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The Downton Abbey Rules for Household Staff, a manual for life in Victorian and Edwardian times, when setting rules for society to follow in print was de rigeur

Downton Abbey has become the ‘iconic’ series on television for letting us know what life was ‘really like’.

What we do know is that household staff of Downton Abbey carry out their duties with effortless dignity, finesse and pride.

Just how did they know how exactly to lay the table, when to leave the room to give Lord and Lady Grantham their privacy, how to care for Lady Mary’s furs and which uniform to wear when?

Well with Carson in charge how could you doubt the outcome.

This so-called ‘recently recovered and fascinating staff handbook answers all of these questions’ and probably many more.

Covering all the main positions of the Downton household – footman, lady’s maid, housekeeper, groundsman and more – and with a general introduction for new members of staff from Carson the Butler, this book tells you everything you need to know about working below stairs in the grand estate just like Downton Abbey.

The Downton Abbey Rules for Household Staff

Carnival Productions

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At My French Table by Jane Webster the story of a family and their first year in France with a new language to learn friends to make and countryside to discover

They also have a whole new region from Deauville to Rouen to learn about and discover on their doorstep. The story is sure to inspire others to do the same.

After years of thinking about it, Jane Webster finally bought a dilapidated chateau in France and moved there.

She and her husband decided they didn’t want to die wondering what it would be like to live in the country they both loved so much.

So they sold their house in Melbourne, took their four young children out of school and moved the whole family to live in a tiny village in Normandy.

This is also the story of Chateau de Bosgouet and how Jane lovingly brought this grand but neglected old house back to life.

At My French Table is an ode to a beautiful country and the French way of life.

‘If as a child you loved fairy tales and dreamed of being Cinderella, or if you yearned to be the handsome prince with a turreted castle, you’re going to adore Jane Webster’s gloriously illustrated At My French Table.’  New York Journal of Books

‘A love letter to France.’  Sydney Morning Herald

‘Webster has a clever knack of bringing to life the five-story Chateau de Bosgouet.  It’s hard not to be bewitched by Bosgouet’s charm, or inspired by Webster’s warm and thoughtful depiction of French country life.’  The Food Sage

About the Author

Jane Webster grew up in Melbourne but has had a lifelong passion for French culture, history and food. She has participated in many culinary master classes in France, Italy and Australia. She now lives between Australia and France with her husband and four children.

At My French Table (Paperback)

Jane Webster

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How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline De Maigret and Sophie Mas is about Parisian life, love, liberty and, living stylishly

Four savvy French ladies take up the challenge to put forward their personal case about culture, fashion and attitude. Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline De Maigret and Sophie Mas are known to be bohemian free-thinkers and iconoclasts.

They are not afraid to cut through some of the myths and the smoke and mirrors to say what you don’t expect to hear, just the way you want to hear it.

They are not against smoking in bed, and all for art, politics and culture, making everything look easy, and going against the grain. They say ‘don’t always have to be made up, but you should always be well dressed’ and don’t ask about ‘ugg’ boots.

They take on the confusing subjects of clothes, makeup, men, culture and lifestyle as only a true Parisienne woman can.

How to be Parisian

Sophie Mas, Audrey Diwan, Caroline De Maigret and Anne Berest

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Turing’s Cathedral by George Dyson is all about English genius Alan Turing, who in deciphering the Nazi’s ‘enigma code’ paved the way for inventing the computer

Following World War II Alan Turing became a founding father of modern cognitive science and spent the rest of a very short career at Manchester University.

In George Dyson’s book Turing’s Cathedral, he focuses on a small group of men and women, led by John von Neumann at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, who built one of the first computers to realize Alan Turing’s vision of a Universal Machine.

Their work would break the distinction between numbers that mean things and numbers that do things–and our universe would never be the same. Using five kilobytes of memory (the amount allocated to displaying the cursor on a computer desktop of today), they achieved unprecedented success in both weather prediction and nuclear weapons design, while tackling, in their spare time, problems ranging from the evolution of viruses to the evolution of stars.

Dyson’s account, both historic and prophetic, sheds important new light on how the digital universe exploded in the aftermath of World War II. The proliferation of both codes and machines was paralleled by two historic developments: the decoding of self-replicating sequences in biology and the invention of the hydrogen bomb.

It’s no coincidence that the most destructive and the most constructive of human inventions appeared at exactly the same time. How did code take over the world?

