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Mary Carnegie

UK
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  • F*** You Cancer

  • How to Face the Big C, Live Your Life and Still Be Yourself
  • By: Deborah James
  • Narrated by: Deborah James
  • Length: 5 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 6

Random House presents the audiobook edition of F*** You Cancer, written and read by Deborah James. As seen on BBC Breakfast. You are stronger than you know, more positive than you ever thought and you can still live with cancer. Whilst this book doesn’t advocate throwing everything down the kitchen sink, it will help you to navigate your feelings through the big C roller coaster, remind you that it’s okay to feel 100 different things in the space of a minute and, most importantly, show you that you can still live your life and be yourself with cancer.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • When life’s s**t, keep seeing the absurdity

  • By Mary Carnegie on 09-10-18

When life’s s**t, keep seeing the absurdity

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

Reviewed: 09-10-18

Honest appraisal of the effects of a cancer diagnosis; the author has an advanced bowel tumour, and she’s young, with small children, having previously had what the publicity would call a “healthy lifestyle”. Public Health (and some cancer charities) now like to encourage guilt in those who find themselves in an Oncology Unit (too fat, too sedentary, poor diet, children too late, HRT, enjoying a drink, smoking ever ,etc, etc.) I don’t know how gullible they think we are, quite honestly, since most cancers, like most things in life, result from many factors coming together, and there are many things over which we have no control. The author doesn’t fall for it!
She is open about the bad times, the humiliating symptoms, the fatigue, but manages to enjoy life when she can and share just how absurd some of it is. I’ve always maintained that the greatest disability of all, is the lack, or loss of a sense of humour. So often we can’t control what happens to us, but we can influence our attitude to s**t.
It’s not over till the fat lady sings...
She’s not talking about the present expectation that those who have cancer should be “brave”, heroically “battling”, and, if treatment does come to an end other than death, devote themselves to fundraising, volunteering and dedication to the “cause”, but about grabbing the moment (in good days) tolerating the bad days as well as possible, loving her children and wearing silly shoes and great lipstick.
She is sceptical about “miracle cures”, with good reason; there are always those who will exploit the desperate, those who reject scientific medicine, unfortunately sometimes in very dangerous, and expensive, ways.
In May I joined that club nobody chooses, but at a very junior level, not by age, but by diagnosis/stage, so I have different priorities, mainly avoiding extended treatment which might reduce recurrence risk of cancer while shortening my life, by promoting other diseases common in my family, and impairing its quality for certain. But cancer is not just one disease, but many...

  • Majestie

  • The King Behind the King James Bible
  • By: David Teems
  • Narrated by: Roger Mueller
  • Length: 7 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3

Majestie is a shared biography: that of the first Stuart King of England (James I) and the Bible that goes by his name. It is part tabloid, part history lesson, part speculation; but it’s all James. A biography of James Stuart is a study in paradox, one that entertains as much as it informs. James I waddles through history, sidewise and crablike. Intellectually astute, he can dazzle and charm with the polish of his rhetoric one minute, and speak with the vulgarity of a tavern bawd the next.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • An original take on James VI

  • By Mary Carnegie on 05-10-18

An original take on James VI

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

Reviewed: 05-10-18

Teems gives an irreverent but generally positive view of the life of “Jamie Saxt”, the king who abandoned his own country for the fleshpots of England, but commissioned the wonderful Bible translation I still read for pleasure (outmoded for study thanks to new discoveries).

