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BBC’s The White Queen Episode Eight Review

I’m sorry that these next three reviews of the final episodes of The White Queen are late, but I have been away and was unable to watch it until now. Most of you readers are probably ahead of me by now, but I will try and catch up as quickly as I can and review the last three episodes. I will warn you, there are going to be spoilers in this review, especially seeing as I am so late in writing this.

So what happened in this episode? We see the king, Edward, die and the mourning that ensues, I have to say, I was also tearing up whilst everyone was saying goodbye. In Edward’s last wishes he wanted his son, also named Edward (those medieval king’s didn’t want to make it easy for us historians) to become king on his death and he appoints his brother, Richard of York, to be his Lord Protector. This horrifies Elizabeth, understandably she wanted her brother to look after her son until he is old enough to rule. But, historically we know that when a king dies, unless the son is strong and of age then there is tension in the realm, and that is the case here. So here is where the episode gets interesting, I was quite on edge, despite having read the books and knowing the history. Through his power, Richard is put on the throne, and his wife is none other than Warwick’s daughter, her father would have been incredibly proud I’m sure, and the look on her face tells the viewers she knows this.

So what happens to Elizabeth now her enemy is on the throne, sanctuary of course, she heads back to Westminster Abbey, but will this be enough to keep her sons safe? Factually, we don’t know what happened to the Princes in the Tower, there are a few options, they were murdered, probably by Richard, this is probably quite a popular belief, I’m inclined to believe it. For someone who wants the throne, if there were two boys in the way, killing them is the obvious option (not that I am condoning this behaviour). However, there are rumours, and the programme makes this very clear, that one of the boys, if not both of them, weren’t Elizabeth’s true sons, and that she switched them for servants sons. This is good for Elizabeth, but not so much for the innocent boys and their families. It is one of those things that will remain a mystery and there will always be speculation about what happened to the two boys in the tower.

Now an unusual truce forms in this episode between Elizabeth and Margaret Beaufort, Margaret puts her life on the line for this truce as it is now considered treason, we shall see how this develops in the next couple of episodes.

Lastly, we see that Elizabeth’s daughter, Elizabeth, (are we surprised), has a vision, she has the sight, which her mother and grandmother both had. This vision shows her mother as caring more for the crown than the love of her children, which I have to say I may well agree. Elizabeth will become a more prominent figure in the next couple of episodes, as those of you who have read the books will know.

And, for Doctor Who fans, a mention has to go out to Lord Buckingham, played by Arthur Darvill, it actually took me a while before I realised it was him. It’s great to see him back on our screens and in something completely different.

So that is episode eight, two more to go, I am excited for the last two, they should contain a lot more drama than we have been seeing.



Review – Doomed Queens by Kris Waldherr

I picked up this book expecting something a little bit different and that is certainly what I got with Doomed Queens by Kris Waldherr. The author does all the artwork in the book, which I think is very good. She obviously enjoys it and is talented, however, the writing, I must admit, I did not like so much.

Doomed Queens goes through history discussing royal women of the past and their sticky ends, most quite young. We see how these royal women lost their heads, were poisoned, committed suicide or died in childbirth. From ancient empresses, Medieval Queens, Renaissance wives and modern women, we follow them on their journey, which ended quite suddenly.

I like the idea of this book, it seems a good book for people who don’t know all that much about history, or for those who want a general overview of these queens. There are two pages for each royal, is two pages enough for say the life of Anne Boleyn or Marie Antoinette, probably not, but I guess with many women to get through, two pages is all they get.

I hate to say it, but I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped to. I found it very childish, there are quizzes after each chapter and art activities to do, for me, that should be in the children’s learning section rather than the adult history section. I guess some people may like it, but I certainly don’t. Then there was the tone of the book, it was very familiar, Waldherr uses the term ‘knocked up’ to describe a pregnant queen, now it may just be me being traditional, but I wouldn’t even use that term for my friend, let alone royalty, however ancient. I found the book frustrating, and struggled to get to the end. When I did get to the end I came across Princess Diana’s entry, I’m not sure she should even be in a book called doomed queen’s, but there she is, again, a familiar tone for the death of a woman who was loved by the British people and not even 20 years has passed since her death.

So, I would say, read it if you want to, if you like familiarity and want a broad knowledge of some of the queens of history, but, if you are like me and want something a bit meatier, I would certainly avoid this book.

Cloud Atlas – The film or the book?

I have finished Cloud Atlas, a novel by David Mitchell, and having watched the film, starring Tom Hanks and many others, I feel that I need to write a post comparing the two. This post will be a book review, film review and a comparison of the two.

First up is the book, this took me a while to read, it comprises of many little books entwined together in a bigger novel. It was clever and allowed the reader to link these stories and see what they can between them. The stories are told in parts, going through history to the future, with the final story being whole and then going back through time, finishing the stories. The first story is set in the past, in the Pacific, a doctor and a Adam Ewing, a notary are on a ship together, they witness slavery and religion and Adam has to make a choice that lives depend on. This story has part one at the start of the novel and part two at the end, Adam becomes increasingly ill with a parasitic worm, luckily for him, the doctor is treating him, but as his condition worsens, suspicions rise. His writing is in the style of a diary.

The second story is more recent, set in-between WWI and WWII, about a young bisexual musician, Robert Frobisher, he is working in Belgium for an old dying composer, but has a relationship with Rufus Sixsmith back in England, but also falls in love along the way in Belgium. He is reading Ewing’s diary during his stay, which in part two turns sour. We find his story in the form of letters sent to Sixsmith.

The third story is set in California in the 1970’s, and is written like a mystery novel. It features Luisa Rey and also Sixsmith, whom she meets and offers her services as a journalist, he obliges but what he tells her has a disastrous effect on her career, her life and the lives of those around her. A report Sixsmith has written damning the nuclear power plant as being unsafe, but some people do not want the authorities to know about it.

The next story is my favourite; it is about a publisher called Timothy Cavendish, and is set in modern day England. Cavendish comes into some financial troubles and goes to his brother for help, however, his brother tricks him into entering a nursing home, part two sees us plan for his escape, while coming across Luisa Rey’s mystery book.

The fifth story is a futuristic Korea, in which clones are required to serve in a fast food restaurant, but sometimes, one or two become intelligent and think for themselves. Somni is one of them, and so she is sent to a university, for experimentation, but she secretly learns. While there, she watches a film, The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish. She is rescued from the university by Hae-Joo, and they have to run from the authorities, many people want Somni for many reasons. In part two we see the real reason Somni is needed. The way in which this story is told is through questions and answers from an archivist, a futuristic way of making sure details of everything are made for the future.

The final story is in the middle of the book and told in one. It is far in the future, civilisation has almost died out, but there live a few tribes on Hawaii, one tribe is friendly, they are simple, they farm, trade and barter and worship a goddess called Somni, but they are faced with a danger, another tribe, the Kona, who attack and take prisoner many of the peaceful folk. Zachry loses his father and brother to this tribe, but his life changes when a Prescient, Meronym, comes to Hawaii. Prescients come to trade with the valley people on Hawaii, they have technology and medicine that the tribal people can’t even dream of. Meronym wants to stay with them for a year to study them and the island and stays with Zachry and his family. Most of her time goes by peacefully, but when the Kona strike everything is turned upside down and the truth about the Prescients is revealed. The language used is how the tribe speak, and is difficult to keep up with, but is also clever, I think it is an interpretation of how we will speak in the future, a shortened version of how we speak now.

Are you still with me?! This is a confusing novel, I found the film makes it slightly easier to comprehend, but I still had to look at some interpretations online to help me.

The film goes through each story with far less detail, but uses the same actors for some characters so it flows through, it stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae and Ben Whishaw, a fairly all star cast. The film jumps between stories, showing the links between them, but still keeps the stories the same, but does it in a way that is easier to film than to write. I think the acting is good, the film is comical as well as thought provoking and the way in which it is portrayed is excellent, well worth watching.

The book and the film are hard to compare, although they tell the same story they do so in a different way, and so I would recommend trying to watch the film and read the book to get the two views.

Family History and Who Do You Think You Are

I know it sounds like I am a bit of a BBC fan at the moment, but please can you forgive me, after all, I am British! ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ is a long running programme looking at the ancestry of celebrities. I love watching it and it always inspires me to look into my own family history, but with time being short I have only ever done it half-heartedly, one day I will manage it fully.

Who Do You Think You Are is back on the BBC at the moment, the first episode has featured Una Stubbs, star of Sherlock, as she traces her family back through the generations and discovers how her grandparents on both sides almost met. Apparently, more celebrities take part in the programme than we see, but they pick the most interesting stories. There are always some good war stories, heroes, pioneers and poverty. Those still taking part in the current series include Nigel Havers, Gary Lineker, Nick Hewer, and Sarah Millican, among others.

This series is great for inspiring people to look into their family history, and also provides them advice on how to go about it as they begin their journey. There is information on the BBC’s website on starting to look into family history as well.

For me, my family history is important to me, which is why I’m disappointed that I haven’t been able to research it well yet. Knowing one’s family history means that you can see where you have come from, and often on this programme there are similarities between the person now and their ancestors.

To begin, finding out as much as possible is necessary, talk to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to get names and dates of everyone they know, pictures are always a nice touch, but hard to come by. Then, using an ancestry website the information can be used to find these people on paper, look at the census entries for them, their births, deaths and marriages. The online service does cost, but if you are committed I’m sure the outcome is worth it.

So, have a watch of Who Do You Think You Are and see if it inspires you, like it does me, to research your own family.

Here are some links to get you going.

Luray Caverns, Virginia

Recently, I took a trip to the Luray Caverns in Virginia, discovered in 1878, the caverns boast to be the biggest and most spectacular on the eastern coast of the US. It is situated close to Shenandoah National Park, which is a natural beauty in itself. These caverns are popular, so much so that we were queuing for an hour to get in having paid $24 per person. It seems expensive at first, but when you realise that you get an hour’s tour of the caverns, entry to the car and carriage museum and the Luray Valley Museum, all of which is onsite, it looks a bit better.

After getting into the caverns, there is a climb down the steps to get deep enough to see the formations. A tour guide explains the history of the caverns and other interesting facts about its lifetime as you walk round. The walk takes about an hour, and it is in no way taxing, there are some incredible stops on the way. There is a large section of water, around half way through, and it is so still, that you can see the reflections of the stalactites up above, and it makes it look as though the water is incredibly deep, and pointy. Continuing through, you see some amazing formations, and it almost looks as if you are on the set of a Lord of the Rings movie. One of the final points on the tour is also one of the best. It contains the world’s largest musical instrument; this is an organ, placed in the caverns, and many sensors placed around the caverns. When a drop of water hits the sensors, it corresponds to a note on the organ, and so music is made. We listened to a beautiful recording made simply by water falling.

After returning to the surface via the stairs, there is a gift shop, selling all kinds of things connected to Virginia and the caverns. Once all this is over, there is still more to do! The Car and Carriage Museum is next on the list, this museum has, as you would imagine, cars and carriages in it, they are all very old, and very impressive, this museum is small and doesn’t take more than 10-15 minutes to walk through, but it is worth having a look at, especially if you are a car enthusiast. By the time we had completed these two attractions, we didn’t have time for the Luray Valley Museum, which looks again small but worth the trip and contains a copy of a Swiss Bible from 1536.

Finally, if you still have the time and energy, there are a few more things to check off the list, the first is a maze, which does cost extra, but I assume children would appreciate running around in an attempt to find their way out. Then there is the homemade fudge, made on site; it must be worth a try. Finally, there is a café for those who simply need a sit down, which I assure you, you will after all that excitement!

So, the caverns look like a fun day out, and it will take the whole day. If by chance you do have time to spare, why not drive along the skyline drive at Shenandoah National Park to see some amazing views across some of Virginia.

Game of Thrones Season One Review

Game of Thrones seems to have gripped people everywhere, the UK, the US and Europe are all watching it, and currently are waiting for the fourth season to start. Unfortunately, I am a bit late to the trend, but finally, I have caught up on all three seasons and seeing as it appears to be part of the culture at the moment, and it is vaguely historical, I will write a review of the three seasons to date. Seeing as only a few people have not watched Game of Thrones, I will be writing of the content of the show, so there will be SPOILERS…you have been warned!

The first season is based on the first book by George R.R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire, I haven’t read it, but after watching the TV show I plan to. In this first season we are introduced to the House of Stark, who feature in the whole season. There is Eddard, the head, played by Sean Bean, accompanied by his wife, two daughters, three sons and one illegitimate child. Struggling to keep up already? I was! The King, Eddard’s friend Robert Baratheon with his wife, a member of the Lanniston family, along with their son, and various other siblings of the Lannisters arrive at Winterfell, home to the Starks. Unfortunately, this is where it goes downhill for the Stark’s. Eddard Stark is persuaded to go back with the King, to be the King’s Hand, and his eldest daughter is to be married to the King’s son. However, soon after arriving at the home of the King, King’s Landing, the King dies, and Eddard discovers incriminating evidence against the Lannister family, that the King’s son is in fact the child of an incestual affair between Cersei and Jamie Lannister. Eddard is accused of treason and at the end of the season, loses his head.

Meanwhile, we meet another house, the Targaryens, Daenerys Targaryen marries Khal Drogo, the head of a warrior tribe, at first she doesn’t like him or the ways of the tribe, but as the season goes on, she slowly falls in love. The last piece of the plot line is the wall, which is a massively high wall of ice, beyond the wall are things unknown, but are known to be dangerous, and so the Night’s Watch is sworn to guard this wall, this is where Jon Snow, the illegitimate child of Eddard Stark goes. If you are still keeping up, the next season brings in more houses and more characters, and you may be lost then!

This season is entertaining, each episode is an hour and there are ten episodes per season, which is quite a lot of viewing time. The actors are all pretty good, and the sets and costumes are even better. I think the imagination going into the different places, costumes and hair are excellent, whether this is on the part of the author or director I don’t know, but it is good. It can get confusing though, the story line is complex, and needs concentration, there are a vast number of characters in different areas, and it only gets worse in the following seasons. Maybe reading he book would help, I don’t know, but I will try.

On to other things in the season, there is violence, there is sex (and a lot of it too) and there is heartache. This season will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions, and the final episode is fairly shocking. But, it is worth watching, it’s not the best show on TV, but it’s not the worst, the one thing I don’t understand is the hype around it, yes it’s good, but not the most amazing thing ever. Watch it, see what you think, or if you have watched it then let me know what you think.

BBC’s The White Queen Episode Seven Review

We are on to episode seven of the White Queen, I believe that there are 10 episodes, so we are not far from the end now. This episode sees some new problems for Edward, Elizabeth and those at the court around them. I enjoyed this episode, it felt a bit more fast moving, more drama and less hanging around waiting for husbands to return.

This episode sees a few new arrivals, Elizabeth gives birth, Anne Neville has had a baby, as has Isabelle, unfortunately for Isabelle, her child is a girl, which of course is not the required gender for George. With Elizabeth’s mother dead, she is concerned for the birth, the first one she has had to endure since her mother’s death, and therefore the only one without her. The baby comes, but Margaret Beaufort is on hand to help when the baby doesn’t cry.

Because of the birth, Elizabeth now favours Margaret, and we can almost see a friendship forming, but of course, Margaret is doing this in order to help her son. We see Margaret almost spying for Elizabeth, while also telling her husband what she has overheard, and he has the ear of the king. Margaret even has a chance to pray with Elizabeth and at the end of the episode her hard work pays off.

Meanwhile, the York brothers are bickering amongst themselves. Edward goes to France, to invade, but Elizabeth persuades him to have peace and talk with the King of France instead of using violence. George is unhappy with this, he wanted to have more power than he does, and so he exacts revenge on Edward and Elizabeth, but both he and his wife pay the price for this. George is also unhappy that Richard married Anne, George wants his inheritance money and he wants more than half. We have to remember here that the Earl of Warwick, the Kingmaker, was an incredibly wealthy man, more so than even the king, and wealth can bring much power, as we have seen. To avoid having Anne’s inheritance being stolen, Richard brings her mother to Warwick Castle, something Anne is extremely unhappy about, but it is, we are led to believe, in her best interests.

Elizabeth is repeatedly accused of witchcraft in this episode, an accusation has been aimed at her mother before, who managed, somehow to escape with her life. Elizabeth, although the queen, is not completely protected, but luckily Edward is on her side. Understandably, neither Edward or Elizabeth were happy about these accusations, and at the end of the episode, Elizabeth’s views on it become clear.

As I have mentioned before, Elizabeth is again a bit whiney in this episode, she wants peace, she doesn’t want Edward to go to France, she wants revenge, she wants something done when she is not respected. At one point, Edward tells her she must rise above and do nothing. I was so glad for this. I feel that most medieval queen’s would have been fairly submissive to their husband’s, and in fact upper class medieval women would have been. Or maybe that is the impression we get when in actual fact they weren’t. Either way, I feel that Elizabeth can’t afford to annoy Edward, seeing as he is the only one who can protect her from any witchcraft accusation. In my opinion, she would be wise to take Edward’s advice.

So this episode has it all, war, which turns into peace, revenge, death and new life, with some scheming Yorkists and Lancastrians in-between. Worth a watch and a lot better than last week!

The Culture Girl is on Facebook!

This is an administrative post really, not much about culture, unless of course you count Facebook as culture, which I think it is really seeing as it is a massive part of many people’s daily lives! Sometimes I do wonder what people will think of us in 100 years.

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Here is the page, in all its glory.

I will be using my Facebook page for surveys, little bits of information and of course announcing when I am posting a new blog post.

