Monday, January 8, 2018

Upcoming Exhibition: 'Beyond Ophelia' - A Celebration of Lizzie Siddal, Artist and Poet

I am here to help spread the exciting news of an upcoming exhibition in the United Kingdom about the art works of Elizabeth Siddal known as Lizzie Siddal. Anyone who loves the Pre-Raphaelites will instantly know who she was.  

How I wish I could go but I am in the United States. As always, I have the best and most loyal friends and followers here. I ask you if anyone attends this coming March and would like to send me jpg images, any written materials as well, I would be most grateful.  

Found below are text and image taken from the National Trust page. Also, linked below.

Lovers Listening to Music by Elizabeth Siddal, pen and ink drawing, 1854

'Beyond Ophelia' - A Celebration of Lizzie Siddal, Artist and Poet
Wightwick Manor, National Trust
1st March- 24th December 2018

Only the second solo exhibition of her artwork, this exhibition at Wightwick Manor reinstates Lizzie Siddal as an important and influential artist and poet.

A professional member of the Pre-Raphaelite artistic circle, she is, however, remembered today mainly as the model for the iconic Millais painting, Ophelia, and as wife and muse of the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
‘Beyond Ophelia’ examines Siddal’s style; subject matter; depiction of women; her influence on other artists; and the prejudice she faced as a professional female artist in the patriarchal Victorian art world.

In 1961, Lady Rosalie Mander, an art historian and biographer of the Pre-Raphaelites, and her husband Sir Geoffrey Mander, bought a large collection of Lizzie Siddal artworks at auction for Wightwick Manor. Wightwick’s collection of 12 Siddal artworks, along with loans of other drawings previously owned by the Manders’, are bought back together in this exhibition for the first time.
For more information on the upcoming exhibition,  National Trust UK

Friday, January 5, 2018

My review of The Real Guy Fawkes by Nick Holland

Guy Fawkes, born in York in 1570, is one of the key figures in British history, taking a central role in a plot that would have destroyed the ruling class and changed the nation forever. Today protesters wear his mask, families burn his effigy, and he is an instantly recognizable name and face. But just who was the real Guy Fawkes? In this new book, we take an exciting look at the flesh and blood person behind the myth. We find out what radicalized the man who was born a Protestant, and yet planned mass murder for the Catholic cause. The book takes a fresh look at Guy's early life in York and beyond, and examines how that led to him becoming a Catholic mercenary and a key member of the 1605 Gunpowder treason.

This fresh new biography of Guy's life removes the layers of complexity that can cloud the British history of this time: an era when fearful Catholics hid in tiny priest holes, government spies were everywhere, and even your closest friends could send you to be hung, drawn and quartered. Guy and his conspirators were prepared to risk everything and endanger everyone, but were they fanatics, freedom fighters, or fools? This explosive read, accompanied with beautiful illustrations, is accessible and engaging, combining contemporary accounts with modern analysis to reveal new motivations behind Guy's actions.

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Pen and Sword (November 21, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1526705087
  • ISBN-13: 978-1526705082

I am back with a brand new review. I hope everyone is having a good start to their new year.  I am proud to say that I will be posting my book reviews and research articles on varied subjects from time-to-time. 

Now, I realize that, "The Real Guy Fawkes" by Nick Holland is not nineteenth-century or Victorian era related. However, it is a newer release and a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Firstly, I must thank Casemate Publishers, based in Pennsylvania, for sending me a beautiful hardcover review copy to read.  

I don't think anyone will be surprised when I say that I know practically next to nothing about the man they called Guy Fawkes except he is celebrated one day out of the year in the United Kingdom and he was involved in the gunpowder plot. Other than that, I'm lost until I read this book.  

Author, Nick Holland through extensive research has managed to flesh out from the ashes a real life perspective on the man behind much of the myth. Guy Fawkes rises like a phoenix and develops fully formed within these 240 pages.
Illustration from, The Real Guy Fawkes by Nick Holland

Beginning in York, England, through sixteenth century religious politics between Catholics and Protestants readers are introduced to a very important man named, Martin Luther and a married couple, the parents of Guy Fawkes. A brilliantly religious scene is realistically set to bring forth the socio-economic times within how and where Guy Fawkes grew up to be the man who tried to bring down the House of Lords. Of course, there is so much more to this story.  One of Nick Holland's strength's as a writer, is his ability to highlight religious struggles within certain era's. This makes for dramatic, page turning reading. I always look forward to those chapters because I know I will learn new things about the geographic place and the said population group within a city, state, or country.  

