Monday, 3 January 2011

Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey

The great house Wentworth Woodhouse is in Yorkshire and was surrounded by 70 collieries employing tens of thousands of men. It is the finest and largest Georgian house in Britain and belonged to the Fitzwilliam family. It is England's forgotten palace which belonged to Britain's richest aristocrats. "Black Diamonds" tells the story of its demise: family feuds, forbidden love, class war, and a tragic and violent death played their part. But coal, one of the most emotive issues in twentieth century British politics, lies at its heart. This is the extraordinary story of how the fabric of English society shifted beyond recognition in fifty turbulent years in the twentieth century.

Charting the rise and fall of an English dynasty, this is a fascinating non-fiction read. The author delves into an extraordinary family and charts the near demise of a great house.  Truth in this case certainly is stranger than fiction.  Well-researched, absorbing and informative, it deals with a part of early twentieth English history I knew little about and which I believe still affects us today. I strongly recommend it, do please read it if you are even faintly interested in English history - a little US history too, even a member of the Kennedy family, the beautiful but tragic Kick, is involved.
Here is a Telegraph review.

5 comments:

Debs said...

Definitely a 'must read' book by the sounds of it. Thank you.

Faye said...

When I read your description of this book immediatly thought that it would make a good period drama. Need to check availability in U.S. Coal mining has had a great impact on my state by it's damage to our beautiful mountains. On the other hand, it provided jobs for Kentuckians so they wouldn't have to leave home to support their families. For me personally,my father was a cold miner who was disabled by black lung disease Very complicated.

Susie Vereker said...

That's interesting about Kentucky, Faye, but black lung disease sounds awful.

Victoria Howard said...

I'm very fortunate to live very near to Wentworth Woodhouse and was fascinated by the history of the Fitzwilliam family. An excellent read and a book I would thoroughly recommend.

Susie Vereker said...

How interesting, Victoria. I'd like to visit Wentworth next time I'm in Yorkshire.