  • The Six Wives of Henry VIII

  • By: Alison Weir
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Length: 22 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 288
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 260
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 254

This acclaimed best seller from popular historian Alison Weir is a fascinating look at the Tudor family dynasty and its most infamous ruler. The Six Wives of Henry VIII brings to life England’s oft-married monarch and the six wildly different but equally fascinating women who married him. Gripping from the first sentence to the last and loaded with fascinating details, Weir’s rich history is a perfect blend of scholarship and entertainment.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Nothing short of excellent

  • By mollymoon1 on 31-08-13

Decidedly dated

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

Reviewed: 04-10-18

This is a book from 1991 and is showing its age! Even the author admits this in her later “Children of Henry VIII” - new evidence continues to emerge (even when it comes to Ancient Rome, let alone an era closer to us.)
Weir spends too much time, as usual, describing clothing in minute detail and often seems to accept uncritically the lavish praise of royal personages by their obsequious courtiers, rarely questioning the veracity of those panegyrics even when other parts of the narrative point in another direction.
Sometimes events after 1991 make for unforeseen irony, as when she talks of Henry’s legislation making adultery of the spouse of a monarch or heir a capital offence, treason in fact, both parties to suffer hideous executions, and a few minutes later, compares some of Henry’s weddings to that of Charles and Diana!!
She has a very shaky grasp of the religious currents of the age, seemingly incapable of distinguishing Lutheranism from the proto-Protestantism of reform minded people in England. She is also more anglocentric than one would expect of a writer of history. She appears to consider it just that the English should bully the Scots and Irish, and has very unkind and unjustified comments to make about James IV, who naturally aligned with France, allies over centuries, against England, with which there had been only temporary treaties that neither side trusted. James, of course, had a sound claim to HIS throne, unlike Henry Tudor, and his amours had produced several sturdy sons, which must have annoyed Henry no end! Poetic justice that it was James’s Stuart dynasty, not the Tudors, who became the monarchs of both kingdoms, that bloodline enduring from the time of Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert I (the Bruce) until Queen Anne was succeeded by the German Georges.
Only towards the end of the book did I get a sense that she had an appropriate wry scepticism towards her subjects and the spin of official documents of the time.
Myself, I can’t see that Henry was ever handsome, and it would have been easy to appear intellectually gifted in an age when few were literate, and even fewer had access to books!

  • Thomas Cromwell

  • A Life
  • By: Diarmaid MacCulloch
  • Narrated by: David Rintoul
  • Length: 26 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 15

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Thomas Cromwell by Diarmid MacCulloch, read by David Rintoul. Thomas Cromwell is one of the most famous - or notorious - figures in English history. Born in obscurity in Putney, he became a fixer for Cardinal Wolsey in the 1520s. After Wolsey's fall, Henry VIII promoted him to a series of ever greater offices, and by the end of the 1530s he was effectively running the country for the King. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent, informative biography

  • By Mary Carnegie on 01-10-18

Excellent, informative biography

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

Reviewed: 01-10-18

I wonder if even the English understand the events of their confused and bloodthirsty “reformation”? Hilary Mantel’s novels have certainly whetted my appetite for this era in their history.
This is a witty and intelligent biography, well narrated by David Rintoul (as always), full of interesting anecdote and insights into the bizarre reign of the narcissistic, unpredictable, avaricious and vindictive Henry VIII, who had, unfortunately, more than 4/8 years to impose his changeable whims.
I feel I comprehend much more about the origins of the Anglican Church, which I found mysterious (as a Presbyterian turned Catholic).
MacCullough is unbiased in his account; he reveals the faults of his subject, and admits the better attributes of Cromwell’s enemies.
Thomas Cromwell was evidently a man of great ability, given the extent and length of his service to a very touchy, cruel and capricious king. (I can just imagine Henry VIII’s Twitter account; fortunately communication was slower then, but the penalties for incurring his wrath were deadly.)
I’m going to listen again soon- there were some memorable phrases I want to preserve.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Bloody Mary

  • By: Carolly Erickson
  • Narrated by: Corrie James
  • Length: 23 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23

Here is the tragic, stormy life of Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon. Her story is a chronicle of courage and faith, betrayal and treachery - set amidst the splendor, pageantry, squalor, and intrigue of 16th-century Europe. The history of Mary Tudor is an improbable blend of triumph, humiliation, heartbreak, and devotion - and Ms. Erickson recounts it all against the turbulent background of European politics, war, and religious strife of the mid-1500s.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good book - dodgy recording though.

