In an idea blatantly stolen from my fellow history girl History Lizzie, my latest post is My April in Review – a look back at all the ways I have been keeping myself historically entertained over the past month.
Personally, April didn’t seem to drag as me as March did. Perhaps its because we had Easter in the middle to break it up? Perhaps its because I feel like I’m finally getting into the swing of working from home as part of ‘the new norm’? Either way, I know we’re just that little bit closer to lockdown ending.
Books I read in April
The April read for The History Bookshelf online book club was a heart warming tale all about a wannabe Lady War Correspondent in World War II London. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been finding it very hard to concentrate with everything that’s been going on. This light, easy book was exactly what I needed and I devoured it in record time!
I have FINALLY finished this weighty tome after starting it back at the beginning of March! Its very much a labour of love in terms of reading but its a brilliant and fitting conclusion to the Wolf Hall trilogy. History tells us what happened to Thomas Cromwell in the end, but it doesn’t stop you from being completely engrossed. Already nominated for the Women’s Prize, I can see Mantel making history and scooping the Booker Prize for a third time.
With all this extra time on my hands, I promised myself I would push myself out of my comfort zone and read something non-historical for the first time in ages. Everything I Know About Love has been all over social media and seemed very popular, so I gave it a shot. Part-memoir, part-life manual this book really spoke to the 30-something singleton that I am.
Films I watched in April
To while away the lockdown hours I have started a weekly Hisdoryan Film Club over on my social media channels. Every week I choose a period drama based on an historical anniversary that week. I was delighted when I arrived at the anniversary of the publication of The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald. The 2013 film adaptation by Baz Luhrmann starring Leonardo DiCaprio is a feast for the eyes!
Another film club pick, Mary Shelley is all about the life and loves of the author of Frankenstein. I knew the basics about this gothic heroine, but this film gave me a really thorough education about her life. I particularly liked Tom Sturridge as ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ Lord Byron. Legend says Mary lost her virginity to Percy Shelley on her mother’s grave – they didn’t show that bit in the film!
One of my all time favourite period dramas.And I know lots of other people love it too – it got quite the reaction when I chose it for the film club! Even after 20 years (yes, its been that long) this film never fails to make me both laugh and cry. If you’re looking for a rainy day film to warm the cockles, then I recommend Shakespeare in Love.
One evening I splashed out and treated myself to a film that has only just come out on digital download. Misbehaviour follows the events surrounding the 1970 Miss World competition. It has a great ensemble cast and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The film looks at a myriad of issues – including women’s rights and race – and would be a great choice if you like your women’s history.
TV I watched in April
The BBC has really stepped up its game when it comes to programming in the current crisis. I watched two documentaries about exhibitions that were forced to close early – namely Aubrey Beardsley at Tate Britain and Titian at The National Gallery – and enjoyed both, especially the latter. I also watched Rebuilding Notre Dame, which was aired to mark the one year anniversary of the iconic Parisian cathedral suffering a devastating fire. I must admit it bought a tear to my eye.
Given the stress we’re all under its only natural we need some light relief. I’ve been watching The Thick of It – a political satire comedy that was recommended to me some time ago which I now finally have the time to watch – and Brooklyn 99, a very easy-to-watch cop comedy.
In another attempt to keep myself occupied during lockdown, I’ve started a weekly pub quiz. The twist is this one features only history questions! You can find the quiz on my Insta Stories every Saturday night at 8pm BST.
What’s the best book you’ve read this month? Or has there been a period drama that’s floated your boat? Please share all your history-related recommendations with me below!
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