Showing posts with label historical. Show all posts
Showing posts with label historical. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Notre-Dame de Paris Reflections

Mourning The Loss Of History

notre-dame de paris
Notre-Dame de Paris image courtesy of pixabay.com
Today I will be reviewing some history of Notre-Dame de Paris with you. The world watched in horror and shock yesterday, 04/15/2019, as this beautiful historical landmark of Paris burned. Whether you are a member of the Catholic Church or not, the loss of this beautiful cathedral that had survived wars and rebellions for over 800 years was devastating to see. This icon of the city of Paris and the country of France will never be the same. 

Our Lady Of Paris, the English translation of Notre-Dame de Paris, was commissioned to be built in 1160 by Bishop Maurice de Sully. He would never see his dream fulfilled of the French Gothic structure because it took almost 200 years for the church to be completed. It does not appear that the Bishop randomly chose a site for the cathedral to be constructed. He must have felt that there was something sacred about the land, at least I feel that way. A religious structure of one kind or another had been on that piece of ground since the days of the Roman Empire. A Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter was the first known structure. Four churches would eventually replace the temple before Notre-Dame began to be built. A 4th Century basilica dedicated to Saint Stephen was the first. In the 7th Century the basilica was replaced with a cathedral for Childebert I who I happen to be a descendant of. Two renovations of the Romanesque style churches followed. The Bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully, opted to demolish the existing building but did recycle many of the materials for what would become the most popular tourist attraction of France and the city of Paris.

As I watched the soaring red flames lighting the sky of Paris yesterday, one of the factoids by a reporter caught my attention. Something like 52 acres of wood had been used to construct the portion of Notre Dame that burned. It was often referred to as The Forest. No wonder it seemed to be consumed by fire so quickly! The timber had been drying for over 800 years. 

You might have assumed as I had that this historical cathedral belongs to the Vatican and the Catholic Church. The statement of President Macron that Notre-Dame de Paris would be re-built baffled me at first. Why would he be so committed to re-building when the French Government feels so strongly about the separation of church and state? Wouldn't it be up to the Pope to decide on what to do? Well, a little searching on my part revealed the answer. A law in 1905 made the famous cathedral the property of the French state. The Catholic Church is the designated beneficiary with the exclusive right to use the building for religious purposes. The paying of employees, the maintenance of the building, the utilities, security and other expenses are the responsibility of the Archdiocese. The Catholic Church does not receive any subsidies from the French Government. I found that fascinating to say the least.

If you would like to find out more about the history and architecture of the cathedral, there is a wonderful book that you can purchase. 

 They may be able to build a new structure but it can never be what stood before. There are not artisans today like the ones who built the original. The amazing craftsmanship of the past would be very difficult to replicate. 



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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Secret Child Book Review

Secret Child Book Review
Secret Child (2015) is a true story from a time when individuals of different religious backgrounds could fall in love but not easily marry and where children born out of wedlock were considered unwanted and considered 'the unfortunates.'  Most women who found themselves pregnant and unmarried in 1950s Dublin, Ireland were unable to keep their children.

Secret Child tells the story of Cathleen, a woman who found a forbidden love and lost it because of the divide between the Protestant and Catholic religions and then found herself pregnant. She was one of the fortunate few to stumble across Regina Coeli, which may have been the only home for unwed mothers in Dublin at that time.

The author does not know how his mother came to find this facility but it was definitely because of the Regina Coeli that his mother, Cathleen, managed to keep her son and hide him away from her family and the rest of the world until he was eight years old. This accomplishment of course was only done with great hardship when she worked long hours and left her young son in the care of a reclusive caregiver at the facility.

Some may have called these children the unfortunates but the children did not see themselves in that light and Gordon, according to Mail Online, considered the hostel paradise. It was, after all, his childhood home where he lived until the age of 8 when his mother eventually reunites with and marries her original love. As a family, they move to London, England and this move perhaps improves their life slightly but also brings with it a host of other challenges, which includes leaving Gordon's Regina Coeli family behind.

This book gives a glimpse into life in the 1950s in Dublin and the early 1960s in London. It is told from the point of view of the child, Gordon Lewis, and written with the assistance of ghostwriter Andrew Crofts. In the book, Gordon returns to Ireland as an adult to uncover the story of his childhood home, which was a happy place in his eyes, and to learn the story of his mother's prior life, which was unknown to him. His cousin asks why he wants to dig up that old history and advises him to let it be. For Gordon, however, it was important to put the story together and understand both his family background and his mother's story.

I recommend Secret Child for those wanting an interesting look into those times in Ireland and a serious subject matter though the book is not a difficult book to read.  Though this story took place in Ireland, we all know that such religious divides existed elsewhere and that unwed mothers faced similar situations in many different parts of the world.

If you are interested, you can read more about the book or order your copy of Secret Child from Amazon by clicking right here.

IMDB says this story is being created as a short film called The Bridge by the author and due for release in 2018.

See you
at the bookstore!

More Ireland:

Order your copy of Secret Child on Amazon.
Visit 1980s Ireland via my My Fifty Dead Men Walking movie review.
Visit Ireland in 1916 my Michael Collins movie review.
















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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hidden Figures Movie Reviewed

Historically Based Movie Worth Watching

John Glenn astronaut
Astronaut John Glenn image from Public Domain
My husband and I enjoy watching movies together, I thought that I would review Hidden Figures for you today because we really enjoyed it.

The movie appealed to me on so many levels. I have mentioned before that I am a bit of a history nerd. What was exciting about this movie based on the early space race between the US and Russia was that my husband and I actually lived during this era of history. I was ten when John Glenn orbited the earth for the first time. I remember how nervous and excited we all were. We were glued to the television or radio awaiting the news of the event.

If you are old enough to remember the late 1950s and early 1960s, you will recall that we of the female gender were looked at very differently. Girls weren't supposed to be good in the sciences. Math was not something that we should even try to excel in. Girls should learn to cook, clean and look attractive. Not many would encourage a girl to aspire to a career in any field. Our job was to be a good wife and mother, sad but accurate. 

So, to have a movie based on a true story about the women who secretly worked at NASA was thrilling to watch. To find out that there were women, smart women working on getting the US into space was uplifting to me. For those ladies to not only be female but to also be African-American well it was incredible. 

The movie, Hidden Figures, did an excellent job of showing what life was like in the US during that time. Without taking away from what was happening at NASA, it also touched on the civil rights movement that was growing across the nation. It shows how difficult it was for a person of color to work in an environment that was segregated. As I watched the movie, I remember being appalled at what poor Katherine (a most brilliant mathematician) had to endure just to go to the bathroom. There was not a restroom in her building that was to be used by "Coloreds" so she had to run something like a mile to the nearest one. Appalling, disgusting and shameful; unfortunately it is also accurate in its portrayal. Thank goodness our country is no longer like that.

I truly loved this movie and think that if you have not already seen it, you will too. After watching it, I called both of my daughters and recommended that they watch it. It is moving and inspirational and I think important for women, especially, to watch. I think that it is important for women who are too young to have lived during this time in history to see where we have been so that they can appreciate where we have come and most importantly that there are still miles to go before we are where we should be as women.





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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale Book Review

A friend told me that Kristin Hannah’s novel The Nightingale was an excellent book and it was. Though I know this book is a work of fiction, it does deal with real situations that happened during the time period that France was occupied by Germany in World War II.

I know things that happen in this book happened to real people in France. I have always read books set in this time period. However, what happened in that war is still hard to believe. Truly unbelievable. Despite knowing that people were treated in this manner, I still managed to come away in disbelief saying to my husband things like, "How could anyone treat people the way they did?" and "How did the French people manage to survive in those conditions?" We are not talking about one or two crazy people here, right? We are talking about an 'army' of people mistreating people.

Anyway, in my opinion, Kristin Hannah has crafted a wrenching story with a family and with characters that you will come to love. Yes, you are likely going to shed some tears. Yes, you will be upset by the violence and the cruelty and the sexual situations in this book though I must say that it is far from the worst book that I have read in those matters though perhaps more disturbing because it feels so real.

The Nightingale deals with the contributions made to World War II by women. Unfortunately, those important contributions like the women depicted in this book who joined the French Resistance or who managed despite incredible odds to feed their families, have not been as widely acknowledged or recognised as those of men.