Click to Read a Preview of the upcoming film starring Benedict Cumberbatch, about Alan Turing’s wartime efforts.

Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe

Dyson, George

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The Housekeeper’s Tale by Tessa Boase is about the women who really ran English country treasure houses from the ground up, catering for both upstairs and down!

In an interview for The Culture Concept Circle Tessa Boase said “…I honed my list down to five women – women who would give me the same scope to tell such a complex and dramatic story as Mrs Doar’s; also giving me a good geographical spread, and moving forward in time with each house. My choice is an arbitrary one – I’m sure there are many, many more such stories out there, and since finishing the book (three years later!) I have found quite a few.

Life in an English Country House was indeed a far cry from Downton Abbey and Mrs Hughes.

This book reveals ‘the personal sacrifices, bitter disputes and driving ambition that shaped these women’s careers. Delving into secret diaries, unpublished letters and the neglected service archives of our stately homes, Tessa Boase tells the extraordinary stories of five working women who ran some of Britain’s most prominent households’.

There is Dorothy Doar, Regency housekeeper for the obscenely wealthy 1st Duke and Duchess of Sutherland at Trentham Hall, Staffordshire. There is Sarah Wells, a deaf and elderly Victorian in charge of Uppark, West Sussex. Ellen Penketh is Edwardian cook-housekeeper at the sociable but impecunious Erddig Hall in the Welsh borders.

Hannah Mackenzie runs Wrest Park in Bedfordshire Britain’s first country-house war hospital, bankrolled by playwright J. M. Barrie. And there is Grace Higgens, cook-housekeeper to the Bloomsbury set at Charleston farmhouse in East Sussex for half a century an era defined by the Second World War.

The Housekeeper’s Tale: The Women Who Really Ran the English Country House

Boase, Tessa

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The Anzac Girls by Peter Rees

Posted on August 13th, 2014 by in War

The Anzac Girls by Peter Rees is the extraordinary real life story revealing the strength of Australian and New Zealand nurses on the front line of World War 1

Now a major ABC six part series, based on the stories of those serving at Gallipoli and on the Western front, after arriving in Egypt they soon realisde that war was not quite the ‘splendid adventure’ they had been led to believe.

By the end of the Great War, forty-five Australian and New Zealand nurses had died on overseas service and over two hundred had been decorated.

These were the women who left for war looking for adventure and romance but were soon confronted with challenges for which their civilian lives could never have prepared them.

Their strength and dignity were remarkable.

Using diaries and letters, Peter Rees takes us into the hospital camps and the wards, and the tent surgeries on the edge of some of the most horrific battlefronts of human history.

But he also allows the friendships and loves of these courageous and compassionate women to shine through and enrich our experience.

Profoundly moving, Anzac Girls is a story of extraordinary courage and humanity shown by a group of women whose contribution to the Anzac legend has barely been recognised in our history.

Peter Rees has changed that understanding forever.

About the Author

Peter Rees has been a journalist for forty years, working as federal political correspondent for the Melbourne Sun, the West Australian and the Sunday Telegraph. He is the author of The Boy from Boree Creek: The Tim Fischer Story (2001), Tim Fischer’s Outback Heroes (2002), Killing Juanita: A true story of murder and corruption (2004), which was a winner of the 2004 Ned Kelly Award for Australian crime writing, Desert Boys and Lancaster Men (2013). He lives in Canberra.

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Anzac Girls: The Extraordinary Story of Our World War I Nurses

Peter Rees

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Optimism Reflections on a Life of Action by Bob Brown who recalls in plain language being likened to ‘a latter-day John Lennon’ when the Greens leader 1996-2012

Then, as now, Brown conveyed ideas in plain yet poetic language. True to form, he addressed a 2012 audience in Hobart as ‘Fellow Earthians’ before advocating for global equity and personal optimism. Optimism, according to Brown, ‘gets things done’. The pillars of the Greens’ political philosophy (social justice, democracy, peace and ecological wellbeing) recur not just in Brown’s senate motions and town hall speeches, but also in a life lived conscientiously. His is a remarkable life for it.

Bob Brown, former Senator and Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens, is one of Australia’s most thoughtful and recognized public figures. Since his retirement from public life in 2012, Bob has had time to consider the things that are truly important. In this work narrated in his own inimitable laconic style Brown reflects on life choices that inspire all the more for his having overcome existential despair and common self-doubt.

