“Hanna Reitsch and Melitta von Stauffenberg were talented, courageous, and strikingly attractive women who fought convention to make their names in the male-dominated field of flight in 1930s Germany. With the war, both became pioneering test pilots and were awarded the Iron Cross for service to the Third Reich. But they could not have been more different and neither woman had a good word to say for the other.
Hanna was middle-class, vivacious, and distinctly Aryan, while the darker, more self-effacing Melitta came from an aristocratic Prussian family. Both were driven by deeply held convictions about honor and patriotism; but ultimately, while Hanna tried to save Hitler’s life, begging him to let her fly him to safety in April 1945, Melitta covertly supported the most famous attempt to assassinate the Führer. Their interwoven lives provide vivid insight into Nazi Germany and its attitudes toward women, class, and race.
Acclaimed biographer Clare Mulley gets under the skin of these two distinctive and unconventional women, giving a full—and as yet largely unknown—account of their contrasting yet strangely parallel lives, against a changing backdrop of the 1936 Olympics, the Eastern Front, the Berlin Air Club, and Hitler’s bunker. Told with brio and great narrative flair, The Women Who Flew for Hitler is an extraordinary true story, with all the excitement and color of the best fiction.” (Amazon blurb)
Why read The Women Who Flew for Hitler?
Ooh! Well yesterday’s book was Fly Girls about American women and then today I’ve got this book in front of me (well on my screen) looking at German women at the same time. Synchronicity? Both name 1936 as key years in the stories. I definitely need to read these two together… Anyone else see novel potential in all these lady aviators?
Monarchs: they’re just like us. They entertain their friends and eat and worry about money. Henry VIII tripped over his dogs. George II threw his son out of the house. James I had to cut back on the alcohol bills.
In Behind the Throne, historian Adrian Tinniswood uncovers the reality of five centuries of life at the English court, taking the reader on a remarkable journey from one Queen Elizabeth to another and exploring life as it was lived by clerks and courtiers and clowns and crowned heads: the power struggles and petty rivalries, the tension between duty and desire, the practicalities of cooking dinner for thousands and of ensuring the king always won when he played a game of tennis.
A masterful and witty social history of five centuries of royal life, Behind the Throne offers a grand tour of England’s grandest households.
Why read Behind the Throne?
Ha ha. Did you read that blurb? “Monarchs: they’re just like us.” Um no, not really! But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot to deal with and that a lot of that stuff isn’t the same old rubbish that ordinary mortals deal with OR, more to the point, that this isn’t a great idea for a book. Because it is!
Anything ‘behind the scenes’ is like meat and drink to a historical novelist. I think this book could be a real gem and can’t wait to get reading it.
“King Richard III remains one of the most controversial figures in British history. Matthew Lewis’s new biography aims to become a definitive account by exploring what is known of his childhood and the impacts it had on his personality and view of the world. He would be cast into insecurity and exile only to become a royal prince before his tenth birthday.
As Richard spends his teenage years under the watchful gaze of his older brother, Edward IV, he is eventually placed in the household of their cousin, the Earl of Warwick, remembered as the Kingmaker; but as the relationship between a king and his most influential magnate breaks down, Richard is compelled to make a choice when the House of York fractures. After another period in exile, Richard returns to become the most powerful nobleman in England. The work he involves himself in during the years that follow demonstrates a drive and commitment but also a dangerous naïveté.
When crisis hits in 1483, it is to Richard that his older brother turns on his death bed. The events of 1483 remain contentious and hotly debated, but by understanding the Richard who began that year, it will become clearer what drove some of his actions and decisions. Returning to primary sources and considering the evidence available, this new life undoes the myths and presents a real man living in tumultuous times.” (Amazon blurb)
Why read Richard III?
Okay so I have always have a soft spot for Richard III beginning from when I was a teenager reading The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman. I liked Richard so much that I named my hamster after him: Richard III, the Last Plantagent King (Plantagenet for short). And I’ve read a couple of other excellent stories over the years where Richard gets much more favourable treatment than he received at the hands of Shakespeare. For anyone interested, I’d recommend Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey – a detective fiction take on the Princes in the Tower question. And for those who like a little humour in their historical fiction, Jennifer Wilson’s Kindred Spirits: Tower of London is a real gem of a book.
In terms of this non-fiction treatment of Richard, I’m very intrigued by the subtitle, Loyalty Binds Me. When I think of his family, it’s not loyalty that springs to mind, so I’m interested to see how that plays out in this new book.
“At the end of the Tudor era, two queens ruled one island. But
sixteenth-century Europe was a man’s world and powerful voices believed
that no woman could govern. All around Mary and Elizabeth were
sycophants, spies and detractors who wanted their dominion, their favour
and their bodies.
Elizabeth and Mary shared the struggle to be
both woman and queen. But the forces rising against the two regnants,
and the conflicts of love and dynasty, drove them apart. For Mary,
Elizabeth was a fellow queen with whom she dreamed of a lasting
friendship. For Elizabeth, Mary was a threat. It was a schism that would
end in secret assassination plots, devastating betrayal and,
eventually, a terrible final act.
Mary is often seen as a defeated or tragic sovereign, but Rival Queens reveals instead how she attempted to reinvent queenship and the monarchy – in one of the hardest fights in royal history.” (Amazon blurb)
Why read Rival Queens?
I can’t think of a single reason why I wouldn’t want to read this book! First, I am Scottish. Until I was six I lived in a council house directly opposite Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. Every day we walked past the gates of Holyrood, a palace where Mary lived and where her favourite musician, David Rizzio, was murdered. I’m not sure how old I was the first time we visited the palace but the plaque where Rizzio was murdered made a big impression on me.
Mary’s story is full of drama: from the murder of Darnley to her relationship with Bothwell, from her imprisonment in Fotheringay, to the plots and then her death on the command of her cousin Queen Elizabeth. Anyone interested in royal history should want to know more about these two Queens.
If the blurb is to believed, Kate Williams’ book is not to be missed. I love this publicity banner too, which I’ve just lifted from Amazon because it says it all: