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Twin Personalities or Different Lives?

The Other Me

by

Saskia Sarginson

A NetGalley Review

Have you ever so hated your family and background that you have created a whole new persona? Right down to name, home, family? And maintained it for 2 whole years without a slip?

Well Klaudia Meyer did in this book.

She became Eliza Benet and didn’t reveal who she really was until circumstances forced her into it. Her best friend didn’t know her. Her lover didn’t know her. And she avoided her family in all that time.

This book had sat in my to read pile for several months and for some reason kept slipping off my list and I grasped the new sweetie instead. Which was a shame as although I initially found the book slow and somewhat difficult to follow why I was moving from one character to another and different timelines, it all became clear later why and who these characters were and what their connection to each other was.

I thought that Ernst’s story was perhaps the most compelling as he described in great detail how life was in Germany during the 1920s and 30s on a farm near a small town, for 2 children who had no parents.

The children were placed as foundlings with a farm family and were treated as unpaid servants with sleeping accommodation over the stable unless it really got too cold, and fed after the rest of the family had eaten very sparingly.

The times were hard and difficult on a farm and it was no surprise that the children were drawn to the Hitler youth programmes as a way of establishing an identity. The story makes it quite clear how this movement began to take hold and the how the country began to follow Hitler.

I was interested in the description of the races that they were taught in the school (by nuns no less, who clearly were enthusiastic supporters of all that the Regime wanted). The Eugenics researchers were, at the time, very influential with the Nazis and Hitler as well as Mussolini and felt that the rule of the world was the birthright of those with the best physical and mental stature – the Nordic (sometime referred to as the Aryan) race.

The races were listed as -in order of best to worst – and I really hadn’t heard of most of them so, of course, looked them up.

Wikipedia explains that:

Nazi policy stressed the superiority of the Nordic race, a sub-race of the white European population defined by the measurement of the size and proportions of the human body and each race was given a different amount of food, rights, housing and so on. each race was strictly separated from each other – ghettoed in effect. This was part of some early anthropological and eugenics research that claimed by measuring certain physical characteristics people could be defined. They could then be determined as to what they could undertake in the way of jobs etc. Nordic characteristics being prized for breeding purposes of course in order to improve the general population.

The Nordic, or superior race, was a person with light-coloured hair, light-coloured eyes, fair skin, long and narrow skulls and tall stature.  They were supposed to be universally  truthful, equitable, competitive, naïve, reserved and individualistic.

Dinaric was a mixed type consisting of Nordic race and Armenoid race who have a slightly darker pigmentation.

Falic or Phalic race as described by Hans Friedrich Karl Günther as being inferior to Nordic and Dinaric and consisting of a defined height and stature,being robust and heavily built, with a rosy skin, blond hair, light eyes (blue, grey or green), big mouth and thin lips.

Ostic race is often refierred as the Alpine race and is defined as:

A typical Alpine skull is therefore regarded as broad-headed As well as being broad in the crania, this thickness appears generally elsewhere, as Hans Günther describes:

…the Alpine race is thick-set and broad. The average height of the Alpine man is about 1.63 metres. This small height is brought about by the relatively short, squat legs. This broadness and shortness is repeated in all the details: in the broadness of the hand and its short fingers, in the short, broad feet, in the thick, short calves.

Ost-Baltic has a medium to low stature, fair skin, strong build, brachycephallic (broad) skull, light hair and eyes.

Slavs were unternmenshcen or sub-human and thus ripe for slavery and exploitation. They were of a racially mixed “Asiatic” type. Barbarians and read for ethnic cleansing.

Not mentioned in the book was the Mediterranean race with low stature, brown skin, physical constitution varying from gracile to slender, straight nose, regular features, dolicocephallic, dark hair and eyes. Doliocephalic means that the head is longer than would be expected, relative to its width as with the skulls of Neanderthals.

There are various other racial ‘types’that the Eugenicists also described and the late 19th century the science was much admired in many parts of the world.

So, what do I finally think of this book? I was conflicted. Was it a 4 star or was it a 5 star? So 4.5 is the compromise.

 

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Enter New York

Meet Me in Manhattan

by

Claudia Carroll

A NetGalley Review

A gentle and thoughtful romance story of a somewhat broken young woman and her dating disasters. P1030456

One of the best points about this book was the discussion of the catfishing. A term I had not heard of before. So in my usual researcher fashion I set out to explore the perils of online dating and just what catfishing was all about.

The Urban Dictionary told me that catfishing was:

The phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time).

Possible motivations: revenge, loneliness, curiosity, boredom

The term catfishing was inspired by the 2010 documentary “Catfish.

Wikipedia has a slightly different definition:

Catfishing is a type of deceptive activity involving a person creating a sock puppet social networking network for nefarious purposes.

A ‘sock puppet’?!  A sock puppet being a false identity.

Now I have heard about people who scam lonely women into giving up cash but hadn’t realised that it went further than that but I can quite see how it could. It is very easy to have multiple identities online – I have several usernames for instance, depending on whether I want the site viewers to link my comments to my own identity. Although I doubt that it fools those really into the internet and if you wanted you could investigate my life online and find out a lot about me and my family. As even though I have cautious about putting my personal life online my children have pages and their details are there and I am sure you could link them easily if you wanted to.

Back to the phenomenon of catfishing though.

A Huffington Post article from last year agrees that we all (?) tend to add some inches (men) to our height and lose some weight (Women) on our profiles but that apart from posting some really flattering photos, possibly from a few years back, most of us are reasonably accurate I our descriptions of ourselves.

The Daily Titan warned people earlier this year to be cautious about online dating. They suggest that Skyping etc would be a good tactic and trawling through people’s social history would be useful (check them up on Facebook for instance?). But in the book, they had many phone calls which could have alerted our heroine but seemed so reassuring and genuine.

However, nearly all the articles are warning about the money scam aspect rather than the emotional fallout from being duped by someone for their ‘fun’. And in this book we see that the emotional fallout can be much greater. People become very cautious about interacting with others and lose their trust.

So is this a good book – yes but very much chick lit and thus a quick read and with a nice uplifting ending but I won’t say what…

 

 

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Congregate if you dare

A NetGalley review of

The Congregation

by

Desiree Bombenon.

A congregation of the abused, strong in their determination to channel their emotional hurt into something positive –  for them – but in reality a destructive act of great consequences.

A story of just what lengths people will go when they have been hurt by those they trusted. From the child battered by a parent; to a child abused by a person in a position of trust suh as a priest or social worker; to a wife beaten on a regular absis by her abusive controlling husband; all will go to extreme lengths to demonstrate just how damaged they are by what has happened to them.

The legacy of such tragedy goes on echoing down the generations and the Roman Catholic Church still has not fully answered for its sins – or so those in the Congregation would attest.

In Chicago, there were a number of allegations of sexual and physical abuse in the RC church carried out by priets of varying ranks. So much so that  Andrew Greeley wrote The Priestly Sins (2004), a novel about a young priest from the Plains States who is exiled to an insane asylum and then to an academic life because he reports abuse that he has witnessed.

Fall from Grace is a 1993 novel by Father Greeley. It is a story of sin and corruption in leading Irish Catholic families in Chicago and the cover up of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. [Wikipedia]

It is clear from records now released that the RC church including Jesuits and schools in Chicago hid the behaviour of priests such as  Donald McGuire and Daniel McCormack who are now convicted. So the setting was very important for this novel.

The other issue that drives tis story is the church’s stance on homosexuality. Apparently, it is OK to have such thoughts, but not to act on them.  Between 20 and 60 percent of all Catholic priests are gay, according to one estimate cited by Donald Cozzens in his book The Changing Face of the Priesthood. This is a higher percentage than in the general population and there has been much speculation that a gay lobby exists within the Vatican power brokers. Nevertheless, being known to be gay in the priesthood, is a recipe for blackmail and so we see in this story also.

These are both very important issues and either would have made for a great thriller by other authors, but this story lacks tension and insufficient complications and mis-directions to provide for a really satisfactory read. Thi is sad as the auhor has picked a great possibility but has not followed through. We found out the perpetrators too early and the hero/heroine had too little to do to unravel the plot.

So this is a light version of a conspiracy novel that would work for those not familiar for the genre and wanting an introduction but for me lacked depth.

 

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Enter the Angel when the winds are rising

A review of The oncoming storm: bk 1 in Angel in the Whirlwind series.

by

Christopher Nuttall

This was my first experience of a book by Nuttall – who is quite prolific – and I was impresssed. So much so that I have pre-ordered the next in the series.

Am i getting soft in my choices I wonder? but no, I am not giving this book 5 stars, only 4 but interesting enough in premises and story-line that I wanted to read more.

spaceFar far into our future Earth has been destroyed. Gone through warfare and no-one lives there any more.

Humans have scattered across many worlds – with varying degrees of technological capacity depending on who settled them and what with. Sects and cults are still with us though as are religious wars. Can we never learn? And just what is this new religion, that is so zealous and so reminiscent of a nasty cross between the Taliban and the Roman Catholic Church at the time of the Inquisitors? Inquisitors with torture again and women once more to be forever hidden from view and disregarded and unable to participate in life.

Here we have a story of Galactic wars with a twist. A twist for women. The hero is actualy a heroine. Nice contrast of course with the new religion (I think there is a hint of what it is at the end of the book but I need it confirmed before I write a spoiler, but if I am right, it is just an old religion made new).

In the heroine’s culture women are equal and allowed to fight hand to hand and on the front line. and that gives her an advantage, an edge against this new religion and their leaders s they underestimate her and her capabilities.

She is feisty and strong in intellect even if not funny, and I want to command a space ship too… although being in charge of all those weapons would not suit me – I want to ban the bomb after all…

So yes, I have ordered the next book and wait to find out how the war progresses and just how sneaky women who are locked up can be…(ref Princesses).

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Unsung Heroines:Betty, Flora, Jessie and more

‘There’s the girl who clips your ticket for the train,
And the girl who speeds the lift from floor to floor,
There’s the girl who does a milk-round in the rain,
And the girl who calls for orders at your door.
Strong, sensible, and fit,
They’re out to show their grit,
And tackle jobs with energy and knack.
No longer caged and penned up,
They’re going to keep their end up
‘Til the khaki soldier boys come marching back.

There’s the motor girl who drives a heavy van,
There’s the butcher girl who brings your joint of meat,
There’s the girl who calls ‘All fares please!’ like a man,
And the girl who whistles taxi’s up the street.
Beneath each uniform
Beats a heart that’s soft and warm,
Though of canny mother-wit they show no lack;
But a solemn statement this is,
They’ve no time for love and kisses
Till the khaki soldier boys come marching back.

Jessie Pope wrote this poem in 1916/7 to let people know about all the jobs that women were doing then that seemed to be hidden from open view. All the jobs that they were capable of, and that men had not thought that they could do.

I thought that I would write about a couple of the type of women mentioned in the poem, that I have found out about. there are a great many resourceso n this topic available now but I could not cover every such woman, so I just picked a few interesting ones – to me at any rate!

The first is Betty Stevenson. She was a YMCA volunteer who went to France to help in the rest huts provided for front line troops. Around 40,000 women served as volunteers for the YMCA during the First World War, providing their own expenses as well as being unpaid.

Betty drove lorries from the stores to the huts providing food, and transporting relatives to injured soldiers. She also drove food out to refugees which was how she finally died during an air raid. The French Govt awarded her the Croix De Guerre.

The only woman soldier enlisted in the British Army managed the feat by passing herself off as a man.  Dorothy Lawrence, a 20-year-old ambitious journalist, joined in 1915 the B.E.F. Tunnelling Company using the alias Denis Smith, aided by some sympathetic men. [http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/womenww1_one.htm]

During the First World War, Kathleen Scott transported cars and ambulances to France, helped in a French Army hospital in a chateau in France – which she located – recruited her friends to war work, worked in the Vickers Factory in Erith making electrical coils and worked with plastic surgeons on the re-creation of badly disfigured faces.

Mary Borden set up a mobile hospital unit on the Western Front that nursed soldiers wounded in Ypres and Somme with her own money. She served as a nurse until the end of war.

Dame Helen Charlotte Isabella Gwynne-Vaughan became the Controller of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in France. She also became the first woman to receive a military Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1918. Dame Gwynne-Vaughan served as Commandant of the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF) from September 1918 until December 1919.

There was Evelina Haverfield  who founded the Women’s Emergency Corps. In 1915, she volunteered to join the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in Serbia as a nurse. in contrast Dr. Elsie Inglis fought against the prejudice against female doctors and started the Scottish Women’s Hospital Unit, one of the few female medical units on the front.

Helen Fairchild staffed a medical unit at the Western front at Passchendaele in Belgium whilst Julia Hunt Catlin Taufflieb converted the Chateau d’Annel into a 300-bed hospital on the front line.

Lucy London has created a great list on her blog of the Inspirational Women who worked during World War One. which I am copying here. http://inspirationalwomenofww1.blogspot.co.uk/2013_09_01_archive.html

