Title: Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain

Author: Violet Fenn

Pages: 144 Pages

Publisher: Pen & Sword

The Blurb

Peek beneath the bedsheets of nineteenth-century Britain in this affectionate, informative and fascinating look at sex and sexuality during the reign of Queen Victoria. It examines the prevailing attitudes towards male and female sexual behaviour, and the ways in which these attitudes were often determined by those in positions of power and authority. It also explores our ancestors’ ingenious, surprising, bizarre and often entertaining solutions to the challenges associated with maintaining a healthy sex life.

Did the people in Victorian times live up to their stereotypes when it came to sexual behaviour? This book will answer this question, as well as looking at fashion, food, science, art, medicine, magic, literature, love, politics, faith and superstition through a new lens, leaving the reader uplifted and with a new regard for the ingenuity and character of our great-great-grandparents.

The Review

One of my favourite period in history has to be the Victorian era. I will actively read books set during this time – fiction and non-fiction – just because the world was so fascinating. The changes that were occurring not just industrially but also socially – it always makes for an interesting read.

It was due to this that I was intrigued to read Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain. What made it even more interesting for me is that it isn’t focused on London which to be fair is usually the location for a lot of books on Victoriana. This book had links to my hometown of Liverpool. Hurrah.

Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain was fantastic. It was an academic book without the need of academia to be able to read, understand, and enjoy it. It was eye-opening and titillating all at once. Fenn has researched hr topic well and added the element of heart – something that sometimes lacks in other texts of this ilk. I hoovered this book, relishing every page and any fan of history should find enjoyment between these pages.

Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain by Violet Fenn is available now.

For more information regarding Violet Fenn (@violetfenn) please visit www.sexdeathrocknroll.com.

For more information regarding Pen & Sword (@penswordbooks) please visit www.pen-and-sword.co.uk.

Title: The Five – The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper

Author: Hallie Rubenhold

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The Blurb

Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London—the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper.

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden, and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.

For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that “the Ripper” preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time—but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.

The Review

I stand accused. I stand accused of being guilty of the exact thing that Hallie Rubenhold has written about in her fabulous book The Five – The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper. I, myself, have only ever known them to be prostitutes and never once have I thought to consider these women as actual people. They are almost myth and legend. Nowadays we are titillated over the gruesome crimes of a serial killer. You have to ask yourself, if this crime happened today would we celebrate a murderer? Probably not.

What this wonderful book does is delve into the history of these women and show how their lives were shaped by the environment they were living in. Victorian England was harsh to a lot of people – working class women in particular. Rubenhold gives you a glimpse in to a world that you wouldn’t even want to imagine.

What I have taken from this book is that these women had a life beyond their death and I will now remember them for who they are: Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine ,and Mary-Jane.

The Five – The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold is available now.

For more information regarding Hallie Rubenhold (@HallieRubenhold) please visit www.hallierubenhold.com.

For more information regarding Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (@HMHCo) please visit www.hmhco.com.

Title: The Stonewall Riots

Author: Gayle E. Pitman

Pages: 224 Pages

Publisher: Abram Kids

The Blurb

This book is about the Stonewall Riots, a series of spontaneous, often violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBTQ+) community in reaction to a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. The Riots are attributed as the spark that ignited the LGBTQ+ movement.

The author describes American gay history leading up to the Riots, the Riots themselves, and the aftermath, and includes her interviews of people involved or witnesses, including a woman who was ten at the time. Profusely illustrated, the book includes contemporary photos, newspaper clippings, and other period objects. A timely and necessary read, The Stonewall Riots helps readers to understand the history and legacy of the LGBTQ+ movement.

The Review

I read a lot of LGBT fiction but one thing that I haven’t read enough about is the history of the LGBT community. I am seriously behind on my non-fiction. From what I have learned through research after reading things in fiction I have picked up bits and pieces but I really need to expand my knowledge of the LGBT+ community and the ongoing battle for equality. This year I plan to change this. My non-fiction reading journey has begun with The Stonewall Riots by Gayle E. Pitman.

I had heard the term ‘Stonewall’ but never quite understood what it meant and its root. After reading The Stonewall Riots I now see how hard the initial fights for rights were and just how institutionalised the homophobia was…and sadly still is.

Pitman’s easy style means that the book can be read and enjoyed by all. It is a book that should be a feature of every school library and be used in PSHE lessons when discussing LGBTQIA+ issues.

If, like me, you are new to the non-fiction element of the history of LGBTQIA+ rights then The Stonewall Riots is a great book to start you off on that journey.

The Stonewall Riots by Gayle E. Pitman is available now.

For more information regarding Abram Kids (@ABRAMSbooks) please visit www.abramsbooks.com.

Title: Cunk on Everything: The Encyclopaedia Philomena

Author: Philomena Cunk

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Two Roads

The Blurb

Philomena Cunk is one of the greatest thinkers of the 21st century, and in Cunk on Everything she turns her attention to our biggest issue: why are there so many books? Wouldn’t it be better if there was just one? This is that book – an encyclopedia of ALL HUMAN KNOWLEDGE, from sausages to Henry of Eight to Brush Strokes to vegetarian sausages.

Read it, and you’ll never have to read another book again.


The Review

Cunk on Britain was the funniest program on TV last year. Diana Morgan’s character Philomena Cunk explained the history of Britain in an entertaining way…if not a little bit inaccurate.

I received a copy of Cunk on Everything from my fiancé for Christmas (coincidentally I had also bought him a copy – freaky deaky). I read it every couple of days, laughing along with the absurdity of some of the sayings but if I am completely honest it needs the deadpan tone of Philomena Cunk to really get the entertainment value up.

I think I will listen to the Audiobook and see if that makes a difference.

Cunk on Everything: The Encyclopaedia Philomena by Philomena Cunk is available now.

For more information regarding Philomena Cunk (@CunkPhilomena) please visit here Twitter page.

For more information regarding Two Roads (@TwoRoadsBooks) please visit www.tworoadsbooks.com.

Votes for WomenTitle: Votes for Women! The Pioneers and Heroines of Female Suffrage (from the pages of A History of Britain in 21 Women)

Author: Jenni Murray

Pages: 84 Pages

Publisher: One World Publications

The Blurb

Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Millicent Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst, Constance Markievicz, Nancy Astor

They terrorised the establishment.

They fought for the vote.

They pushed back boundaries and revolutionised our world.

For the hundredth anniversary of the historic moment the franchise was finally extended to women, here is a selection of suffragette and suffragist activists and pioneering MPs from the pages of Jenni Murray’s bestselling A History of Britain in 21 Women. Set against the backdrop of a world where equality is still to be achieved, it is a vital reminder of the great women who fought for change.

The Review

Once again, I am getting my feminist on.

I love reading books about strong women. Women who have helped change the course of history. In some of the books that I have read about this topic I have felt myself bogged down by a lot of information, almost like the author is trying to give everything to convince you.

Jenni Murray doesn’t do that. She knows the validity of the women she has chosen to write about and she knows the part they have played and the impact on the change of the world. She gives you enough interesting information to keep intrigued and maybe make you want to find out more. She never gives you so much that you feel bored.

The women that she has chosen to write about, some better known than others have all had a massive impact on the way we live our lives today. It was a pleasure to read about them.

Votes for Women! The Pioneers and Heroines of Female Suffrage (from the pages of A History of Britain in 21 Women) by Jenni Murray is available now.

For more information regarding Jenni Murray (@whjm) please visit www.bbc.co.uk/womanshour.

4 Stars