books, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: Women’s History month

Okay, this is an American thing, but there was also International Women’s Day this month. And yes, I know, I know. It’s nearly the end of March so this is super late but I’m sneaking this in under the wire because I can. And I’m going to work my way back in history, because for some reason that seems like the most logical thing to do!

Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

This is really really good. A fascinating insight into the “normal” women behind the development of the Atomic Bomb. It’s the story of a pop up city built around a project so secret that you weren’t told what you were doing, and didn’t ask what other people were doing either. A few of the chemists put two and two together, but they were a handful out of tens of thousands. Really worth reading.

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

There are a lot of books about Jane Austen, but this is a well researched look at Jane Austen’s home life, framing it in the wider world of expectations for women in Georgian England, the restrictions on their lives and how they subverted that. When Lucy Worsley is at her best, her books are very readable and accessible. At other times, she is very dense and scholarly and it’s hard work. This is much more the latter than the former, or at least it was for me. I had thought that the readability was an experience thing, because her first book was very scholarly, but the next one – Courtiers – was incredibly easy and yet informative. I still have her Agatha Christie biograohy on my shelf – I wonder which Worlsey we will get there!

She Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England before Elizabeth by Helen Castor

And finally, lets go back to the Middle Ages, for a group biography of four women who ruled England (or tried to) between the Twelfth and the Fifteenth Century. If you’ve never come across Matilda, the daughter of Henry I and granddaughter of William the Conqueror, then you have a treat instore – especially as the period she was trying to claim the crown in is known as The Anarchy. The other women are Eleanor of Aquitaine (wife of two kings, and ruler of Aquitaine in her own right), Isabella of France (daughter of a French King and married to an English one) and Margaret of Anjou (who ruled on behalf of her mad husband and key figure in the Wars of the Roses). It’s really, really interesting – and looks at some parts of history that don’t really get taught in schools in the UK.

This time last year I did a post about Interesting Women – do go and check that out for some more reviews, including Hidden Figures, but I also wanted to flag The Radium Girls which was in a Recommendsday post a couple of years back, and Janina Ramirez’s Femina which was in a Recommendsday last year

Happy Reading!

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