Inspirational, compassionate and outraged, Bob’s stories are rich with metaphor, entertaining and full of warmth. His stories reveal a complex man with a quick wit, a passion for activism and a joy for life. Optimism reflects on the simple things, the moments that are meaningful, and the big questions that have concerned Bob Brown. It is a powerful read as well as a meditation on the great and the small.

Optimism (Hardcover)

Bob Brown

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High Tea from the MCGRATH FOUNDATION, contains favourite recipes from Stephanie Alexander, David Herbert, Belinda Jeffery and Not Quite Nigella

It’s all about raising funds for the McGrath Foundation, which works tirelessly to achieve their mission of a breast care nurse for every Australian family experiencing breast cancer, and to ensure all young women are breast aware.

Taking High Tea is a festival restorative in every way… it is an occasion for cake, for friends, for celebrating. Here are recipes for cakes big and small, sandwiches and savoury bites.

Including sumptuous ideas for how to host a high tea by Kyly Clarke, Samantha Wills and Eamon Sullivan, High Tea promises to make a special occasion out of any event. $5 from the sale of every copy of this book will be donated to the McGrath Foundation.

If you are cold, tea will warm you,
If you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are exhausted, it will calm you’

This charming poem was penned by William Gladstone, Queen Victoria’s prime minister and the Reverend Sidney Smith’s comment sums it up entirely and in a most characteristic English manner

High Tea (Hardcover)

McGrath Foundation

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Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant: True Tales and Gossip from the Galley by Owen Bedall with Libby Harkness says it as it is, a bumpy hilarious ride

Sex, drugs and lots of celebrity gossip; Katy Perry, Lily Allen, Kylie Minogue, Venus Williams and Cate Blanchett – are all in the galley having a gossip with Owen who lifts the lid on what you want to know about the glamorous world of flying. Put’s Pan Am in the shade…exotic places to visit, swanning about in five-star hotels, lazing around grandiose swimming pools, sipping cocktails by candlelight and table top dancing…this is what its really like to be a flight attendant.

No wonder the positions are so much in demand, as long as you don’t suffer from air-sickness, you’ll be in with half a chance.

About the Author

Owen born in Darwin and is of Anglo–Aboriginal descent and studied Arts/Law at the University of New South Wales before leaving to work in Hong Kong and then London. He became a first-class flight attendant and went to work in London for the opening of the new international base in 2005–06. Owen returned to Australia to continue his flying career post London and continued flying internationally. Owen suffered a workplace injury, breaking his back in three places. After a period of rehabilitation, he intermittently returned to flying but could no longer take the long, manual and tiring conditions of an international ‘hostie’. He has since put his energy and time into writing and retired from Qantas in 2013.

Along the way Owen travelled to over forty countries on six continents and among the countless people he met were Princess Anne and other royalty, political and religious leaders, and celebrities including Katy Perry, Russell Brand, Kylie Minogue, Lily Allen, Cate Blanchett, Kelly Osborne, Venus Williams, Lisa Raymond, Casey Dellacqua and Caroline Wozniacki, plus bands Franz Ferdinand and Oasis. Currently, Owen is writing, working with charity Beyondblue, and still recovering from his injury. He has signed with an agency in New York and lives between Sydney and a country home in Grafton.

Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant (Paperback)

Owen Beddall

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Frog on a Log in a Bog, Duck in a Truck in the Muck by Andy Griffiths will be sure to keep the kids amused for hours, and great ‘read aloud’ books for children

The wonders of rhyme and nonsense emerged from the prose and poetry of English artist, illustrator and writer Edward Lear (1812-1888).\

Around the world he inspired many great writers, including English novelist Roald Dahl (1916 – 1990) who wrote for adults and children and Australia’s leading children’s book author and comedy writer Andrew “Andy” Griffiths (1961-).

His books have become immensely popular with the current generation of early childhood readers and include

Frog on a Log in a Bog

It’s the frog on a jet-rocket log versus the dog on the jet-rocket cog! Who will win the race around the bog?

Frog on a Log in a Bog (Paperback)

Andy Griffiths

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Duck in a Truck in the Muck
Chuck the Duck’s ice-cream truck is stuck in the muck! Can his friend Buck and his muck-sucking truck save the day?

Both are rhyming stories about friendship and fun sure to delight Andy fans, especially beginner readers.

They are accompanied by talented creative Terry Denton’s energetically comic illustrations.

Duck in a Truck in the Muck (Paperback)

Andy Griffiths

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