Another very enjoyable aspect to Nick Holland's writing is the way he quotes verses of poetry or stanzas in chapter headings to present the theme or understanding layers of the past.  For instance, you will find the words of Edmund Spenser, Thomas Middleton, and others.  

I enjoyed reading about the marriage of Guy Fawkes a subject that was not much talked about or even known during his brief lifetime. It is much to the author's credit in the personal and human way he wrote about the love they shared. Especially when there was rarely much research to be found. Nick Holland has done a fantastic job researching Guy Fawkes and all aspects of his brief life. A Yorkshire Man himself, Nick Holland traveled to the surviving places where Guy Fawkes stayed and lived. He did this as a way of walking in the man's footsteps and what better way to gain a real personal perspective to his subject. He also scoured every museum archive that housed any remnant to do with Guy Fawkes. I was at the time and still am proud of the painstaking research the author went to in order to write, The Real Guy Fawkes. Well, he's been found here within these pages. I truly hope every reader enjoys the book as much as I have. 

To buy the book in the United States, Amazon

To buy the book in the United Kingdom, Amazon UK

To contact the American publishers,  Casemate Publishers

To contact the United Kingdom publishing company, Pen and Sword Books

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Thank you and Farewell

This will be my last and final blog post. Due to my work schedule and private life,
I sadly must bring this blog to a close.

It is not a decision I've made lightly, but it is necessary for the time being.

I will still write my book reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.

An incredible thank you to every single person for your years of loyalty
and steadfastness. I've had the very best time imaginable.
I've met the most gracious and wonderful friends as a result of starting this site
many years ago.

I will keep the website up just no more posts.

Kimberly Eve

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Review: Mr. Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense by Jenny Uglow

Edward Lear lived a vivid, fascinating, energetic life, but confessed, 'I hardly enjoy any one thing on earth while it is present.' He was a man in a hurry, 'running about on railroads' from London to country estates and boarding steamships to Italy, Corfu, India and Palestine. He is still loved for his 'nonsenses', from startling, joyous limericks to great love songs like 'The Owl and the Pussy Cat' and 'The Dong with a Luminous Nose', and he is famous, too, for his brilliant natural history paintings, landscapes and travel writing. But although Lear belongs solidly in the age of Darwin and Dickens - he gave Queen Victoria drawing lessons, and his many friends included Tennyson and the Pre-Raphaelite painters - his genius for the absurd and his dazzling word-play make him a very modern spirit. He speaks to us today.

Lear was a man of great simplicity and charm: children adored him, yet his humour masked epilepsy, depression and loneliness. Jenny Uglow's beautifully illustrated biography, full of the colour of the age, brings us his swooping moods, passionate friendships and restless travels/ Above all it shows how this uniquely gifted man lived all his life on the boundaries of rules and structures, disciplines and desires - an exile of the heart.  
Published October 5th 2017 by Faber & Faber
  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0571269540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571269549

'But stay here I won't, to be demoralised by years of mud & fog & gnats and rheumatism & small beer & stupid boors and coalfires and chloramorbusses and income taxes and Calvinists and steel forks and midnight atmospheres all the year round - I have had enough of it, & forthwith I am growing moustaches in sign of going elsewhere'. (Edward Lear)

Illustration for More Nonsense by Edward Lear

I found myself enjoying the company of Mr. Lear while getting to know him in Jenny Uglow's exquisite biography. He suffered from epilepsy and spoke with a lisp. He was always well aware of what he considered to be his shortcomings. He knew he was not an attractive looking man, plain, stout and attracted to men! Now, during the nineteenth-century, nobody came out and verbally said 'gay' or 'homosexual' his family and close friends in his inner circle knew of his 'male crushes' but it seemed to be unspoken.  

