Book Reviews: Victorian Murderesses, The Marriage Game, & Creating Business Plans

Hello everyone,

I have read and reviewed three more books for you. Enjoy!

Victorian Murderesses: A True History of Thirteen Respectable French and English Women Accused of Unspeakable Crimes by Mary S. Hartman
If you're interested in gruesome crime tales, where every detail of the murders is minutely and vividly described, this book is not for you. If you're expecting a light, scandalous, and sensationalist account of each crime, you'll be disappointed too. Instead, you'll get something much, much better. In Victorian Murderesses, Hartman uses the stories of 13 British and French ladies accused of murder to take a close look at the role women had in Victorian society, what influence that society had on their lives, how this led to them being accused, something erroneously, of murder, and the impact society's view on women had on the outcomes of their trials. The result is fascinating and will completely change your views on women's lives in the 19th century.
The crimes are only briefly described. Instead, the author focuses on the backgrounds of these women to examine what kind of lives they led, and why they felt they had no option but to commit murder or why they were so easily, albeit wrongly, cast in the role of murderesses. The book is divided in six parts, each of which discusses two cases (one involved two women) that have similarities in common. The cases are listed in chronological order, which allows the readers to see how much the situation of women, and the problems they faced, changed throughout the course of the 19th century. This is also useful to understand how different life for women in England, were they began to emancipate themselves much sooner, and France was.
The book is beautifully written, meticulously researched, and extensively noted. It's a long, scholarly, read, but a very engrossing one too. Yes, it has poison, guns, sex, intrigue, and plots, but these were only small parts of the women's lives, and, unless they were a huge part of their motives, they remain firmly in the background.
Victorian Murderesses is definitely one of the most compelling books that I have read this year. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the lives of Victorian women as well as crime.
Available: Amazon
Rating: 4.5/5

The Marriage Game by Alison Weir
No one ever played the marriage game better than Elizabeth I. Although the Virgin Queen never had any real intentions of getting married, she was great at manipulating all her suitors, be they powerful foreign princes or ambitious English noblemen (including her beloved Robert Dudley), promising them her hand in marriage and then drawing out the negotiations endlessly as a means to secure peace and advantages to England. This is the subject of this book, which starts where The Lady Elizabeth left off, with a young Elizabeth just ascended to the throne.
The first couple of chapters were really boring and slow, with endless discussions about why Elizabeth should get married and very little else. I was almost ready to stop reading, but I'm glad I didn't. Although her councillors, especially Cecil, attempt till the end of her childbearing years to force her to get married to someone (anyone, really), all the problems and events that occurred during her long reign, such as the many plots to put Mary, Queen of Scots, on the throne, the invincible armada, and Elizabeth's visit at Dudley's residence Kenilworth Castle, help speed the plot along and add drama and intrigue to the story.
But the book is also a love story of Elizabeth and Robert Dudley, describing the blossoming of the amorous relationship, and its deterioration as Robert's resentment at Elizabeth's constant promises and refusals to marry him grew. But throughout their ups and downs, the two never stopped loving each other.
I also loved Elizabeth's portrayal. She's capricious, jealous, and selfish, but she's also loyal to those she loves and to her subjects and is always striving to do her best for them. She's a clever and skilled diplomat, but also a woman with deep emotional wounds and fears that prevent her from going through with a marriage plan even when it seems the best choice for her and her country. In the end, the choice to remain a Virgin Queen may have been the right one, but it is clear that has cost her a lot.
Although slow at the beginning, the book is well-written. Weir makes Elizabeth, Robert, Cecil, and the Tudor court, with its intrigues and plots, ambitious upstarts and faithful councillors, come to life. A few times, Weir slipped back into her non-fictional style, telling rather than describing what happened during a certain year. But these slips are, luckily, few and short. Weir tends to be quite faithful to the historical record, although, like all novelists, she takes a few liberties. When she did so, she explained her reasons in an appendix at the end of the book.
The Marriage Game isn't for everyone. If you like fast-paced novels full of plots, secrecy and intrigue, this will likely disappoint you. Instead, this is a novel of Elizabeth's relationship with Dudley, her endless negotiations with her many suitors, and her deeply-rooted fears of marriage. If you always thought someone should have written a novel about that, you should definitely pick up this book.
Available at: amazon
Rating: 4/5

Creating Business Plans by Harvard Business Review
If you're thinking of starting a business or just proposing a new initiative within your organization, then you need a business plans. Without a good, well-crafted one, it's unlikely that you'll get much, if any, support. But creating a good business plan is a difficult, even daunting task. Where to start? By picking up a copy of Creative Business Plans. Part of the 20 Minute Manager series, this is a short book that covers all the basics, such as how to present your idea clearly, how to develop a good business plan, how to project rewards as well as risks, and how to anticipate any concerns your audience may have. It briefly but throughout explains what you should put in each section and then shows you an example of a business plan for a made-up company that you can use to model your own business plan on. Each chapter is straight-to-the-point, so you don't need to navigate through a lot of jibber jabber to find the information you need. Highly recommended.
Available at: Amazon
Rating: 4.5/5

Are you going to pick up any of these?

Disclaimer: I received these books in exchange for my honest opinion. In addition, this post contains affiliate links.