  • By Deborah Wyman on 21-10-14

A tragic life, a tragic reign.

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

Reviewed: 20-09-18

Queen Mary I of England has inspired few books compared with her more glamorous contemporaries, so this volume is particularly valuable in filling a gap in the history of that violent, rapidly changing era.
Mary did burn a lot of people, even in the context of the Tudor enthusiasm for public executions of “heretics” and “traitors” - the inverted commas emphasise the fluctuations in definition of those offences against the English monarchs, but she did face constant menace throughout her life

  • The Mystery of Three Quarters

  • A Hercule Poirot Mystery
  • By: Sophie Hannah, Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Julian Rhind-Tutt
  • Length: 9 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 307
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 288
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 286

Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met. Poirot has also never heard of a Barnabas Pandy and has accused nobody of murder. Shaken, he goes inside, only to find that he has a visitor waiting for him - a man who also claims also to have received a letter from Poirot that morning, accusing him of the murder of Barnabas Pandy.... 

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Really Hard Work

  • By Emma C on 16-09-18

The best so far

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

Reviewed: 10-09-18

I liked this “new” Poirot more than its predecessors. The plot is unlikely but engaging, with twists and turns and a cast of characters with decided personalities.
I am glad Poirot has a more intelligent “Watson” in this resurrection- Hastings always annoyed me !
Poirot didn’t translate well to the post-War world, so it’s good that Hannah’s novels are situated in a less bureaucratic era, which removes some of the improbability; it’s easier to suspend disbelief for events before our lifetimes.

  • The Life of Elizabeth I

  • By: Alison Weir
  • Narrated by: Davina Porter
  • Length: 23 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 135
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 120
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 118

The New York Times best-selling author of The Six Wives of Henry VIII and The War of the Roses, historian Alison Weir crafts fascinating portraits of England’s infamous House of Tudor line. Here Weir focuses on Elizabeth I, also known as the Virgin Queen, who ascended to the throne at age 25 and never married, yet ruled for 44 years and steered England into its Golden Age.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A captivating look at Englands first great Queen

  • By Kindle Customer on 08-07-13

Engaging history

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

Reviewed: 10-09-18

Elizabeth Tudor knew how to “spin” her public image and create a myth, long before tabloid journalism began. I didn’t know a lot about her, other than her relationship with Mary, Queen of Scots, and the “headlines” of her extravagant clothing, rejection of marriage, length of reign and unusual status as a female monarch in a masculine world, but her life turned out to be more interesting than that. Given her upbringing and parentage, it’s no surprise that she wasn’t exactly a saint! However, she didn’t spend excessive money or human lives in vainglorious wars, and generally tried to improve her country’s economy through diplomatic relations with Europe, avoiding imperial expansion (if you exclude Ireland) and “sofa surfing” - her Progresses, whereby she sponged on her richer subjects every summer.
In comparison with her thoroughly obnoxious father and (probably) manipulative mother, it’s no surprise that the English considered her almost the secular equivalent of the Virgin Mary, whose veneration had been outlawed.
A complex woman, a survivor, and a story worth hearing.

  • Henry VIII: King and Court

  • By: Alison Weir
  • Narrated by: Phyllida Nash
  • Length: 25 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 84
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 79
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 77

This magnificent biography of Henry VIII is set against the cultural, social and political background of his court - the most spectacular court ever seen in England - and the splendour of his many sumptuous palaces. An entertaining narrative packed with colourful description and a wealth of anecdotal evidence, but also a comprehensive analytical study of the development of both monarch and court during a crucial period in English history.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Informative and absorbing biography

  • By Kirstine on 04-07-17

“England’s Nero”

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

Reviewed: 10-09-18

In spite on the moderately positive evaluation of the last chapter, the facts speak for themselves. Henry was a narcissistic ruler who nearly bankrupted his country, never accepted any responsibility for his actions, changed his mind as the mood took him, and considered himself almost a god.
The account of his profligate spending, vainglorious wars, rapidly changing religious doctrines and vicious persecution of all those he considered less than servile- Catholic or Protestant - is damning. Nero, Caligula or Stalin?
The moral: power should never be vested in one person to that extent. This holds true today, as it did then.

