Good Morning from York

We’re finishing up a week-long stay in York, and nature has given us a gorgeous Monday morning. Yes, it’s cold, but… it’s so pretty!

Also, here are some pictures from our trip to the enormous (and spectacular) Fountains Abbey yesterday (you can thank Henry VIII for destroying it!).

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Historical Romance Fans!

When we arrived in England two days ago we were too early to get into our accommodation in York, so – naturally! – time had to be spent visiting the nearest stately home to Leeds airport: Harewood House.

This is not the first stately home I have visited, and not the first I have visited on this trip.

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However, personally, when I read historical fiction I tend to forget just HOW grand the lives of these characters were. Harewood is not the biggest, but it’s the one with royal connections, and the Georgian influences are gorgeous.

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Eighty Years Ago: Australia’s Women’s National Emergency Legion is Formed

Horsewoman in the Australian Women’s Emergency Legion. September 1939. X

The Women’s National Emergency Legion, an auxiliary organisation in Australia during the Second World War, was formed in September of 1938.

Based in Brisbane, Queensland, only women of British origin were allowed to join.

Article from The Morning Bulletin. Rockhampton. 18 November 1938.

Women considered eligible were provided with training in areas considered necessary to the war effort, such as first aid and truck driving.

Miss Tony Mitchell at Somerville House in Brisbane, 1942. Mitchell drove cars and trucks for the US Army. X

When war broke out in the Pacific at the end of 1941 women were attached to US military units to work as drivers and clerks. They also worked for British and Dutch units based in Australia.

The organisation ceased operations a couple of years after the end of the war.

Book Feature: My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih

My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih

Ukraine is basically the forgotten country of the twentieth century. Before the Second World War arrived on its doorstep it had already suffered a genocide at Stalin’s hands that killed at least as many as the Holocaust. More people died on Ukrainian soil than anywhere else in the war, leading to historians calling Ukraine the Bloodlands.

My Real Name Is Hanna appears to be well-researched, and I hope to read and review it soon. Of course, it’s going to be a touchy subject for me, as both my mother’s parents were taken prisoner by the Nazis, and my family still lives on Ukrainian land full of WW2 craters.

My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih

Hanna Slivka is on the cusp of fourteen when Hitler’s army crosses the border into Soviet-occupied Ukraine. Soon, the Gestapo closes in, determined to make the shtetele she lives in “free of Jews.” Until the German occupation, Hanna spent her time exploring Kwasova with her younger siblings, admiring the drawings of the handsome Leon Stadnick, and helping her neighbor dye decorative pysanky eggs. But now she, Leon, and their families are forced to flee and hide in the forest outside their shtetele—and then in the dark caves beneath the rolling meadows, rumored to harbor evil spirits. Underground, they battle sickness and starvation, while the hunt continues above. When Hanna’s father disappears, suddenly it’s up to Hanna to find him—and to find a way to keep the rest of her family, and friends, alive.

Sparse, resonant, and lyrical, weaving in tales of Jewish and Ukrainian folklore, My Real Name Is Hanna celebrates the sustaining bonds of family, the beauty of a helping hand, and the tenacity of the human spirit.

Inspired by real Holocaust events, this poignant debut novel is a powerful coming-of-age story that will resonate with fans of The Book Thief and Between Shades of Gray.

Downhill Demesne

I read and review plenty of books about 18th/19th century aristocrats and their estates (and scandals) on this blog, and yesterday we visited Downhill (or what’s left of it!), which is in County Londonderry in Northern Ireland.

Built by the bizarre English aristocrat Frederick, 4th Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry – yes, he was both – the house is now a ruin, but the Mussenden Temple perched on the cliff at the edge of the estate survives. It is said he kept his mistress there.

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