Tag Archives: History

Author Interview: ‘The Lost Artist: Love Passion War’ by Eric Houston

About the Book:

A Search for a Famed Illustrator Uncovers a World War II Hero

1934: A 13-year-old Jewish boy escapes Nazi Germany to become the highest decorated WWII Palestinian (future

Israeli) soldier in the British Army.

2010: A top Israeli computer scientist searches for the favorite artist of her youth.

From the rise of the Nazi Party through the formation of the State of Israel, across a sea of time, their worlds collide.


An esteemed researcher at IBM Israel joined a sixty-year search to discover the identity of the illustrator of “the pearl of Israeli children’s literature,” And There Was Evening, a bestseller and timeless classic, now in its 42nd edition. Fred Hausman, the celebrated, but unknown, artist also happened to be the highest decorated WWII Palestinian soldier in the British Army, the only one to earn the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), the highest gallantry award for a non-British citizen in the British Army, making it the most important WWII medal to Israel.

The present and the past meld in The Lost Artist: Love Passion War (Part 1) written by Fred Hausman’s son, Eric Hausman-Houston. The Israeli researcher’s quest to find her favorite illustrator serves as a present-day backdrop to tell Fred Hausman’s harrowing story of escaping Nazi Germany at age thirteen and traveling alone to Palestine.

There, he befriended an untamable horse and King Abdullah of Jordan. He joined the Haganah and he helped save illegal Jewish immigrants. The Lost Artist chronicles Hausman’s time in the British Army up until the decisive moment of WWII’s North Africa Campaign, the El Alamein line, 65 miles west of Alexandria, Egypt, July 3, 1942, when the Nazis had won the war but didn’t know it.

Young Hausman’s journey offers personal insight into the history of Palestine and Israel, the rise of the Nazi Party, Zionism, the Holocaust, WWII, and the seeds of our present day Middle East Crisis. The Lost Artist exposes neglected history and government coverups, including British atrocities in Palestine to both Arabs and Jews, why Winston Churchill had to perpetuate the Rommel myth, and how German resistance working at a Berlin radio station gave their lives to stop the Nazis from winning the war.

The Quest for the Medal Continues to this Day

Fred Hausman’s Distinguished Conduct Medal was unlawfully sold to a British lord under false terms. At the end of the book, there is a bonus chapter with information on these seedy misdoings, followed by documentation of Eric Hausman-Houston’s correspondence with Scotland Yard, the British Ministry of Defense, DNW Auction House, and billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft, who is currently in possession of the stolen medal.

Part History, Part Mystery

 

Review:

The Lost Artist: Love Passion War (Part 1)

“A page-turner! Revealing important insight into little-known history of pre-state Palestine and World War II, this fascinating journey of a remarkable man is a rip-roaring story from beginning to end. I recommend it to everyone.”
Rabbi Mark S. Golub, JBS TV, jbstv.org

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

In the early 80’s, I was offered a Julliard scholarship by Abbey Simon and was signed by Global Records, who changed my name from Hausman to Houston. The producers of my first album, Beethoven Sonatas: Moonlight Pathetique Appassionata, won the Grammy that year. I did over a hundred concerts to promote my second album, Tonight and Forever. Being responsible for all my travel, I went into serious debt. Life as a D-list concert pianist was sort of a nightmare. Since I couldn’t afford to play, I planned to just sit out my four-year contract. I then wrote my first play, Playing with Fire, which was picked up by Earl Graham of the Graham Agency and optioned for Off-Broadway by Lois Deutchman, and I never went back to the piano.

My second play, Sweet Deliverance, received some great reviews from regional productions and was the last play optioned by legendary Broadway producer, Alexander Cohen. When Alex suddenly died, it was held up in two-year contracts. Gerry Cohen, the brilliant TV director, then produced and directed my next play, Becoming Adele, which had won the Key West Theater Festival Award. He did an amazing job. It got rave reviews in LA and was optioned by Warner Bros. Television.

I then worked in Hollywood for a bit, but my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. In order to move back to New York City to be closer to family, I began ghostwriting. The Lost Artist: Love Passion War (Part 1) is the first book I’ve written in my own voice and name, which was the hardest writing I’d ever done. It felt like the absence of a voice. But I got used to it, and it really helped me get over that hurdle.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

A quiet place in the afternoon with no internet.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

They always seem to come when I’m not looking. One of my biggest surprises was when I received an email from Einat Amitay saying, “You may not know this, but your father is very famous in Israel.” At first, I thought it was a scam, but as I read on she talked about a children’s book that my father had illustrated, And There Was Evening (Vayehi Erev, ויהי ער). I knew the book because my father had brought it back from his one trip to Israel in the early 90’s. In early 1948, he had turned in the illustrations right before leaving Palestine/Israel for New York City and never gave it any more thought.

When he showed me the book, he said in disbelief, “It’s a miracle. The book was actually published, and this one little bookstore I happened to walk into somehow got the leftover copies from the 1950’s printing.”

I told Einat that during our first Skype conversation. She laughed, saying, “He could’ve walked into any bookstore and found it. It’s everywhere.” It never crossed his mind that the book could have had more than one printing, much less become a bestseller and timeless classic, now in its 42nd edition, referred to as “the pearl of Israeli children’s literature.” After a sixty-year ongoing search for the artist, Einat, while dying of breast cancer, had joined the mission and, against all odds, finally solved the mystery.

I knew my father had a remarkable story, but I felt too far removed to write it. Besides what he told me, what did I know about the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany, Palestine before the State of Israel, WW II’s North African Campaign, the No. 2 Commando, etc.? But the story was now too much for me to resist.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I always like to have an idea of the three acts, beginning, middle and end, before I start writing, but that’s just a rough blueprint. The characters tend to take over. I wouldn’t want to make them do anything false just to move the story in a certain direction. Since my father’s story is a memoir, it was just a matter of realizing it. His story is incredible enough. I didn’t want to alter any of the facts.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

I love great novels and biographies, such as Dr. Zhivago and The Agony and the Ecstasy (even with its inaccuracies). They pull me into the history, pushing me to find out more. I felt that my father’s story had that potential, and there was nothing else quite like it.

The history of Israel is important to me. It’s a part of my father story. But the Middle East crisis affects us all. I was hoping that the reader could experience this important history through his remarkable journey. Perhaps most of all, I wanted to write a book that I would love to read.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

In my opinion, the actor to play my father hasn’t been born yet. In truth, it would just be very strange for me to watch an actor playing my father.

However, for the part of Einat Amitay, any of these actors would be terrific:

Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Hilary Swank, Kate Winslet, Emma Stone, Angelina Jolie, Drew Barrymore, Michelle Williams, Naomi Watts, Rebecca Hall, Keira Knightley, Cate Blanchett, Marion Cortillard, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Jessica Parker, Amy Adams… to name a few.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I rarely go anywhere without a book. The authors that had the most influence on me early on were probably Jane Austen, John le Carré, Daphne du Maurier, Graham Greene and Moss Hart, to name a few. Two I’ve recently discovered are Dov Zeller and Lara Lillibridge.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

Commando: Winning WW2 Behind Enemy Lines by James Owen and Indianapolis by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic, about the sinking of the great American battle ship. I also recently had the chance to read two wonderful new writers: Dov Zeller’s The Right Thing To Do At The Time and Book of Hats and Lara Lillibridge’s Girlish.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

It’s amazing that Pride and Prejudice was written over 200 years ago. There are so many reasons why it’s a timeless masterpiece; perfect three-act structure (not coined until 1979 by Syd Field), compelling drama with characters you care about in unfair situations, brilliant dialogue that is always true to the characters, and, of course, her timeless sense of humor that flows so naturally from the characters.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Write shitty. Trying to write brilliantly can be paralyzing. Keep the bar low. Take the pressure off. Write shitty, and if you’re good, you’ll work at it until it’s done. So write shitty, and you’re sure to succeed.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

Facebook: www.facebook.com/erichausman.houston

Extract:

From the pages of The Lost Artist: Love Passion War (Part 1)

2009

Amidst all of this chaos, bombs, killing, starvation, there were artists creating children’s books. Did they even consider themselves artists? At the time, there was no Hebrew word for “illustrator.” They were just people who drew. She wondered how someone could even publish and distribute children’s books as if there were no war going on. And There Was Evening has no death. It is innocent and very humane, as were all Israeli children’s books of that time. They seemed to have understood that terrifying witches, giants, and monsters had no place for children in need of relief from the nightmare.

1934

A few weeks after Fritz’s thirteenth birthday, he left the protection of his loving family in Germany to make the long trip alone to Palestine, not knowing when or if he would ever return. On the day of his arrival, the ‘Disturbances’ broke out as Arab revolutionaries attacked several buses transporting Jews. The Haganah (Underground Jewish paramilitary) retaliated while the controlling British tried to maintain order with an iron fist. At the Ben Shemen Youth Village, Fritz’s destination, teachers hid with children in shelters as Arab snipers shot at the school. The bus driver assured Fritz, “Not to worry. This happens. Welcome to the Promised Land.” Fritz showed no emotion. Having experienced the rise of the Nazi party, he was accustomed to living under constant threat.

1936

The car signaled by flashing its lights three times. Haim signaled back with his flashlight. He then jumped on Amon and galloped to them. With only a crescent moon for guidance, Haim could just make out a darkly dressed woman and boy with a suitcase standing in the path. He pulled on the reigns of the harness whispering, “Whoa!” The boy and woman looked terrified as Amon came to a halt practically on top of them.

Without taking the time to comment on the horse, the woman whispered anxiously in Hebrew, “Do you speak Polish?”

“No,” Haim whispered back as he dismounted.

The woman continued, “You won’t understand each other then, but no matter. The less spoken the better. He has eaten but will need food in the morning. His cousin will pick him up here tomorrow at 10:00 am.”

Haim asked apprehensively, “In daylight?”

The woman nodded, “It is less suspicious for a woman and boy to travel then. She will have another boy’s papers in case they are stopped. We had no choice but to travel tonight as the British have begun searching homes along the coast.” Haim could just make out the silhouettes of other yolim in the car.

On the main road, he spotted the lights of a British patrol heading their way. To keep Amon quiet, he covered his eyes with a cloth while stroking his neck. The woman put an anxious arm around the boy’s shoulder as the lights of the patrol neared the path. If the patrol spotted the car, Haim was ready to put the boy on Amon and gallop off with him.

They held their breaths as the patrol slowly passed. Exhaling with relief, the woman determinedly whispered, “When you see his cousin, you will ask her if she is lost. She will say that she is looking for her little brother who has run away. Do not turn him over unless she says that. Do you understand?”

Haim nodded. As she turned to leave, Haim asked, “Can he ride a horse?” The woman asked the boy in Polish. The boy shook his head “no.” Haim shrugged, “It may be a good time to learn.”

The woman translated, and the boy looked up at Amon terrified. The woman advised, “He made it this far. Please don’t kill him now.”

1939

“Not returning to Germany means losing everything. That was made clear when we received papers for this trip. And there are three good German families waiting like vultures to take over our home.”

Though Fritz had been determined not to fight, having listened quietly, he now asked, “So, you would die for a house?”

Julius snapped back, “Or we die of starvation in Italy, Palestine, America or God knows where! You think Germans are the only ones to hate Jews?! If we leave Germany now, we have nothing!”

Fritz argued, “You won’t starve! There are six thousand Swiss francs sitting in a bank account in Geneva! Take it and save yourselves!”

Julius was adamant. “That money is yours! It is your future! I will die before touching that!”

Fritz yelled back, “No, you and mother will die! I don’t need it. In Palestine, we share. If you don’t take it, I’ll give it away!”

Hearing that, Julius exploded, “Give it away? Give it away?! You will do no such thing! You are a child! I am your father! I am responsible for this family! You will do as I say! End of discussion!”

Fritz, seething, was silenced by Lotte’s glare as she shook her head at him. Julius, regaining his composure, attempted to lift the dark cloud engulfing the room. “Please. Things are not so dire. There are over half a million Jews in Germany. The Nazis cannot kill half a million Jews. And if it is any consolation, I promise, should things get any worse, mother and I will leave.”

Calming down, Fritz respectfully asked, “Have you considered the job on the Rothschild Estate in Palestine? Arabs and Jews live peacefully together there, so you’ll have no trouble with insurgents.”

Julius scoffed, “Communists! I should work the rest of my life for nothing, and then what?!”

Fritz assured, “You’ll be taken care of. And if you don’t like it, you can go back to Germany. View it as a holiday until all this passes over.”

Julius sardonically stated, “The Nazis have promised a thousand-year Reich. That is quite some holiday.”

1942

Shells exploded around them as they fired their guns, discharging ear-piercing missiles back towards the enemy troops. When the barrage quieted down, they moved forward, surprised to receive no response from the enemy.

Making their way up to the wide, circular rim of the depression, there was still no shellfire. Believing to have the German troops in retreat, the plan was to cross the depression to go after them. But topping the rim and entering into the cauldron, the sky suddenly exploded.

Rommel, predicting their every move, had earlier fired the first barrage and quickly withdrew his forces beyond the depression’s far rim, causing the retaliating British shells to land on empty ground. Now ready and waiting, Rommel lured the British into a trap.

About the Author:

The Lost Artist author Eric Hausman-Houston has been a concert pianist, playwright, and ghostwriter.

As a concert pianist in the 1980s, Eric Hausman-Houston was offered a Julliard scholarship by Abbey Simon. He was signed by Global Records, who changed his name from Hausman to Houston. His first album, Beethoven Sonatas: Moonlight Pathetique Appassionata, received critical acclaim and won the Grammy for Best Producers. To promote his second album, Tonight and Forever, a collection of popular classical piano pieces, Houston went on a one hundred concert tour.

Responsible for all travel expenses, he went into debt. Planning to sit out his four-year contract, Houston wrote his first play, Playing with Fire. Playing with Fire was picked up by Earl Graham of the Graham Agency and optioned for Off-Broadway by Lois Deutchman, producer of Oil City Symphony. Houston never returned to the piano.

Houston’s play, Becoming Adele, the recipient of the Key West Theater Festival Award, was produced and directed by Gerry Cohen at the Court Theatre in Los Angeles, produced Off-Broadway by the Gotham Stage Company with director Victor Maog, and optioned by Warner Bros. Television. His play, Sweet Deliverance, was given an extended run at the Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles, and was the last play optioned by legendary Broadway producer, Alexander Cohen. Edward B. Morgan of Washington County News called Sweet Deliverance “the funniest play to come out of the Barter Theatre.”

After having worked as a ghostwriter, The Lost Artist marks Houston’s first book written in his own voice and name.

All proceeds from The Lost Artist will go to reuniting Fred Hausman’s Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), and other medals stolen from within the British Ministry of Defense, with their rightful owners. The Hausman medals will then be donated to an orphanage in Israel so that they may sell the Hausman medals to a museum.

Join in the journey of an incredible young man and the determined woman who would not give up her search for him.

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Author Interview: ‘Seven Days of Infamy’ by Nicholas Best

Pearl Harbor Across the World

About the Book:

December 7, 1941: One of those rare days in world history that people remember exactly where they were, what they were doing, and how they felt when they heard the news.

Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable, and James Cagney were in Hollywood. Kurt Vonnegut was in the bath, and Dwight Eisenhower was having a nap. Kirk Douglas was a waiter in New York, getting nowhere with Lauren Bacall. Ed Murrow was preparing for a round of golf in Washington. In Seven Days of Infamy, historian Nicholas Best uses fascinating individual perspectives to relate the story of Japan’s momentous attack on Pearl Harbor and its global repercussions in tense, dramatic style. But he doesn’t stop there.

Instead, Best takes readers on an unprecedented journey through the days surrounding the attack, providing a snapshot of figures around the world―from Ernest Hemingway on the road in Texas to Jack Kennedy playing touch football in Washington, Jawaharlal Nehru in India, Ho Chi MInh in French Indo-China, Mao Tse-tung training his forces in Yun’an and the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe cheering as the United States entered the war.

Offering a human look at an event that would forever alter the global landscape, Seven Days of Infamy chronicles one of the most extraordinary weeks in world history.

 

What people are saying:

“A brisk, suspenseful World War II narrative from a proven storyteller.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Outstanding… Excellent… The real strength of his book – what makes it in many ways the most interesting of these three [Pearl Harbor books] – lies in its taut sense of the wider impact the Japanese attacks had internationally, from Ottawa to Canberra.”
The Christian Science Monitor

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I grew up in colonial Kenya and was educated there, in England, and at Trinity College, Dublin. My father was a feckless waster with no sense of responsibility. I had a very difficult childhood because he didn’t look after his children properly.

He was just like Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield. That’s no coincidence. An American academic once made a study of it and found that a significant number of American novelists had a father who didn’t take care of them properly. Neglected children are forced to retreat into themselves, creating an alternative reality in their heads. That’s where writing comes from.

I was working as a journalist in London when I wrote my first novel. It was rejected everywhere, thank God! I was walking past Secker and Warburg’s office one day when I saw a history of the British in Malaya in the window. Nobody had ever written one about the British in Kenya, so I dropped a note in saying that I could do it.

I was invited to meet David Farrer, a wonderful old man who had been at Seckers for most of his working life. I didn’t know it then, but he was one of the top publishers in London. He had published George Orwell’s Animal Farm when he was starting out, taking a chance on a novel that no one else would touch. Now, at the end of his career, he took a chance on me. Happy Valley: The Story of the English in Kenya was my first published book. I followed it up with a first novel and have never looked back.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

At my desk, after breakfast every morning. It’s a job, not a hobby.

I’ve written most of my books in a 17th century barn across the drive from my house outside Cambridge. There’s a 400-year-old skeleton under the floorboards in the corner. It’s a cat, buried there when the barn was built to ward off evil spirits. Doesn’t work for the Inland Revenue.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

This is the question authors are always asked. Some reply that they would go there more often if they knew. I don’t know either. It’s mostly just a question of looking at a familiar subject from an unfamiliar angle. Either that, or click on ideas.com.

My short story The Souvenir beat more than 1,200 other entries to be long-listed for the inaugural Sunday Times/EFG Bank prize, at £30,000, the biggest short story award in the world. It’s a humorous account of a convention of American salesmen sailing down the Amazon and buying fake souvenirs from the natives.

It was inspired by a photo of an American sales convention that I saw in a magazine. The salesmen were all wearing red sparkly dinner jackets, except for the star salesmen, who had exceeded their targets that year. As a reward, they were allowed to swagger about in gold lamé jackets, while everyone else watched in envy. I thought that was worth a laugh.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

Both. You have to have a pretty good idea of where a book is going, particularly at the end. You shouldn’t start writing until you know what the last page is going to be.

I always have a plan, but I don’t necessarily stick to it, if something better turns up. Good ideas often come to you while you’re writing.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

I’ve written novels and short stories, some serious, some satirical. Tennis and the Masai was serialized on BBC Radio 4 and gets film inquiries from time to time.

I’d like to write more fiction, but my history books are better paid and come with a substantial advance up-front. They sell all over the world. I’m drawn by the genre that pays the bills!

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

I was recently in the offices of Joe Wright (director of Atonement, Anna Karenina, Pride and Prejudice), surrounded by huge pictures of Keira Knightley. We were discussing another project, but what I would really like to see filmed is my Kindle No 1 best-seller Point Lenana.

It’s on Kindle because it’s a short story (actually a film treatment), too short to publish as a book. The San Francisco Chronicle gave it a rave review, calling it ‘a Hollywood blockbuster in miniature’.

Point Lenana is about a Kenya settler’s daughter who falls in love with a good German in September 1939. He has come from Germany to climb Mount Kenya. Fifty years later, his frozen body is discovered perfectly preserved in the ice on the mountain. He is still young and handsome when he is brought down. She is an old woman nursing the memories of their wartime affair when she goes to see the body and say goodbye.

Keira is a dead ringer for the girl I wrote it about, so she’d be ideal for the part.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I read everything when I was younger (I was the Financial Times’s fiction critic for ten years), but very little now. The older I get, the more I see the flaws in other people’s writing. Some of our literary lions enjoy stellar reputations, but I don’t know why. Their books seem unremarkable to me. You look at their reputations, then you read their books and wonder if you’re dreaming.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

I’ve discovered Jane Austen. I had to do Emma for A level and have avoided her work ever since. But I loved the BBC’s Persuasion, the version starring Amanda Root. I’m reading the book now to see how they adapted it for film.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

I have three. Gone with the Wind for a terrific story; Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop for the humour in the writing; Robert Ruark’s Something of Value, because it’s a novel about the Kenya of my childhood. Every halfway pretentious author needs to name at least one book that no one else has heard of!

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Apart from ‘Don’t’? Make sure that you have another source of income… a job, a husband, anything that will pay the bills.

Don’t try to get published before you’re 30. Your writing will be immature before then. Use the time before then to have experiences and learn the job. Work as a reporter, magazine writer, script editor or whatever until your writing is good enough for you to take the plunge.

Avoid the temptation to self-publish online. It will come back to haunt you.

Remember that most writers have a seven-year window in which they do their best work and enjoy their greatest success. The rest of their career is either before that time or after it. Literary London is full of one-hit wonders desperately hoping for a second coming.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

I’m on Twitter and Facebook, but the best place to see me on my website.

