DUCHESSES: Living in 21st Century Britain
The Telegraph correspondent said ‘It’s essential reading’ for the newspaper’s series on stately homes (3 Dec. 2015)
“This is a first class book. It is written with clarity and understanding and has provided me with many enjoyable hours of reading. I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in history or the aristocracy.”
“Very enjoyable read; a good mix of history of each of the Duchesses’ forbears combined with excellent “interviews” with the current encumbents.”
“Good history, well told.”
Review in The European Royal History Journal, Issue CII –Volume 17.6: December 2014
‘In this innovative book, the Duchesses of Somerset, St Albans, Bedford, Rutland, Buccleuch, Argyll, Montrose, Northumberland, Leinster and Abercorn talk about their lives and roles in today’s world. They are ten of the twenty-four remaining Duchesses in Britain today. Some are from aristocratic families and have family links or connections to the royal family. The Duchess of Abercorn, born Alexandra Phillips, is a granddaughter of Sir Harold and Lady Zia Werner. As such, she is a direct descendant of Nicholas I of Russia and also of the poet Alexander Pushkin;….. [two dukedoms] descend from illegitimate children of Charles II.
Others are non-aristocratic but all have differing views on the role of a duchess today and whether women should inherit titles in the absence of a male heir. It’s interesting to note that these days a Duchess is not often called upon to “open” something — people prefer a footballer’s wife or other celebrity!
Each Duchess was also asked to choose a favourite Duchess in her title from the past, providing a fascinating gallery from the 17th to the 20th century and a comparison with today. The Duchess of Argyll chose Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise, wife of the 9th Duke; the Duchess of Abercorn chose Lady Louisa Jane Russell, wife of the 1st Duke. He bought for her the famous La Peregrina pearl, which was sold to Richard Burton in 1969.
An app also accompanies the book — featuring video footage of some of the homes, interviews with some of the Duchesses, family trees and additional content.
This is an interesting concept which works very well, giving a valuable insight into the lives of modern day aristocracy and how it differs from that of their predecessors.’
Extracts from review on Royal Central, royalcentral.co.uk (by Jessica Hope)
“Duchesses is the perfect kind of book to keep on your bookshelf to flick through on a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon. …[I]t certainly displays interesting questions about the relevance of our modern day nobility and takes a peek into the lives of 21st century aristocrats…. With glossy pictures and portraits of the Duchesses, their family members and ancestral homes, along with plenty of historical background and insight into the Duchesses’ personal lives, it makes for quite light reading….
“The genealogy of each Duchess is fascinating, especially when learning about where and when their title originated from…. A great deal of research has certainly gone into this book and this is demonstrated in the ‘favourite Duchess’ chapters, chosen by each of the current Duchesses. No one can doubt that each of the titles included in this book are steeped in great history and enchanting stories. …[I]t is reassuring and enjoyable to read about the current Duchesses of Britain who we do not hear about very often, or at all for that matter…..
“Duchesses has embraced technology and created an app to accompany the book. By using this app, readers can watch videos focusing on five of the Duchesses featured in the book, and witness footage of their homes and family trees, alongside interviews with them and other additional content.” 11th September 2014
THE VOICE FROM THE GARDEN
In February 2013 the book was selected for the longlist of 12 for the New Angle Prize for Literature, a literary competition for books about or inspired by East Anglia. In the announcement the judges, author Esther Freud, Professor Jo Catling, and previous winner Jim Kelly, said of the book: “A meticulous and captivating reconstruction of the life of Pamela Hambro – of the East Anglian Cobbold family – and the impact of the First World War on her life.” In a discussion with the judges on BBC Radio Suffolk, one of them said the book was “a great way to read history.”
“The book manages the difficult task of telling a personal story compellingly while setting it in the very dense context of the social and political scene over the whole of that volatile period.” Vivien Whelpton, author of ‘Richard Aldington: Poet, Soldier and Lover’ (published by Lutterworth, January 2014).
On 24 Dec 2012 The Daily Telegraph published a feature it had commissioned by Jane inspired by the book, headlined, ‘What happened to my father on that hilltop?’ Follow this link <a href=”http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/9763965/What-happened-to-my-father-on-that-hilltop.html#”
BBC Radio Suffolk’s Georgina Wroe, in a live interview, said of ‘The Voice From the Garden’: ‘If you like Downton Abbey, you’ll love this…..It’s a beautiful, gorgeous book.’
Steven Russell in a feature article on the book in the East Anglian Daily Times wrote: “The impetus for a book can come from anywhere, but few starting points are as unsettling as the one that sparked The Voice from the Garden.”
Anthony Cobbold of the Cobbold Family History Trust wrote: “….it sped past me like a good film, over before it had begun, leaving me satisfied but wanting more.”