If you want to keep up with the latest from me, the culture girl, then please do check out my Facebook page!

The Royal Baby has arrived

Now, I know this is a topic that many people are celebrating, but some don’t want to hear any more about it. But, I am the culture girl, and I like tradition and my studies do take me to learning about the monarchy, even thought they were very different 800 years ago, so I am going to do a short post on the arrival of the royal baby!

On Monday the 22nd of July, crowds gathered outside St Mary’s hospital, along with the press who had been there for weeks now, waiting, and crowds lined the gates at Buckingham Palace, waiting for the arrival of the royal baby.

At around 5.30am, the Duchess of Cambridge was driven by her husband, Prince William, to St Mary’s hospital, and following an eleven hour labour she delivered a baby boy. We don’t know the name yet, apparently Charles doesn’t know yet, but we soon will. The Duchess will be leaving the hospital either today or tomorrow, and hopefully we will get a glimpse of the future King. I am slightly disappointed the baby wasn’t a girl, a Queen would have been nice, and of course, to really show that the new law was in place, a girl and then a boy would have been perfect, but a healthy baby is all any mother wants.

We shall now wait and watch, because this baby will be watched all of it’s life. I hope that the Duke and Duchess can give him some form of a normal upbringing, and that he won’t be hounded by the press as his mother his.

What do you think of the royal baby, unnecessary hype, or cause for national celebration?

BBC’s The White Queen Episode Six Review

I must begin with a warning, there will be spoilers in this review, now for this episode, episode six, but instead for the past five episodes, particularly episode five. So now that the formalities are done with, I can move onto the review.

The last episode of The White Queen ended on a rather interesting note, Elizabeth hears her husband has left their bed and so follows him, what she finds shocks her, and quite right too. She sees Edward and his two brothers enter Henry VI’s room and she watches from the door as Edward smothers him, and kills him. He had his reasons, I’m sure, he needed to secure his throne after all that had gone on, the next heir to throne after Henry VI, if we disregard Edward and his newborn son, is Henry Tudor, son of Margaret Beaufort, as such, Jasper Tudor, takes Henry to exile in France, where he shall be safe. Probably a good move on their part, so he will not share the same fate as Henry VI.

This episode features Anne Neville quite a lot, we left her at the last episode as a traitor of sorts, because of her husband’s actions, but Richard, Edward’s brother, takes her under his wing, and back to court to face Edward. In this episode, we see her standing in front of the King, begging for his forgiveness and swearing her loyalty. If this event actually happened, she would still have been in her teens when she had to come before the King, with the possibility of being called a traitor, a label, which could carry a death sentence, so she must have been utterly terrified. The poor girl had been forced to leave England, then forced to marry a traitor, she then lost her father, and now, has to go back to court to face the King. Back to the program, she is put in a position that essentially leaves her a prisoner, until she gets an offer she simply can’t refuse, one that will change her life. This episode shows that Anne is a strong woman, willing to fight for what she wants, and deserves, she is not a girl any more who can be pushed around, we can assume that spending time with Margaret of Anjou has rubbed off on her.

Elizabeth, Edward’s wife, the Queen, has some mixed emotions in this episode, she finds out that she is pregnant, once again, and her mother is sure that it is another boy. Boys are always good, the more boys, the more secure the throne is. However, throughout her pregnancy, tragedy strikes close to home, twice and Edward rushes to be by her side and support her. Elizabeth in this episode doesn’t seem happy with anything that happens at court, she isn’t happy about Edward’s decision on Anne, or the fact that her son is to go to Ludlow, which is royal tradition. I kind of think she needs to stop whining, she is Queen, and as such she needs to act like one, she has to obey her husband, not just because he is her husband, but because he is her King. She has to conform to tradition, which she must have known going into her marriage, and of course, that peace is of far higher importance than personal comfort.

I’m not as impressed by this episode as I have been with the first five. I feel it was rather jumpy, with small details happening, but nothing big. It feels fairly repetitive and not as entertaining as the others. One other thing I noticed, was the crowns of Edward and Elizabeth, they are wearing their crowns during the scene in which Anne is begging for forgiveness. The crowns look as if a child has made them out of plastic gems and gold cardboard, they look cut and stuck. I don’t know why this is, but if anyone could tell me I would be very grateful, or indeed if anyone else had an opinion on the crowns. I know it is a small detail, but it really caught my attention.

So, we shall wait a week for the next episode, hopefully with a bit more drama and a better pace, and maybe with a crown that wasn’t made by a child!


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