up to date with a hilarious modern history asking 'How the hell did we end up here?' An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain informs, elucidates and laughs at all the bizarre events, ridiculous characters and stupid decisions that have shaped Britain's story since 1945; leaving the Twenty-First Century reader feeling fantastically smug for having the benefit of hindsight.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Listen

  • By Ian on 14-11-09

A short amusing account of post-war UK

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-12-18

From Clem to Tony and Gordon, the author signals the development of our post-war life, from the wonders of the NHS (much as we like to moan about it) through the Thatcher devastations, EU, stupid wars over Suez, Falklands and Iraq/Afghanistan, world economic crisis over subprime mortgages, without sounding like a grumpy old man.
He’s right that, after decades of Irish terrorism, we should not have overreacted to 9/11, ending up by provoking new terror groups to seek notoriety. But because the book ends when it does, he’s over optimistic about the USA, and could never have foreseen Brexit (turning UK into a client state of USA), but he did remind me of many of the positive achievements of these years. As the human brain is designed to pick out the negative, an essential element of survival, it’s as well to focus on good things as well (as the 3-day week, miners’ strikes, 3m unemployed, poll tax, denationalisation, we did have improved rights for women and many minorities, the Good Friday Agreement, and, until now, membership of the EU.
What comes next (2019 on) we’ll have to wait and see (and pray very hard!)

  • An Utterly Impartial History of Britain

  • By: John O'Farrell
  • Narrated by: John O'Farrell
  • Length: 3 hrs and 57 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 107
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 47
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 47

From 55 BC to AD 1945, An Utterly Impartial History of Britain informs, explains, but most of all laughs at the seemingly incomprehensible rollercoaster of events that make up the story of Great Britain.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bordering on seditious; very enjoyable.

  • By Matt on 12-04-08

Short, laugh out loud history of UK

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 27-11-18

“Patriotism is not enough.” said Edith Cavell. She was right. A sense of humour is one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity, and the ability to laugh at one’s own absurdity might have prevented much carnage.
O’Farrell reminds us that, while Hitler and Mussolini became dictators, Britain (Daily Mail excluded!) just laughed at Oswald Mosley. If more folk had laughed at UKIP and Trump, we’d not be in such a mess now, on the brink of Brexit, with a superpower governed by tweets.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Time Traveller's Guide to Restoration Britain

  • By: Ian Mortimer
  • Narrated by: Greg Wagland
  • Length: 19 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 422
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 385
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 386

If you could travel back in time, the period from 1660 to 1700 would make one of the most exciting destinations in history. It's the age of Samuel Pepys and the Great Fire of London, bawdy comedy and the libertine court of Charles II, Christopher Wren in architecture, Henry Purcell in music and Isaac Newton in science. In The Time Traveller's Guide to Restoration Britain, Ian Mortimer answers the crucial questions that a prospective traveller to 17th-century Britain would ask.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Informative, interesting and entertaining history

  • By Kirstine on 21-09-17

I’d give this era low rating on Trip Advisor.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-11-18

But not the book, which is informative and lively. The dreadful Charles II has returned from exile, and for a while, many people breathe a sigh of relief. Life during the Commonwealth has been decidedly dull at best, fun is banned and it’s a world in black and white. With Charles, of course, fun is compulsory (even when it’s not enjoyable, especially for women).
He was not a wise monarch, like his father before him (IMHO, the worst Scotsman ever born!), but the colour is back in the world.
The Great Plague, the Great Fire of London, Pepys, venereal disease, scurrilous plays and poetry, but we also learn how ordinary people lived in all sections of the population, this time including Scotland, because at this date, the Crowns have been merged, but not the Parliaments.
It seems that, in history, the pendulum swings from stiff respectively to wild licentiousness (they’ve got William and Mary coming up).
I enjoyed the panorama of life at an interesting point in time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England

  • A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century
  • By: Ian Mortimer
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 11 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,529
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,076
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,066

Imagine you could travel back to the 14th century. What would you see? What would you smell? More to the point, where are you going to stay? And what are you going to eat? Ian Mortimer shows us that the past is not just something to be studied; it is also something to be lived. He sets out to explain what life was like in the most immediate way, through taking you to the Middle Ages. The result is the most astonishing social history book you are ever likely to read: evolutionary in its concept, informative and entertaining in its detail.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very, very interesting - highly recommended

  • By anthonyunionjackson on 06-05-09

A “Rough Guide” to the Middle Ages.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-11-18

It’s not so long since history was all about wars, or else tedious accounts of the lives of queens - mostly their clothes! (Rich posh folk!)
Mortimer takes another approach, which includes the ordinary people of the day, how they lived, in all walks of life. That is much more interesting.
I can assure you I will not be spending my next holiday in Mediaeval England! And not just because, as a Scot, I’d not be welcome.. There are far too many excessive methods of dealing with enemies, like me, but also with native offenders, for minor misdemeanours.
I found it informative and definitely un-boring. A breath of fresh air after so many “mini-series” worthy books.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Tombland

  • The Shardlake Series, Book 7
  • By: C. J. Sansom
  • Narrated by: Steven Crossley
  • Length: 37 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 526
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 484
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 479

The nominal king, Edward VI, is 11 years old. His uncle Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford, rules as Protector. The extirpation of the old religion by radical Protestants is stirring discontent among the populace while the Protector’s prolonged war with Scotland is proving a disastrous failure and threatens to involve France. Worst of all, the economy is in collapse, inflation rages and rebellion is stirring among the peasantry. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Shardlake again entangled in Tudor history

  • By Mr. S. Wallace-jones on 28-10-18

Shardlake in a new reign

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-11-18

We left Matthew Shardlake at the death of that monstrous king Henry VIII. He’s kept his head down (wisely, considering the number of powerful enemies he’s made), but gets roped in to investigating a shocking murder - but while Lady Elizabeth (future queen, still a teenager) wants him to do it properly, her chief advisor wants him to do as little as possible, to avoid scandal. Needless to say, that’s not Shardlake’s way.
As usual he finds himself in one of the most dangerous situations of the age, makes MORE enemies, and endangers his friends.
The story is multilayered, and there are some very nasty villains, both at the level of the murder investigation and in the wider situation.
What a wonderful discovery, a real place called Tombland, respectable residential district of Norwich, which played an important part in Kett’s Rebellion of 1549. Hence the book’s name, so if you are expecting vampires you’ll be disappointed- if not, you should enjoy it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful