Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Upcoming Book Reviews: Pre-Raphaelite, Victorian Gothic & Sixteenth Century French History!

The Rossettis in Wonderland: A Victorian Family History By Dinah Roe

The exiled Italian poet Gabriele Rossetti arrived in London in 1824 with a few letters of introduction, little money and less English. But within one generation, he would bequeath his new city with a remark- able cultural legacy through the accomplishments of his children. There was the poet and Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel, the poet and religious thinker Christina, the nun and Dante Alighieri scholar Maria, and William, who combined a life of English letters with a successful career in finance. The lives and achievements of the Rossettis are placed within the wider context of the artistic, literary and spiritual communities that inspired them and that they shaped in their turn. They worked with each other and in collaboration with the most famous figures of their day - the Barrett-Brownings, Tennyson, Swinburne and Ruskin - as well as within significant groups like the Pre-Raphaelites, Anglo-Catholics, Freemasons and suffragists.

Paperback412 pages
Published November 2011 by Haus Publishing
1907822011 (ISBN13: 9781907822018)

The Unforgetting by Rose Black

"This haunting Victorian novel weaves a spellbinding web of deluded dreams and dark deceptions" Essie Fox

Her fate was decided. Her death was foretold. Her past is about to be unforgotten...

1851. When Lily Bell is sold by her father to a 'Professor of Ghosts' to settle a bad debt, she dreams of finding fame on the London stage. But Erasmus Salt wants Lilly not as an actress, but as his very own ghost - the heart of his elaborate illusion for those desperate for a glimpse of the spirit world . . .

Obsessed with perfection, Erasmus goes to extreme lengths to ensure his illusion is realistic. When Lily comes across her own obituary in the paper, and then her headstones in the cemetery, she realises that she is trapped, her own parents think she is dead, and that her fate is soon to become even darker . . .

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 9th 2020 by Orion
Original Title
The Unforgetting
1409190617 (ISBN13: 9781409190615)

The City of Tears By Kate Mosse (Book 2 in trilogy)

Following on from the Sunday Times number one bestseller, The Burning Chambers, Kate Mosse's The City of Tears is the second thrilling historical epic in The Burning Chambers series, for fans of Ken Follett and Dan Brown.

August 1572: Minou Joubert and her family are in Paris for a Royal Wedding, an alliance between the Catholic Crown and the Huguenot King of Navarre intended to bring peace to France after a decade of religious wars. So too is their oldest enemy, Vidal, still in pursuit of a relic that will change the course of history. But within days of the marriage, thousands will lie dead in the streets and Minou’s beloved family will be scattered to the four winds . . .

A gripping, breathtaking novel of revenge, persecution and loss, the action sweeps from Paris and Chartres to the city of tears itself, Amsterdam.

Hardcover608 pages
Expected publication: May 28th 2020 by Mantle

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

A Review of The Burning Chambers By Kate Mosse

Power and Prejudice: France, 1562. War sparks between the Catholics and Huguenots, dividing neighbors, friends, and family—meanwhile, nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: She knows that you live.
Love and Betrayal: Before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, she meets a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon. Piet has a dangerous task of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to stay alive. Soon, they find themselves on opposing sides, as forces beyond their control threaten to tear them apart.
Honor and Treachery: As the religious divide deepens, Minou and Piet find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as tensions ignite across the city—and a feud that will burn across generations begins to blaze. . .
Minotaur Books
St. Martin's Publishing Group
On Sale: 06/18/2019
ISBN: 9781250202161
592 Pages

The flagstones were cold under her stockinged feet and she could see her breath, white, in the chill air. She slipped into her leather boots, took her hood and green woolen cloak from the stand, put the keys and the book into the purse tied around her waist. Then, holding her gloves in her hand, she slid back the heavy metal bolt and stepped out into the silent street. A spirit girl abroad on a chill February dawn.
I must say a huge thank you to Minotaur Books for my review copy. My huge apologies for taking so long to review another incredible historical saga from the incomparable author, Kate Mosse. I’ve been in awe of her research and writing since Labyrinth way back when. She is a continued inspiration for my passion in research and writing.
The prologue takes place in South Africa during winter 1862. A mysterious unnamed woman stands at a gravestone she can barely look at. This is the day of my death...
The Burning Chambers covers the year 1562 broken down into three parts and three seasons: Winter, Spring and Summer. This year will never be the same for booksellers daughter, Minou Joubert. A letter, an inheritance, a lost relic, a family bible will lead young Minou to find the love of her life and change her life forever as her family secrets come out against the backdrop of The Wars of Religion. All the elements are here in true Dumas fashion: Catherine de Medici, poison, dead husbands, villainous women and treacherous men! 
Nobody brings history to life with more intelligence, heart, violence, blood, rage and love like Kate Mosse.
I cannot wait for the second book in the series, The City Of Tears.

For more information about Kate Mosse, visit. Minotaur Books

Monday, February 3, 2020

Christina Rossetti's Parents: Gabriele Rossetti (1783-1854) and Frances Rossetti nee Polidori (1800-1886)

I've been reading up on the patriarch of The Rossetti Family:  Gabriele Rossetti (1783-1854) out of curiosity. I've just started reading, Dinah Roe's family tome, The Rossettis in Wonderland, and my curiosity has been running wild! 

