Christmas Book Flood | Recommending reading

National history (UK)

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(History of England: book 5)
Peter Ackroyd
(UK: Macmillan, @panmacmillan, 2018; USA: Thomas Dunne Books, @StMartinsPress, 2018)

The penultimate volume of Peter Ackroyd’s masterful ‘History of England’ series, Dominion begins in 1815 as national glory following the Battle of Waterloo gives way to post-war depression, spanning the last years of the Regency to the death of Queen Victoria in January 1901.

In this book, Ackroyd takes us from the accession of the profligate George IV whose government was steered by Lord Liverpool, who was firmly set against reform, to the reign of his brother, William IV, the ‘Sailor King’, whose reign saw the modernisation of the political system and the abolition of slavery.

But it was the accession of Queen Victoria, aged only eighteen, that sparked an era of enormous innovation. Technological progress – from steam railways to the first telegram – swept the nation and the finest inventions were showcased at the first Great Exhibition in 1851. The emergence of the middle classes changed the shape of society and scientific advances changed the old pieties of the Church of England, and spread secular ideas across the nation. But though intense industrialization brought boom times for the factory owners, the working classes were still subjected to poor housing, long working hours and dire poverty.

It was a time that saw a flowering of great literature, too. As the Georgian era gave way to that of Victoria, readers could delight not only in the work of Byron, Shelley and Wordsworth but also the great nineteenth-century novelists: the Brontë sisters, George Eliot, Mrs Gaskell, Thackeray, and, of course, Dickens, whose work has become synonymous with Victorian England.

Nor was Victorian expansionism confined to Britain alone. By the end of Victoria’s reign, the Queen was also an Empress and the British Empire dominated much of the globe. And, as Ackroyd shows in this richly populated, vividly told account, Britannia really did seem to rule the waves.

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | HiveWaterstones | WHSmith
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IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Dubray | Eason | Kennys
Australia: (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD Books
New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | Amazon | DymocksWhitcoulls
South Africa: Bookshops (independents) | Amazon | Exclusive Books
Rest of the world: Book Depository | Wordery

Recommended by:
Danuta Kean, Journalist | Book News Correspondent, The Guardian; Books Editor: Mslexia

Danuta is the leading commentator on the UK and global book industry, experienced in a range of subject areas: investigative journalism; celebrity profiles; cultural industries; cultural diversity; change management; pay and employment issues; film and music reviewing; web publishing; retail; magazine editing; contract publishing; radio interviewing; and public speaking. She is a literary and media analyst, specialising in business, marketing, employment, diversity, publishing, politics and the arts.

Bitten by Witch Fever: Wallpaper and Arsenic in the Nineteenth-Century Home
Lucinda Hawksley
(UK: Thames & Hudson@thamesandhudson, 2016; USA: Thames & Hudson, @ThamesHudsonUSA, 2016)

Bitten by Witch Fever presents facsimile samples of 275 of the most sumptuous wallpaper designs ever created by designers and printers of the age, including Christopher Dresser and [William] Morris & Co. For the first time in their history, every one of the samples shown has been laboratory tested and found to contain arsenic. Interleaved with the wallpaper sections, evocative commentary guides you through the incredible story of the manufacture, uses and effects of arsenic, and presents the heated public debate surrounding the use of deadly pigments in the sublime wallpapers of a newly industrialised world.

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith
USA: NewPages (independents) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Hummingbird (ebooks and audiobooks) (independents) | Amazon | Indigo
India: Bookstores in India (independents) | Amazon | Flipkart | Goodreads | SapnaOnline
IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Dubray | Eason
Australia: (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD Books
New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | Amazon | Dymocks | Paper Plus | Whitcoulls
South Africa: Bookshops (independents) | Amazon | Exclusive Books
Rest of the world: Book DepositoryWordery

Recommended by:
Leena Normington, Digital Content Producer | Social Media Producer, Vintage Books; YouTube: Creator for Change Fellow 2017, and Vlogger: Leena Norms (also known as ‘Just Kiss My Frog’)

Leena is an experienced producer of podcasts and online video, media presenter, social media consultant, copywriter and workshop leader. She is one of five winners of the Trailblazer Award in 2019, which celebrates young talent under the age of 30 in publishing. Leena creates content that suits the Vintage PRH imprint’s social platforms. On any given day she’ll be editing a podcast, creating a YouTube video, plotting a thread of tweets or building a fun reading list for the Vintage website. Leena also manages the imprint’s social channels so that it has a constant stream of content being uploaded on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, iTunes, YouTube and more. She makes sure everything is scheduled and looking good; and that Vintage responds to readers’ questions and suggestions.