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The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier by April White April White’s The Divorce Colony is set during the Gilded Age, in the America of the late 1800s. It revolves around the lax divorce rules then to be found in South Dakota.  Today, getting divorced is almost easier than getting married. But in the Gilded Age, divorces were not so easy to obtain. Divorce was viewed as a moral concern for the state, and was denounced from the pulpit for threatening the sanctity of marriage. Even President Theodore Roosevelt spoke out against it.  Laws around divorce tended to be most lax on the frontiers of the United States. By the 1880s the territory of Dakota gained the dubious honor of posting the largest rise in divorces in the country. At the turn of the century one city - Sioux Falls, South Dakota - gained a reputation for having the laxest divorce laws of all, and required only a three month residency in order to take advantage of them

Review: The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz


The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson

I've read my share of World War II histories (my most relevant recent read was Giles Milton's "Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare") and so I found many of the stories told in this book regarding the buildup of the British war machine and of Churchill's personal peculiarities to be familiar.

Gary Oldman's depiction of Churchill in "The Darkest Hour" kept coming to mind as I read those passages where Larson discusses Churchill's love of baths, and his habit of working (including dictating to his secretary) while he was in bed.

What I was less aware of were the stories of Churchill's family and how the air raids and the first year of the war - the "Battle of Britain" - impacted them.

Larson weaves a historical narrative unlike anyone else, and he brings his gift to the telling of this story of the Churchill family, and the UK, during the Blitz. What he delivers, as usual, grabs you from the beginning, sweeps you right along and then deposits you at the end; happy to have read a good story and to have learnt so much along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I read the audiobook which was narrated by the gifted playwright/screenwriter/actor/director and audiobook narrator John Lee, who did excellent work.

I rate The Splendid and the Vile Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐.



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Title: The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
Author: Erik Larson
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (Penguin Random House)
Publish Date: February 25, 2020
ISBN-13: 9780385348713
List Price: $32.00 (Hardcover as of 12/2021)

Revised Dec 2021