In particular, this book deals with two quite different sisters: One who wants to keep her family safe; the other who is not willing to accept the things that are happening to them. It is a story of courage and survival parts of which were inspired by real women like 19-year old Belgian, Andrée De Jongh, who took considerable risks helping people escape from France.

Here is the book trailer. I do not know if it is official or not but it does give a good idea of the things that happen in this story:



This book is well done and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me and by many others. If you love a book that shares a great story about women’s lives and that is historically based you will enjoy The Nightingale. It is riveting. You will not even notice that it the hardcover book is 440 pages or that the paperback is 600, particularly if you read it as an ebook.

By way of further recommendation, you might take the fact that, according to The New York Times in 2016, this book had sold more than two million copies. This book has drawn both men and women as well as young and old readers. As one who has always been captivated by World War II novels it comes as no surprise to me when the Times stated that people are drawn to them. However, I was interested to learn that this book has drawn a younger generation of readers who perhaps relate to this novel because of how young people were drawn to the French Resistance.

If you are interested in reading The Nightingale, you can find it in all formats including eBook, audiobook and traditional paper book, on Amazon by clicking right here.  I’ve just noticed on the cover that this movie is to become a major motion picture. There is not much information available as I write this other than a rumoured movie release date of 2017, which means that once you have read the book you have a movie to look forward to.

If you like historical fiction, you might also enjoy these reviews on Review This:

Secret Healer by Ellin Carsta, which is set in 14th Century Germany.

The movie The Bridge of Spies, which is set in the cold war.

The One Man by Andrew Gross, which is set in Poland in 1944.

See you
At the book store!
Brenda

Quick Link:

Order your copy of Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale from Amazon.






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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ken Follett’s The Century Trilogy Books Reviewed

Ken Follett’s The Century Trilogy Books Reviewed
I am thoroughly enjoying Ken Follett’s the Century Trilogy and totally unable to put it down.

The three books are based on what happened in world history between the years of 1911 and 2008. Those story lines include the Russian Revolution, the suffrage movement, the rise of Nazi Germany, World War II, the atomic age, the Cold War, civil rights, assassinations, mass political movements, Vietnam, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, presidential impeachment, revolution, rock and roll and of course both good and bad from all of those time periods.

To tell this story, Follett skillfully weaved together generations of five families from America, Russia, Germany, England and Wales.

I picked up the first book, FALL OF GIANTS, as a good long read for our recent Panama Canal cruise and I have been steadily working my way through the series for a couple of months. I am often pulled away kicking and screaming from books in order to turn my attention to an “assigned” book club book. Leaving the second book, WINTER OF THE WORLD, for a grumpy old geezer in A MAN CALLED OVE was downright difficult although worthwhile in the end.

Currently, I have had to put the third book, EDGE OF ETERNITY, down to read LEAN IN, a book about women, work, and the will to lead, which is not compulsive reading for me and definitely not middle-of-the-night when-you-cannot-sleep reading.

Ken Follett FALL OF GIANTS Century Trilogy 1

Ken Follett Winter of the World Century Trilogy 2

Ken Follett Edge of Eternity Century Trilogy 3

Anyway, in case you cannot tell from my enthusiasm, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Ken Follett’s Century trilogy. I caution that as a world history book it definitely has violence and it also has sexual content. However, I believe that most of the violence and some of the sexual content was required to tell this realistic story.

The three-book series contains 2,991 pages and each book is encyclopedic in length so for ease of reading I highly recommend purchasing it as an eBook or if not an eBook, then as a paperback book. We own the hardcover version and each I just weighed them and discovered that each one weighs an average of just over 3 pounds. They are heavy. Ordinarily, I prefer to read physical books because I spend much of my working life using a computer but in this case because of the sheer weight of these books I really, truly preferred to read them on my cellphone.

You can find the Century Trilogy in hardcover, paperback and electronic versions on Amazon by clicking right here. I looked for and with some difficulty eventually found a boxed set both in paperback and hardcover editions. You can find the gift sets here. I believe that this series would make an absolutely brilliant gift idea for anyone male or female who likes a good historical novel. Of course, gifting the first volume alone would be a good idea, too.

Is there a movie? No, there is not and Follett himself says in this Washington Post interview, that if they were to make a mini-series that it would be the longest mini-series ever made, that it would be very expensive to make at least partly because he would not allow it to be done cheaply and that a mini-series was therefore, not likely to happen.

Have you read Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy? Are there any other Follett books that you have read, thoroughly loved and would recommend to us?

See you at the bookstore!

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Link:

Buy Ken Follett's Century Trilogy books on Amazon.












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Thursday, March 30, 2017

The One Man Book Review

Set in Poland in 1944, Andrew Gross’ The One Man tells the story of a man and his family rounded up and sent to a Nazi concentration camp after a failed escape attempt. Alfred Mendl carries with him his important research but that work is promptly burned on his arrival at the camp.

You have likely guessed that Mendl is not just another prisoner. It turns out that his knowledge in the realm of physics is information that only two people in the world know. The other man with this knowledge currently works for the Nazis and the Americans are desperate to gain Mendl’s knowledge so that they can win this war.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Nathan Blum works steadily away at decoding messages from occupied Poland. Previously, he had escaped the Krakow ghetto. Because his entire family was executed after his departure from home, Blum wants to reap revenge for his family and eventually agrees to go back to Poland to break INTO the concentration camp with the end goal of helping Mendl escape and bring back his physics research. Of course, breaking into a concentration camp is unheard of but getting out is really the difficult part.

This book is part historical fiction and part thriller and it is definitely a page turner. It is emotional and it will take you on a horrifying journey. I don’t think it is a spoiler if I say that I finished reading this book with tears running down my face, which is pretty unusual for me. Yes, The One Man comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me for anyone who enjoys World War II fiction and a gripping story.

Author Steve Berry says, “Haunting and thrilling…A masterful blend of family and duty laced with heroism and characters that are intriguing and richly drawn...You must read it!"  You can read more about The One Man on Amazon here.

Do you enjoy historical fiction? Will you be checking out The One Man?

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

More Book Reviews:

Steve Berry's Amber Room
John Sandford's Extreme Prey
Tarashea Nesbit's The Wives of Los Alamos 




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Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Wives of Los Alamos by Tarashea Nesbit

The women wives in this book arrived from around the world. They came from different lifestyles, backgrounds and situations. Their average age was 25. Their educational backgrounds varied from those with doctorate degrees to stay at home moms to dancers. Most did not know exactly where they were going or what awaited them when they arrived in Los Alamos, New Mexico. These women were forced to come together to create a life for their families in New Mexico.

TaraShea Nesbit's The Wives of Los Alamos is the story of the women who supported the men who worked on one of the biggest research projects in World War II. Unknowingly, these families would be tied to a huge development that changed the course of history.

Their lives during the time they spent in Los Alamos were tough but they had even bigger challenges ahead when their experience was over and they had to weigh their contribution to the creation of a hugely destructive development of the 1940s known as the Manhattan Project.

Is The Wives of Los Alamos a True Story?

Here a 9 minute video in which Nesbit shares a bit of the real story which she writes about in the book:



Would I Recommend This Book?


The story is told by all of the women together in one voice. That is, the book is written in the first person plural a method that I personally did not care for. Here's an example from the beginning:

"We were European women born in Southampton and Hamburg, Western women born in California and Montana, East Coast women born in Connecticut and New York, Midwestern women born in Nebraska and Ohio, or Southern women from Mississippi or Texas, and no matter who we were we wanted nothing to do with starting all over again, and so we paused, we exhaled, and we asked, What part of the Southwest?"

That voice was okay for the first while but eventually I would rather have had the story told by a single individual. I can, however, see how this voice allowed many viewpoints to be expressed in each situation but there are many who could not get past the author's style. Others, however, really enjoyed this book and the style it was written in.

At the end of the book, I was left with a lot of thinking to do. How did those individuals cope with knowing they had made such a horrific contribution to the war effort? How would you cope? How would I?

Yes, I would recommend this book because it is a novel about a very significant scientific development in world history that takes place in the United States. You might want to read it for that fact alone and you never know, you might enjoy the style, too.

You can buy your copy from Amazon by clicking right here. If you do read it, be sure to come back and let us know what you think about the style and the story.

Happy Reading!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Link:

Buy your copy of The Wives of Los Alamos on Amazon.









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