Six Biographies To Read This Winter!

Shop Girl

Shop Girl is about a young girl born into an Irish family in Watford, who is always laughing and running amok with troubles. Attracting trouble for clumsiness, she always got caught unlike her brother who would always manage to avoid it, and this during the seventies. The book is interesting because it brings to you a world of lemonades, curry boxes and baked beans from Heinz, in their muted-teal tin cans sporting a black and gold label.

She came from absolute poverty, wore second-hand clothes, and only ever ate different dishes composed entirely of potatoes. Her best friend is her mom, Theresa, but soon unexpected events pour her into the heart of the shopping district in London-town, where she falls in love with Harrods and invents Mary Portas, Queen of Shops. This is a happy tale, both endearing and comical – sure to inspire you to do something cool and discover a world of amazement, right from the very first page.

The Diary of Lena Mukhina: A Girl’s Life in the Siege of Leningrad

The year is 1941, when you meet an ordinary Russian teenage girl, with a crush, attempting to learn the language of her country’s Nazi ally, German. She also keeps a diary, where she diligently keeps track of all of her memories and experiences, very accurately. It tells of her life torn-apart, when Adolf Hitler breaksup his pact with Stalin and declares all-out war with the Soviet Union, amidst ponderings of her hopes and dreams. Leningrad gets besieged and thousands starve or die in the hellish cold. Food is scarce, as the Russian winter continues to be relentless and her loved ones, all go through one cruel death after another. Courageous and poignant, with its history, this is the book to have if you are absolutely in love with Russian litterature.

A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime

Did you wonder what it must feel like to serve as a nurse during trench warfare? This is a true story of a young lady who falls in and out of love, numerous times, and is always running out of time to love the men in her life, enough. Mary Mulry is only 18-years old and she goes from the capital to Ireland, where she serves as a nurse on the Home Front, and the frontline, nursing patients as diverse, as children to victims of bombing raids. She has even been in Normandy, where she treated Allied soldiers, and reading this book makes you think out loud what bravery can do to you if you just let it find you in the shadow of the Second World War.

Rasputin: A Short Life

Grigory Rasputin is a charming young man, hailing from Siberia. He was only a peasant, who becomes a mystic, and aligns himself with Queen Alexandria, during her pressing hours of need, as the Tsar is away, trying to come to terms with his faltering lack of skills as a wartime leader. He was a simple man, who would eat food with his fingers, and wasn’t even literate enough to read or write but he had magical healing powers, as some believed to heal haemophilia in the Tsar’s heir, Alexis.

The Imperial court would regard his miracles something out of this world, and the days were dark and cold. The royal family lived in great fear of revolt from the masses, against the tsarist regime and in the face of a lack of an appropriate heir, it would be almost impossible to get that cold shudder out of your lives, but that’s where Rasputin came in and helped out. Russian history is incomplete, without its share of controversies but mystical legends are few and far inbetween, so this will be a good one to read up on.

Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary

Sophia is an Indian princess. Her father was the heir to the Kingdom of the Sikhs, that went from Kashmir to the muddy valleys of Khyber Pass, and consisted of Lahore and Peshawar too, which sits in modern-day Pakistan. The British wanted that territory, to loot it for the Koh-I-Noor diamond, so Sophia gets exiled in England for it – I have no idea, how that works, but why don’t we try reading it out? Sophia’s father goes to Suffolk and buys an estate, with the meagre amount of income he has managed to rummage around, to turn the English house around into a Mughal palace, filling the grounds, with leopards, monkeys and exotic birds. Sophia is the God-daughter of Queen Victoria, the mighty Queen who, during this time, also ruled over India, apart from acting as the crowned monarch of the United Kingdom, albeit with limited responsibilities in comparison to all her duties in India.

Queen Victoria was a smart young woman, raised as a thoroughbred famous aristocrat, who knows the way of the court, loves to live at Hampton Court Palace, and is always photographed wearing the trendiest of all costumes/fashion in the society pages. Sophia travels to India, in support of the British government, in secret, and disowns her heritage to fight injustice and inequality, sacrificing the life she was born into, to contribute to the Indian independence movement from the British Raj. She has done it all, she has been it all. And this book lets you be privy to all of that, rather naively: she is bold, fearless, fighting for India, taking care of the Lascar seamen, who are stationed to get back to Great Britain once the struggles are over, with their English crew, tending to Indian soldiers during the First World War, with tenderness, at times, doing so much for the women’s suffrage movement and speaking the language of feminism!

She isn’t afraid to lose it all, every little thing she has if it means her country can be glorious. She will be there in the front line, work as a nurse, take care of wounded soldiers, evacuate them from battlefields and heal their wounds, attack politicians to fight for India, and play a greater role in shaping British and Indian history, than you could have ever before imagined. A thrilling ride, worth every dime – a true page-turner, which is so rare to see in history books!

Four Sisters: the Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses

Four young princesses, who were brutally murdered in the dead of the night forms once the darkest chapters of Russian history. Walking down twenty-three steps in a cellar house in Ekaterinburg, the four young women are joined by their parents and their only brother – they are heading towards an end they cannot envision as of yet. The eldest child is twenty-two, who has just said goodbye to an English romance in the not-so distant past, to spend time with her family, but this is just the start: wait till you take a look into the last few days of the Romanov Empire, and learn more about the four young princesses: Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, through their handwritten, scribbled letters, and diary accounts. They go from a life of sheltered royalty to a rural landscape, and try to grapple with love, affection, hopes, dreams, and the revolution taking place in their country – a vivid account of the tragic Romanov dynasty!

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