A once respected entrepreneur struggles with addiction, a single mother tries to keep her family safe and a roof over their heads, a soldier on the battlefield seeks a fast answer to the meaning of life, and a young woman searches for love in a nation that has lost its men.
In a 19th century world gone mad with exploration scientific discovery, education, technology and the birth of the middle class was a dark underbelly of the Industrial Revolution, colonialism and empire building, which set the stage for World War One in its horror and aftermath.
Against this backdrop people tried to make the best of their lot. Like us they got out of bed and set about their daily tasks. They had family celebrations, loved, quarreled and suffered heartaches. Parents worried about their children, health and money. They heard the news and wondered what the world was coming to, and they were profoundly affected by world events they only very vaguely understood.
An intimate snapshot of the lives of ordinary people living in extraordinary times.
A trilogy about ordinary people living in extraordinary times in London's East End at the height of the Industrial Revolution
[5 stars] This book is a treasure trove of all the things I value in a great book. It is educating, entertaining and so engaging I could not put it down - it kept me reading well into the night. Many photographs and vignettes add to the story and prove its authenticity. The research for this book had to be colossal, but reading it is a pure pleasure. I highly recommend it.
[5 stars] This book is awesome. I love how the story is intertwined with historical facts. It lends a hand to better understand what those times were like and how people lived. I'm looking forward to reading more and want to thank the author for bringing this work to light.
[stars] I could not put this book down. It's a marvelously curated blend of profound human experiences and their historical context. Events unfolding both before and through arguably the first global crisis cluster, just over a century ago, are narrated and explained at just the right level of detail. Anyone born in the 20th century, particularly in western Europe or North America but also worldwide, will find they share much with protagonists in these narratives, whether by seeing as if through the eyes of their own remembered ancestors or by seeing how humanity shares much more than that which, tragically, divides it. Coincidentally I read this book right after reading Juliet Nicolson's "The Perfect Summer" and Kate Atkinson's "Shrines of Gaiety". Like "Three Tales" these wonderfully researched books draw one in with vivid evocations of individual experiences within a richly portrayed broader context, adding immeasurably to the jigsaw of one's knowledge of world events, beyond the basic outline that we may have retained from our formal education.
[5 stars] Beginning in 1895, this triumvirate of beautifully presented and interlinked stories explores just over three decades of societal, political, and life-changing events through the experiences of two working-class families.
Pertuiset delves into the seismic impact of the motor car, votes for women, and World War I together with the harsh, everyday struggles of single-parenthood, poverty, and disease.
The first tale, The Great Manure Crisis, introduces the reader to John King, a carriage builder from Tottenham, North East London. The reader is effortlessly absorbed into King’s world and the upheavals that swirl around him, dramatically affecting his business, which when combined with personal heartbreak leads the decent, hardworking King to spiral into alcoholism.
The consequences of this addiction are sensitively handled and Pertuiset positions King’s downfall objectively and in the broader social context, expertly fusing historical insight and information with character-driven storytelling.
It’s supremely interesting and educational but never overly didactic. Pertuiset’s prose is straightforward yet elegant and all three stories read like the very best of historical fiction or family drama whilst thriving on well-chosen facts and observation. There are complementary illustrations and commentary boxes that consolidate, clarify, and enlarge upon the issues that thread and evolve through each tale. Pertuiset’s research into the age is meticulous and her knowledge of period detail makes for a fascinating and immersive read.
Springtime Requiem presents the Reed family and their daily battles to put food on the table whilst attempting to adapt to a swiftly rising tide of change affecting all aspects of their lives. This second tale cleverly begins to subtly knit the Reeds together with the King family.
It’s skillfully woven, and the members of each household are brought vibrantly to life, making them convincing, and, despite their issues taking place over a hundred years ago, they are incredibly relatable, especially on an emotional level.
Pertuiset finishes with the profoundly moving and deeply poignant Sepia Dawn which takes the reader along with John Reed, whom we learn is the author’s grandfather, and his contemporaries, into the ghastly hell of WWI. It is one of the finest accounts of the horrors of the conflict that I have read, written without judgment to provide a narrative as compelling as it is appalling.
Pertuiset includes an excellent glossary but I could have benefited from the Reed and King family trees, although not essential as neither were large families.
Three Tales from the Tip of an Era provides a vivid and readable account of this turbulent turn of the century era. Intimate and engaging, it presents a rich yet nuanced chronicle that proves compulsive reading. Highly recommended.
[5 stars] "Three Tales from the Tip of an Era" seamlessly blends history and storytelling. With an acute understanding of today's audience, Simone Pertuiset ensures an engaging reading experience with a concise writing style that keeps the story focused and purposeful, avoiding any unnecessary tangents that could distract or lose the reader's interest. The characters are well-developed, their complexities and motivations driving the story forward are relatable and I found myself to be emotionally invested, rooting for their triumphs and empathizing with their struggles. Pertuiset paints a rich tapestry of 19th-century England, bringing the era to life with sensory details.
One of the strengths of the book is its balanced length and pacing. The author understands the demands of today's readers and expertly maintains a rhythm that kept my attention. Each page conveyed a sense of purpose, propelling the story towards its powerful conclusion. The themes explored in "Three Tales from the Tip of an Era" are strikingly relevant, resonating with contemporary issues and universal human experiences. Amidst the backdrop of a world in upheaval, the characters navigate through challenges that mirror our own, leaving the reader with a profound connection to their stories. Photos and side-bar vignettes provide a window into the social history of the era, allowing the reader to witness the lives of ordinary people grappling with the sweeping changes of the Industrial Revolution and the impact of world events.
[5 stars] I have just finished the reading of this very interesting book. What an amazing work! … The third part is, by my opinion, breathtaking. What a horrible experience the WWI must have been. And the first-hand experience has even more impact. One way and another, it is an unbelievable piece of work... My grandfather was fighting on the Russian front for the Austro-Hungarian Empire at first and then in the newly created Czechoslovak army on the Russian territory. He died when I was seven years old but I remember that he was not talkative at all – smoking lots of cigarettes. He had post traumatic syndrome for sure. Thank you for sharing this writing with us. It is an honour.
[5 stars] We all know the Industrial Revolution was the catalyst that flipped the switch after centuries of years of slow agrarian tradition, leading to the unprecedented speed of social change we are experiencing today.
This book is a rich exposé of how normal people were living while well-heeled drama was playing out at Downton Abbey.
Disclosure: I am the author's sister and was privy to the lengthy editing and proof0reading process. I only read the finished edition from cover to cover when I ran out of reading material while on vacation and was enchanted at how it came together - the excellent research synthesized into fascinating, digestible, well-organized pieces. Not only does this book bring a slice of not-so-distant history to life; it is an entertaining read, rich in detail, and the history stuck in my mind. I have since ordered a stack of copies from my sister to give to my family and friends.
[5 stars] Transport yourself to the 19th century, a time of industrial revolution and impending world war. This captivating book combines colonialism, scientific discovery, and evolving gender roles, all captured through stunning photos. It weaves timeless tales of love, loss, and personal growth, reminding us that life is a game of perseverance, chance, and luck. Highly recommended for an immersive and personal journey through history.