So, I am including a few fun tidbits from father of Poet, Christina Rossetti and painter and poet, Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  First a bit of background:

Gabriele Rossetti was born in Vesto, in Abruzzi, Italy, on the Adriatic coast of Naples. He was custodian in the Museo Barbonico of Naples. He was also a poet as well. He was part of a movement supporting the constitution to Ferdinand I of Naples in 1820. He fled to London after the king revoked the constitution and persecuted the abettors. 

Having settled in London, he married Frances Polidori in 1824 and became Professor of Italian in Kings College. He also published two works on Dante. Later in life, one of his sons, William Michael Rossetti, published his memoirs and letters. 

One Stanza from poem
 Life In Italy by Gabriele Rossetti,

My children, grow, grow up to patriot love
In you the blood and name of me is stored
To England from Abruzzo transmigrate.
Free you were born, and I was born a serf.
O Providence! Mine exiled seemed to me
To dive injustice of a Fate my foe;
But, if mine exiles was to prove
A family like this, I bless the ban.
Yes, for they deadly rage which hurled me forth,
Perfidious Bourbon King, I give thee thanks.

Frances Mary Lavinia Rossetti (nee Polidori)
Drawing by her son, Dante Gabriel Rossetti
(Rossetti Archive)

Frances Polidori was the daughter of Gaetano Polidori. She was English on her mother's side and Italian, from Tuscany, on her father's side. The Polidori's were a prominent family with ties to some who would become some of the greatest Romantic poets of our day. She married Gabriele Rossetti and had four children all academics and poets in their own right: 
Maria Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Michael Rossetti.

Two samples from letters written by husband, Gabriele Rossetti to his wife, Frances Rossetti:

38 Charlotte Street, London
29th May 1832

My Dearly Loved Frances,

Every word you wrote pierced like a dagger into my heart. My sweetest Gabriel, there is so ill! My baby Christina suffers with her teeth and has wounded her forehead! Oh my poor children! If the distance were less great, I would come immediately to see my four treasures, and you, my beloved wife, who must be immeasurably afflicted, as I am myself. Good-bye, dearly loved, Frances, I am going to bed for it is 1 o'clock. I bless one by one the infant pledges of our love, and invoke on them health and prosperity. Kiss them for me, speak about me to them, and along with theirs-preserve your precious health, which is my greatest treasure. 

Your most affectionate husband,
Gabriele Rossetti
Gabriele Rossetti drawn by son,
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
(Rossetti Archive)

50 Charlotte Street, London
21 October 1836

My Dearest Frances,

Oh that I had two arms as long as from here to Holmer Green! You would find your neck clasped of a sudden by the warmest marital embrace, and you would then be softly seized hold of and deposited in Charlotte Street, saving you the trouble of the journey by road: Yours should be aerial...The true one treasure of my life is my dear Frances, and to restore her to me renewed in health is to restore my existence. Good-bye to the better portion of myself. Three days hence you, by God's help, will be here with me and I will prove to you how much you are loved by 

Your Husband,

In closing, while reading through my source material; the opening pages consisted of a copied handwritten letter from Dante Gabriel Rossetti, painter and poet, to his mother, Frances Rossetti, a month before his wedding. He talks about his girlfriend, Elizabeth Siddal 'Lizzie'  which he spells (Lizzy not Lizzie), her ill health, and his concerns. The typed version is below the handwritten letter.  

Mrs. Rossetti, photographer unknown.

This miniature is in fact a photograph (probably an albumen print) painted over in gouache. The over-painting has been attributed to Elizabeth Siddall's husband, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the English poet and founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, formed in London in 1848. The lavish frame in gold, opal, sapphires and diamonds (made in London) was added in 1906 by J. Pierpont Morgan, a previous owner, and it was cataloged by G.C. Williamson in the same year as "Mrs. Rossetti." The story attached to the photograph is that, after Siddall's death in February 1862, Rossetti gave it to a nurse who had attended at the birth of Siddall's still-born child, and that it passed to the nurse's daughter, who in difficult financial times sold it to a clergyman (see G.C. Williamson, "Catalogue of the Collection of Miniatures, the Property of J. Pierpont Morgan," vol. 2, London: Chiswick Press, 1906, p. 116). This story is also told by Williamson with some variations in "Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan's Pictures, the English Miniatures, V.," Connoisseur, 8:70, June 1907, pp. 71-76, p. 75; "Stories of an Expert," 1935, pp. 36-39; and "The Cases of an Art Expert, II, The Rossetti Miniature," Country Life, 80, 11 July 1936, p. 35-6.). The costume is correct for ca. 1860 and the portrait shows strong resemblances to Siddall as depicted in several studies and paintings by Rossetti. The pose recalls the posthumously completed painting "Beata Beatrix" (ca.1864-70), Tate Britain, London, N01279. --  Archived at The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD.

 Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Frances Rossetti (DGRs mother)

SOURCE for letters from Gabriele to Frances Rossetti and poem
Gabriele Rossetti: A Verified Autobiography by Gabriele Rossetti, Translated by William Michael Rossetti, London, 1901

SOURCE for letter from Dante Gabriel Rossetti to his mother, Frances Rossetti
US Edition: Handwritten version:  Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Family Letters by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Volume II, Boston, Roberts Brothers, 1895.

UK Edition: Typed version:  (same book as above), Volume II, London, Ellis + Elvey, 1895.

A review of Fifteen Wild Decembers by Karen Powell

SHORTLISTED FOR THE NERO BOOK AWARDS 2023 A creative re-imagining of the short life of Emily Brontë, one of England’s greatest writers Isola...