Showing posts from June, 2012


What were some of the strangest - and sometimes most dangerous - fashion trends that women have followed through history?   Here's a brief look.    1. SKIRTING WITH DANGER One of the memorable moments of Gone with the Wind was watching Scarlett and the other southern belles flaunting themselves in enormous hoop skirts. Hoop skirts have been variously fashionable throughout history; in Scarlett's day, the hoops were actually a massive cage of steel or stiff fabric called crinoline worn under a skirt to keep it in shape. But this was perilous fashion. The hoop skirt was susceptible to wind gusts; there are stories of women being swept out to sea, with the crinoline acting as a sort of sail. There were other perils; they could get caught in carriage wheels and were unwieldy indoors. Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's second wife knocked over a candle with her skirt and went up in flames In Chile in 1863, between two and three thousand people

Anastasia Romanov

Today, June 18 th , 2012 would have been the 111 th birthday of one of the most fascinating women of recent history – Anastasia Romanov. To celebrate her birthday, Sourcebooks has kindly offered to give away a copy of The Last Romanov  by Dora Levy Mossanen. The giveaway is open to all residents of Canada and the U.S. To enter, read the following biography and leave your thoughts. The most poignant comment, the one that touches my heart the most, will win the book.  The story of Anastasia Romanov is one of the most heart-wrenching stories ever told; it is about the horrific fate that she and her family suffered during the Bolshevik Revolution. To this day, the tragedy still resurrects doubt as to what exactly happened to the young Grand Duchess of Russia. Anastasia Romanov Anastasia was born into great wealth and privilege in the late spring of 1901. She came into the world amid the opulence of a vast palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. She was the youngest


When I wrote Anastasia ten years ago there was still a lingering doubt about whether she had survived the botched execution in which the rest of her family were murdered. What was more certain was that the man who organised this bloody episode, Yakov Yurovsky, was a couple of cadres short of the full committee. He must have been off sick when they did Assassination 101 at Secret Police School. On his orders, the family were herded into a basement and shot with revolvers through the doorway by him and his men, the gunpowder from their revolvers burning their eyes and creating a fog in the tiny room. They had to fire over each other’s shoulders and Yurovsky claimed he came out deaf in one ear. Yakov Mikhailovich Yurovsky This method was not efficient. Also, the women had hidden their jewels inside their corsets and these acted as virtual bullet proof vests so Yurovsky recorded that they then had to be dispatched with bayonets. It was beyond brutal. The


Deutsches Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-00241 Ferdinand Neumann In the Sound of Music the nuns sang ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria?’ It’s more likely the more pressing problem in the Alps around that time was: ‘How do you solve a problem like Therese?’ Therese Neumann is a problem for skeptics, because she has never been satisfactorily debunked; yet here is a modern-day stigmatic who insisted she ate or drank nothing but the Eucharist for forty years. Was it a miracle or Mass hysteria? Walter J. Pilsak, Waldsassen This extraordinary woman was born the in village of Konnersreuth, Bavaria in 1898 to a poor farming family, the eldest of ten children. From her youth, her nickname was “Resl.’ A sturdy girl, she claimed that she could do the work of any man - and had the same appetite. Her ambition was to become a missionary in Africa. But her life changed in 1918 when she was partially paralyzed after falling off a stool helping to put out a fire in her uncle


She was one of the most extraordinary young women in Chinese and world history, but you probably never heard of her.    Her story could have come straight from a Walt Disney cartoon, The Little Mermaid in ancient China ; there’s a good Dad, an evil villain and the struggle for Utopia. What it doesn’t have is a handsome prince and a happily ever after - at least not for our courageous princess. Her name to history is Princess Pingyang.  She was one of eight daughters fathered by a man named Li Yuan, who had been born a peasant but had risen through the ranks to become a general in the army of the evil Emperor Yang. (No, I’m not making this up.) Yang had taken the throne after having his father poisoned by hired assassins. No less than six million people then died working on his plans to extend the Great Wall and the Grand Canal - over ten per cent of the entire population. He was one of the most thoroughly unpleasant men in history; Donald Trump with attitude.