Website: www.nicholasbest.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authornicholasbest

Twitter: @NickBestauthor

 

 

About the Author:

Nicholas Best grew up in Kenya and was educated there, in England and at Trinity College, Dublin. He served in the Grenadier Guards and worked as a journalist before becoming a fulltime author.

Formerly a literary critic for the Financial Times, he writes both fiction and non-fiction and is translated into many languages. His novel Tennis and the Masai was serialized on BBC Radio 4. His short story The Souvenir was long-listed for the Sunday Times-EFG Bank £30,000 award, the biggest short story prize in the world.

Nicholas Best lives in Cambridge.

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Book Review: ‘Henrietta Maria’ by Dominic Pearce

Title: Henrietta Maria

Published: 15th November 2015

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Author: Dominic Pearce

 

Synopsis:

At the heart of the English Civil War stands the wife of Charles I, Henrietta Maria. She came to England in 1625 at the age of fifteen, undermined by her greedy French entourage, blocked by the forceful Duke of Buckingham and weighed down by instructions from the Pope to protect the Catholics of England. She was only a girl, and she had hardly a winning card in her hand; yet fifteen years later she was the terror of Parliament.

We see Henrietta Maria in the portraits of van Dyck, and hear her voice in the letters which she wrote to her husband and many others. She is a historic queen who inherited from her father, the great French statesman Henri IV, undying convictions about royal and divine authority and about just governance. There was always brutal violence in the background of her life from the early moments (her father was assassinated when she was six months old); she lived through civil war both in England and in France (the Fronde); she was tortured by the fate of Charles I; but her spirit – and her family – prevailed. Two of her children sat on the throne of England (Charles II and James II) and three of her grandchildren followed them (William III, Mary II and Anne). Her life is a story of elegance, courage, wit, energy and family devotion on a grand scale.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2017 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A History book.

A new and enticing biography of a Queen who has stayed in the background through many discussions on Charles I, their son Charles II and the English Civil war. Dominic takes the reader on a journey through her younger life before she became a player in a much more dangerous royal game in England.

From the start Henrietta Marie’s life was going to be a controversial one with religion and political gain always playing a part in the path she was being led down. At the age of fifteen she was a pawn placed in a high position when she became the wife of Charles I, then Charles, Prince of Wales. The marriage had its set backs from the very beginning with religion being the key player. She was Catholic and he Protestant. Part of her dowry always stated that this was never going to change and this is what sent fear into many a political mind. Their marriage, after a few set backs to being with, well she was just a child and couldn’t speak a word of English, seemed to be a happy one after the birth of their children. She was a very loyal woman and fiercely protective of her children and her husband.

When her husband became king you would think that they would be safe from persecution but the fear many had over her control of the king was great. It wouldn’t take long for whispers of dislike to get louder and have more of a political backing, mainly when they tried to impeach her. Which would soon bring about the start of a civil war. It was at these most difficult times that many would think she would cower and hide but she just stepped forward to help her husband take back control of the country they were losing. She was condemned and attacked at every turn but still carried on to see things through. Having the means to help where she could with other countries. She was a daughter of France so they were always there to help her, just not always as much for her husband. An interesting view on the English Civil War and the part the she played in it, from close up and a distance.

The war would end and the lose was great with the death of her husband but she knew she still had work to do to help her son claim back what was rightfully his. The Scots may have taken him as their King but the rest of the land was something else entirely. No matter the set back she always seemed to have a plan up her sleeve, not always taken though as soon it became clear that her children, most of whom she had not seen in years, were coming into their own and not needing her or her opinions. It was probably why she felt so strongly for her youngest Henrietta Anne, as she was the last one to mould in her own image.

Throughout her life she had many a friend who stayed close no matter the danger, though not all could be saved from it. She outlived most of her children and saw the fall and rise of the English royal reign when her son Charles II took back control. Her cultural influence can be seen today through the architecture designed by her protégé Inigo Jones and the art that was a love of hers. She was a creative creature from the start and seemed to want to please others, though I’d say only when deserved. This was a very interesting insight into a hidden figure of history.

From not knowing anything about her before reading the book I will admit to going back to the family trees at the front of the book from time to time just to remind myself who people were and how they were connected. Can get a little confusing when they all have the same name but that was just something they liked to do at the time so you have to just go with it.

5 out of 5 stars

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