Anna Airy (1882 – 1964) British Artist.  One of the first women to be commissioned as a war artist
Mildred Aldrich (1853 – 1928) America writer.  Lived in Paris for 16 years prior to WW1, retired to the Marne in July 1914 and wrote about her “Little House on The Marne” in the early days of the war.
Clare Atwood (1866 – 1962) British Artist
Gertrude Bell – British spy (and a lot more – do read her biography , it is fascinating. Lots of stuff about deserts and sheiks!
Lady Blomfield (1859 – 1939) born Ireland
Maria Bochkareva – Russian woman soldier – recruited over 2,000 women into the Russian Army
Mary Booth (1869 – 1956) – Australian Pyhsician and Welfare Worker
Maude Bruce – forewoman at Munitions Factory in Gretna, awarded medal for extreme bravery
Lady Elizabeth Butler (b. 1846) – military artist/illustrator – sister of Alice Meynell the poet
The Dick Kerr’s Ladies Football Team – Dick Kerr’s Factory, Preston – raised large sums of money for the war effort by playing football, organising matches after their factory shifts were over
Dora Carrington – artist
Edith Cavell – British nurse shot as a spy for helping British soldiers to escape after the early battles of the War
Dorothy J. Coke – artist
Maria Corelli (1855 – 1924)  – British novelist who sold more books than Conan Doyle, Wells and Kipling combined;  9 films were made of her novels
Dorothy Crewdson (b. 1886) – British nurse
Marie Curie – created mobile radiography units for use in WW1
Margaret Damar Dawson – woman police officer in munitions factory
Janet Daniels – Munitions factory worker – awarded medal for extreme bravery
Joyce Dennys (1893 – 1991) – served as a VAD in Cornwall – War Artist for the “Daily Sketch”
Jessica Dismorr (1885 – 1939) – British painter/illustrator (Vorticist Movement) served as a VAD, nursing in France
Olive Edis (1876 – 1955) – Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society 1914 – Official War artist
Helen Fairchild (died 7th July 1917) – American – assigned to duty as a nurse in France 7th July 1917, died 18th January 1918
Elsie Mabel Gladstone – British nurse, killed in WW1 (buried Belgrade Cemetery, Namur, Belgium)
Norah Neilso Gray (1882 – 1931) – war artist
Margaret Haig Thomas (1883 – 1958) – Welsh – saved with her Father from the Lusitania
Mary Riter Hamilton – Canadian artist who went to paint the Aftermath in Flanders
Zora Neale Hurston (1891 – 1960) – American writer
Dr. Elsie Inglis (1864 – 1917) – Scottish doctor and suffragist; founded Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service in WW1 (France, Serbia and Russia) and went to Serbia to run a hospital
Elsie Janis – American entertainer who went to entertain the troops in France/Belgium
Gwen John – War Artist
M. Jones – nurse – described air raids in Salonika
Lucy Elizabeth Kemp-Welch (1869 – 1958) – military artist
Bahiyyih Khanum (1846 – 1932) daughter of the founder of the Baha’i Faith – imprisoned in 1867 at the age of 21 and freed in 1980.
Olive May Kelson King (1885 – 1958) – Australian.  Funded and drove ambulances in France and Serbia.
Dame Laura Knight (nee Johnson) – (1877 – 1970) – British war artist
Ellen La Motte – American nurse who wrote about her experiences in WW1
Dorothy Lawrence – British Journalist – enlisted in BEF Tunnelling Company as Denis Smith in 1915
Flora Lion (1878 – 1958) – British artist commissioned by Ministry of Information to paint factory scenes
Elizabeth Lucas (wife of poet E.V. Lucas) – founded a children’s home behind the lines in France WW1
Misstanguett – (1875 – 1956) French entertainer and spy WW1
Olive Mudie-Cooke – British artist – drove ambulances in France and Italy WW1
Rose O’Neil (1874 – 1944) – American sculptor, suffragist, inventor, novelist, poet, musician, creator of Kewpie dolls
Gabrielle Petit (1893 – 1916) – Belgian spy – executed
Ellie Annie Rout (1877 – 1936) – New Zealand – pioneer in sexual transmitted diseases in WW1
Helen Saunders – artist
Kathleen Scott ((1878 – 1947) – sculptor. Wife of the explorer Captain Scott of the Antarctic (later Baroness Kennet).  Among other things, she worked on innovative plastic surgery treatments WW1
Nellie Spindler – British nurse killed i WW1 on the Western Front (buried Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium)
Mabel Annie St Clair Stobart (1862 – 1954) Founder of The Women’s Sick and Wounded Convoy Corps who organised hospitals in France and Belgium for St. John’s Ambulance  in WW1
Elizabeth Ann Slater Weaver (1878 – 1956) – housewife/weaver who lived in Burnley, Lancashire
Bertha (Betty) Stevenson (1896 – 1918) – British – YMCA volunteer killed in the line of duty May 1918 and buried with full military honours in Etaples Military Cemetery
Mrs Mary Humphrey Ward (1851 – 1920) – first woman journalist to visit the Western Front trenches
Maria Yurlova – Armenian Cossack Soldier
Clara Zetkin – Founder of International Women’s Movement

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