While reading Mr. Lear's diary and correspondence excerpts, that appeared within chapters throughout this book, I got the sense he led a life of chosen isolation as a way of protecting himself from pain and outside intrusions. His humour was wonderful. He sometimes made me belly laugh because he was quite funny and silly which I always appreciate. However, I couldn't shake this overwhelming undercurrent of sadness about him that resonated off the pages. For instance, he knew he 'needed to get a wife' but fear would stop him from proposing. He was afraid of passing on his epilepsy to any children that might be born. Also, it would've been a marriage of convenience and he would have kept up his 'male' relationships no doubt. Nevertheless, he never proposed to any female friends even though there were several opportunities. 

Beachy Head by Edward Lear

Edward Lear led a life of movement and momentum. He was a naturally gifted landscape artist. He loved nature and traveled throughout Europe,always keeping a diary, usually traveling with male friends: Alfred Tennyson and Frank Lushington (Lear's unreciprocated male crush).  I loved the travel chapters and the friendship chapters. He knew many 'now famous' British authors and artists of the day. The chapters covering Tennyson, Lushington, and his nonsense writings are some of my favorites. 

The Owl and the Pussycat

Edward Lear made a small living from his paintings he sold to galleries, sometimes contributions from friends. His nonsense limericks and poems were published in A Book of Nonsense that had three editions and sold 4,000 copies during his lifetime. Interestingly enough, he never became friends with another nonsense writer of the day Lewis Carroll. They knew of each other and had mutual friends but never met each other. Lewis Carroll is mentioned in a few chapters as well. There was a sweet story of how Edward Lear wrote his most famous poem, The Owl and the Pussycat for a little girl who was the daughter of friends of his. Lear would show up for dinner with friends become bored with the discussion of the news or politics and end up chatting to their sons and or daughters. After a brief chat with one little girl, Lear went home and wrote this story about interspecies relationships! It is a love poem you know! 

To purchase Mr. Lear by Jenny Uglow  Amazon UK

To purchase in the United States (it is not published in the U.S. yet but you can Pre-order),

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Halloween Post: My thoughts on A Haunted House by Virginia Woolf!

I have been reading my way through the novels of Virginia Woolf. Now with Halloween upon us tomorrow, I thought about a ghost story of a different kind...

What if you lived in an old house that you loved and knew was haunted? Not sure who the ghost was or why it stayed in your house? Perhaps, your life triggered a memory for that ghost. What do you mean ghosts don't exist? Oh, yes they do!  They watch us; they see and hear us all the time. They appear to us via sound, imagery and smell but you must remain aware and open minded to experience their visitations.

“Here we left it,” she said. And he added, “Oh, but here tool” “It’s upstairs,” she murmured. “And in the garden,” he whispered. “Quietly,” they said, “or we shall wake them.”

As I said, A Haunted House by Virginia Woolf is not a novel or a novella even it is one of her short stories published in a collection called Monday and Tuesday in 1921.  It is only a few pages in length. I am deeply touched by this short story. At the heart of it, is love. Love experienced between a man and woman, a married couple, who lived in the house before the author's current occupant; the female married protagonist.  The ghostly couple had the best-married years of life here together and have left their hearts here together along with their unforgotten treasured memories. The love between the current couple spurs their ghostly visitations and Virginia Woolf's conversations between the ghostly couple are just beautiful.

“Here we slept,” she says. And he adds, “Kisses without number.” “Waking in the morning—” “Silver between the trees—” “Upstairs—” “In the garden—” “When summer came—” “In winter snowtime—” The doors go shutting far in the distance, gently knocking like the pulse of a heart.

In this very short tale, any reader would be touched by the deep sentimentality and heartbreaking honestly of the true connection between man and woman (in this case) and the blessing of a happy life together. One which abides through the ages.

Leonard Woolf and Virginia Woolf with their dog Pinka

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Last Bronte: The Intimate Memoir of Arthur Bell Nicholls by S.R. Whitehead: A Review

He was Mr Brontë's right hand man and Charlotte's husband.

He fell in love with two sisters and revered a third while, to the troubled brother, he tried to be a friend. Arthur Bell Nicholls was the intimate witness to all the triumphs and tragedies of the Brontës' adult lives and The Last Brontë is his testament.

