Raworths Reviews

Since the Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival members of the team at our title sponsors: Raworths Solicitors, have been diving into books discussed during the festival. Read on to find out which books they have been occupied with lately and why they would recommend reading them.

Katie Watts: Clothes…and Other Things That Matter by Alexandra Shulman 

I have had the pleasure of reading Alexandra Shulman’s book Clothes…and other things that matter. This book discusses and delves into the history of various items which you might find in a woman’s wardrobe and discusses pieces of clothing (and accessories) from the white shirt to the little black dress to the dressing gown. It is really interesting from a fashion history perspective and it also allows us to get to know Alexandra Shulman better as well. We learn about items of clothing in Alexandra’s wardrobe and her personal history with them throughout her life and her years as the Editor at Vogue.

As the previous Editor of Vogue, she clearly knows about fashion and this comes through throughout the book. I especially enjoyed the chapter about White Shirts and how they are a useful form of business wear. One of my favourite quotes in that chapter is: “Appearing confident, feeling comfortable and maintaining any kind of joyfulness is testing. Let alone doing It day after day.”. The whole book is full of quotes like this which cleverly sum up the items of clothing that Alexandra is talking about.

This book is definitely worth reading and I would recommend giving it a read!

Joanne Halford: Dear Reader: the Comfort and Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink 

“every book offers an invitation to open a door and find a way to another world. It’s both simple and profound to consider the vastness of human experience that sits on one small shelf of books.” (page 14).

From the first page Rentzenbrink had me yearning to ransack my bookshelves and devour every story there, whether for a second or third time but even the first. Her exploration of the books that have shaped her as an individual is both relatable and profound. It was indeed a reminder to a self-proclaimed bookworm the joys of reading and a thirst for escapism.

Rentzenbrink provides us with a thought provoking and indeed timely piece of writing dedicated to asking us to look outside our immediate realities for inspiration and comfort. Her exploration of her life through the books which have shaped her experience is eloquent and easy to follow whilst providing an insight into various aspects of her life. Her enthusiasm is palatable and instantly sets you at ease as if you have known her conversational style forever. Rentzenbrink’s insider insight into Harrords and the highs and lows of her time there provides a thread of glamour and gossip through the pages making it feel like you are both a confidant and friend.

This book is a testament of why to be lost in a good book is a privilege everyone should be able to take advantage of and if you are lucky enough to have such a privilege to utilise it to its limits. When times are hard Rentzentbrink’s text reminds us why fiction texts in particular do serve our lives incomparably.

Claire Aldridge: Truth to Power by Jess Phillips MP

Jess Phillips’s book Truth to Power sets out seven steps “ordinary” people can use to speak up and make a difference; whether that is on a big global platform or in your own working environment. Elected as the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley in 2015, Phillips draws on the vast experience she has gained during her time in this role as well as her experience of working with victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and human trafficking to provide a straightforward approach for anyone wishing to bring about change.

To illustrate her points, she also uses numerous examples of people from around the world who have successfully spoken out to make a difference. Each of the people named in the book consider themselves to be very ordinary, but many of the names will be familiar to the reader such as Zelda Perkins, who was the personal assistant who first reported Harvey Weinstein and Phillips’s own colleague Tom Watson who successfully took on the Murdoch press empire. They are of course modern-day heroes, who have suffered as a result of their fight, but had the courage to speak out and make a difference. The most shocking accounts in the book are those of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and Phillips’s own colleague Labour MP Jo Cox, both of whom were murdered for their cause.

However, Phillips provides hope throughout the book and encourages the reader to see where imbalances exist and urges them to do something about it. Throughout the book Phillips makes reference to the danger she continues to puts herself and her family in so that she can continue to fight for what she believes in.  It is hard not to be left feeling inspired by her.