How is it the end of another month? It goes without saying that I hope you’re all safe and well and coping well during this chaotic time. I’ve been reading, watching and scrolling through plenty of content this month, so wanted to share some of the things I’ve been enjoying and following throughout April.
I also had a great time dressing up as the woman in Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère as part of #betweenartandquarantine – hence the cover photo for this post…
Here’s my monthly round up.
It’s been all about historical fiction (and romance, of course!) this month, with a dash of Jane Austen (including modern adaptations) in there!
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, by Imogen Hermes Gowar
My friend Ruby set up a wonderful book club to discuss this interesting book, which was also attended by Gowar herself. I was particularly drawn to this book as its all about people being fascinated and controlled by curiosities – in this instance, a taxidermy mermaid acquired on a far-flung sea voyage. Gowar has the most beautiful way of writing and describing things – her book is so immersive.
The Austen Girls, by Lucy Worsley
Worsley’s young adult novel (I love a YA novel) about Jane Austen’s nieces Fanny and Anna finding their way within the Regency marriage scene is very enjoyable read. Austen herself is imagined as a wise aunt with a great connection to her nieces, one of whom is super confident in finding a husband, the other timid and unsure of her place in the world. It’s a really fun Austen spin-off.
Polite Society, by Mahesh Rao
Jane Austen’s Emma is brought to life in twenty-first century Delhi with India’s elite by Mahesh Rao in this great book. Ania Khurana is beautiful, clever and bored, and ready to matchmake her new friend after she successfully finds a husband for her maiden aunt. I really enjoyed this adaptation of Emma (which I’ve had on the brain after watching the recent Emma. movie), which demonstrates how timeless Austen’s stories are. Also, Rao’s writing is just stunning, I enjoyed that as much as the plot.
My parents were kind enough so send me the DVDs of the latest series of some of my favourite shows on British TV… so whilst these may seem a little out of date to my British readers, I’ve been binge watching these period dramas this month…
A vicar and a policeman in 1950s Cambridge make an unlikely pair of detectives, but I’ve loved this series ever since it first began with James Norton and Robson Green in the lead roles in 2014, based on the novels by James Runcie. Now Tom Brittney joins Robson Green as vicar Will Davenport, and the latest series was full of romance, mystery and plenty of issues still relevant to the modern viewer. This is not to say it is full of sunshine and roses: Grantchester broaches difficult subjects too, with a particularly heart-breaking story line threading its way through the entirety of this series that makes Will call his judgement and trust into question.
Call the Midwife
The fact this show is now on season nine (with a tenth and eleventh series commissioned) is testament to how brilliant it is. Heart-breaking, uplifting and tear-jerking in equal measures (if I get through an episode without crying at some point, it is an achievement), it follows the work of midwives in London’s east end during the 1960s. Highlighting the struggles of families living close to the breadline in a rapidly changing world, as well as joy and happiness in the arrival of new life, this show is just so wonderful.
Is anyone else completely in love with Lucille and Cyril? And the sweetness of Sister Monica Joan?
I’ve also been sharing ways you can engage with museums and history during lockdown on Instagram – follow me @historylizzie.
My favourite museum from home tours have been:
Want to get up close and personal with the amazing collections and beautiful spaces within the museums? Then head to their website to see virtual tours of places including the Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s Rooms. I spent ages looking at the Sistine ceiling.
This museum in Madrid houses Europe’s largest private art collection, originally assembled by the Thyssen-Bornemisza family. I loved visiting it so much when I went to Madrid and on their website, they have a fantastic tour where you can walk around the museum and zoom in on different art works. Alongside this, you can virtually visit many of their exhibitions, including past ones – I spent ages ‘visiting’ the Balenciaga and Spanish painting exhibition, which is stunning.
What’s the best book you’ve read this month, or film or TV series you’ve watched? Please share all your history-related recommendations with me – both fictional and non-fictional – below!
Also please share your best museum from home activities – I absolutely love them!