  • The Children of Henry VIII

  • By: Alison Weir
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Length: 15 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 90
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 74
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72

New York Times best-selling author Alison Weir is one of the most popular chroniclers of British and European royal history. In this fascinating book she sheds light on the scheming, backstabbing and brutality that plagued England after Henry VIII’s death. Filled with remarkable and sometimes shocking details, The Children of Henry VIII is an arresting narrative that brings the past to life and infuses it with all the flair of a riveting novel.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Book, Misleading Title

  • By Olivier on 27-09-12

Sibling rivalry and ambition

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

Reviewed: 01-09-18

The aristocracy of the time was largely inbred, which did not encourage producing healthy children and secure inheritance. Additionally, the legitimacy of the Tudor dynasty was disputable, relationships between the European nations were unstable, and the legacy of Henry VIII’s schism from the Catholic Church and persecution of both Protestants and Catholics had divided his subjects and his children.
No wonder things went wrong!
In spite of Mary’s later murderous attacks on those who did not agree with her religious beliefs, it’s difficult not to feel sorry for her, in view of her horrendous childhood, constant ill health, justified fear of conspiracy, complicated late marriage and obstetric misfortunes.
The dignity and integrity of the misused adolescent Lady Jane Grey, reluctant queen for a few days, presents a contrast to the machinations and duplicity of so many of her peers, including her own manipulative and unloving parents. It’s harder to like either Edward VI, or Elizabeth I of England. Still Weir gives a broad based account of the end of the short lived Tudor dynasty, beyond the standard popular fodder for romantic fiction and tv miniseries.

  • The Lost Tudor Princess

  • By: Alison Weir
  • Narrated by: Maggie Mash
  • Length: 20 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 57
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 54
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 54

Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox. Royal Tudor blood ran in her veins. Her mother was a Queen, her father an Earl, and she herself was the granddaughter, niece, cousin and grandmother of monarchs. Beautiful and tempestuous, she created scandal not just once but twice by falling in love with unsuitable men. Fortunately the marriage arranged for her turned into a love match.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • One of Weir's best

  • By Jim on 17-10-15

How to survive a dangerous heritage

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

Reviewed: 01-09-18

The life of Margaret Douglas, or Stewart, was even more eventful, and ultimately important, to the troubled history of Scotland and England from the 16th century to the present day than that of any of the four Tudor monarchs, whose reigns she endured.
Niece of Henry VIII, aunt and mother-in-law of Mary, Queen of Scots, daughter of the dowager queen of Scots, Margaret Tudor, and her second husband, Earl of Angus, a member of the tumultuous Douglas family, she survived refugee status on both sides of the border, ill advised romances, imprisonments (the Tower of London quite a few times) from the reign of Henry to die of natural causes in the time of Elizabeth, maintained a long and happy marriage with Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox (a traitor to his native land, war criminal by our standards) in spite of her support for the Catholic cause, her outspokenness, conspiracies and financial irregularities, to marry her unpleasant son Henry Darnley to Queen Mary, so becoming grandmother to James VI & I, and so matriarch to UK royals to this day.
So many other women connected with the Tudors, Stewarts and Douglases came to violent early deaths, that her story has been largely overshadowed by more romantic legends, but Alison Weir has done well to chronicle her life, which casts much light on that unsettled era.
Fortunately for Scotland, the crowns were not united by Henry VIII’s bloody attempts to marry his son Edward VI to Mary, Queen of Scots (the “Rough Wooing”) which would have made us slaves, but by the accession of Margaret’s grandson to the English throne, ultimately allowing us to retain a measure of autonomy and much self-respect.