PaperbackFirst328 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by Ashmount Press
ISBN13 9780955283

I always struggle with my reviews. I want to always be fair and I try to remain open minded. Especially, when it comes to real figures such as The Bronte Sisters, their masterpieces, and of course, Mr. Nicholls.  I am a very strong admirer of Charlotte Bronte for as much of a strong-willed, opinionated woman as we can gather she was from her letters.  I have not researched into A.B. Nicholls life, so I don't know lf his letters survive.  The Last Bronte by S.R. Whitehead is a novel and he does wonderfully bring Arthur Bell Nicholls to life. His staunch religious beliefs, his working for Mr. Bronte, his friendships with all three sisters all found within these pages. It was interesting and very refreshing to read the male perspective for a change.  I enjoyed the novel very much and the author has a  lovely writing style. However, I was disappointed not to find a bibliography list, there was no notes section whatsoever, either. These two would have been very helpful for readers. Since there are lots of religious prayers cited within conversations between Nicholls and Bronte members. Also, the letters between Charlotte Bronte and Mr. Nicholls were wonderful to read but it started me thinking as to whether or not any of his letters survived? It would have been so nice to have a bibliography or notes section to flip back to. 
Arthur Bell Nicholls study as it looks today 
The Bronte Parsonage Museum
The Bronte Society

One of the facts we know about Arthur Bell Nicholls was he was the husband of Charlotte Bronte. Sadly, they were only together for nine months when she died early in her pregnancy. S.R. Whitehead, author, created a very interesting story line between Anne Bronte and Nicholls. In the novel, he falls for Anne romantically but he marries Charlotte for reasons I thought were a bit sad really. I don't want to ruin anything for readers but the marriage between Charlotte and Arthur doesn't happen until late in the novel and well let's just say if Anne Bronte is your favorite you will be very happy!  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

My Review of The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

I said my story had many beginnings, and the day the camera arrived was one of them. After all, without the camera, there wouldn’t have been any photographs. Without the camera, I wouldn’t have a story to tell. . . .
1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.
One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 1, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006249984X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062499844

Magical..., Enchanting..., Sublime ..., are just some of the words I could use to begin.  It's all true!   

Whether or not you are familiar with the story of the Cottingley fairies from the nineteenth-century doesn't really matter. I needed a book to read that would put me in a peaceful mood and a contemplative one at that. This is it for me!  Truly, The Cottingley Secret is a retelling of the controversial events of Frances Cottingley from Yorkshire, England and the very interesting photographs of a little girl in a wood playing with fairies!  

I didn't know the story at all but I have seen the photographs online over the years and always wondered what really happened. Author, Hazel Gaynor with incredible imagination and foresight has created two story lines connecting families across two decades.  I was hooked from the opening paragraph.  

When I hear the word Yorkshire, I think nature and beauty but I also immediately think of The Bronte Sisters.  What I loved about The Cottingley Secret was that it introduced me to a part of Yorkshire unfamiliar to me; Cottingley. I appreciate the author's adept usage of Yorkshire terms i.e., nowt meaning nothing  and a lot of thou's and thee's.  I have some friends in and around Yorkshire who I contacted to ask if the slang usage or terminology was authentic. Luckily for me, I was told a firm "yes".  

Also, I am relieved that Hazel Gaynor did not feel the urge to wrap up Olivia's present day story line in a big red bow with a happily ever after ending. I don't want to give anything away but there is a love interest named, Ross, whom I immediately loved.  You see, dear readers, sometimes in life you are not always promised a happy ending. For some people some obstacles cannot be cleared. Sometimes you have to start with friendship and see where that leads. 

I actually had a childhood experience that involved fairies that I never truly talked about. Suffice it to say, I wholeheartedly believe in them and they do exist. A huge thank you to Hazel Gaynor and Frances Griffiths for reminding me of my past childhood experiences. 

I hope everyone who wants to read a truly, beautifully written and engaging story, gives The Cottingley Secret a chance. You will not be disappointed. 

To purchase the book in the United States,  Amazon US

To purchase the book in the United Kingdom,  Amazon UK

For the author's website,  Hazel Gaynor

Upcoming Exhibition: 'Beyond Ophelia' - A Celebration of Lizzie Siddal, Artist and Poet

I am here to help spread the exciting news of an upcoming exhibition in the United Kingdom about the art works of Elizabeth Siddal known as...