‘When Mary Bateman was born, she was of so little importance that the date of her birth went unrecorded. When it came to her final moments on the gallows however, thousands of spectators witnessed her execution upon York’s ‘New Drop’ on the morning of Monday 20th March 1809, some of whom, packed shoulder to shoulder in the crowd, were convinced to the very end that the Yorkshire Witch would save herself from death at the last moment by employing her supernatural powers to vanish into thin air as the noose tightened. Needless to say, she didn’t.’
Mary Bateman was no witch! More a petty thief and fraudster with a sociopathic personality. She was intelligent and used her reading and writing abilities (a rare attribute for women of this era) for unsavoury financial gains.
This was an interesting account of crime in the early 1800’s, as rarely were women seen to be of criminal mind, often simply being deemed ‘mad’ and locked away in an asylum.
Mary was charming and manipulative and had an inventive imagination, often making up non-existent characters, used purely to back up her dodgy dealings, to improve her chances of getting more money out of her victims.
She was labelled a witch because of her wicked ways, having some knowledge of herbs and remedies and offered her own kind of ‘healthcare’ to many unfortunate women. Poisonings were her main go-to MO all in the name of lining her own pockets.
I enjoyed how Strevens’ put this book together, it read well as a nonfiction and had enough creativity to keep me reading. I particularly liked how the time period was described, this added to my reading experience in a positive way. The centre of the book has glossy photos which always gets bonus points from me in a nonfiction read!
As I was coming to the end, I really enjoyed how macabre this era was. I won’t give too much away, but the following picture shows how Mary ended up! As a museum exhibit, of all things, how shocking!
I’d recommend to British history enthusiasts, particularly folk who have lived in and around Leeds and York. A lot of settings would be familiar to folk who dwell in these parts!
The Yorkshire Witch gets 4 stars from me!
I’d like to say thank you to those lovely folk at Pen & Sword Publishers, in particular Rosie, who kindly sent me my copy in exchange for an honest review.
About the author
Born in London, Summer Strevens now lives and writes in Oxfordshire. Capitalising on a lifelong passion for historical research, as well as penning feature articles of regional historical interest, Summer’s published books include Haunted Yorkshire Dales, York Murder & Crime, The Birth of Chocolate City: Life in Georgian York, The A-Z of Curiosities of the Yorkshire Dales, Fashionably Fatal , Before They Were Fiction and The Yorkshire Witch: The Life and Trial of Mary Bateman.
So today I’ve decided to take a trip down Book Memory Lane. You know what us oldies are like for reminiscing about days gone by, all nostalgic, when times were better…
As you’ve probably all experienced in your own lives, us book lovers simply run out of shelf space. Unless of course you’re one of those lucky sods with a massive spare room/library to house every single book you’ve ever owned. (No bitterness or jealousy at all there.)
I’ve done many a charity shop donation with books I just didn’t have room for. Okay, admittedly, some I was glad to see the back of, but most were ‘I doubt I’d re-read, but I still like yous’. I have been known to *ahem* buy them again if seen for a bargain somewhere though.
In superb technicolour, here are the actual editions I have loved and lost.
[Click on the covers to find out more!]
And there we have it. A mixed bag of books from my past that I would love to have back on my bookshelves. Did any of these ring any bells? If you were a child/teen of the 80’s, I’m sure some of these covers will take you back!
Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend folks!
Read back in February 2017, I came across my Goodreads review of Shantaram and decided I liked it enough to post it on my blog. Two and a half years after finishing it, I was right, I’ll never forget this book.
A 4 star read, with many 5 star elements
I have so many thoughts whirling around my head about this book. I had to sleep on it before writing my review because, on finishing it yesterday I couldn’t write the jumble of emotions down in a way that could be understood!
I’m still struggling to piece together how I’m going to review this without writing what hundreds of other readers already have. And give it the justice it deserves for its brilliance.
It educated me, it filled me with awe, it lifted me up and plonked me down in Bombay, with a ‘there you are, take this little lot on board’. Sometimes, it was just too much, too many characters, too much information, some of which I had little or no interest in. (Eg: I care nowt about weapons and war logistics, which, in parts, I had to skim read as this book was sooo long!)
Had Shantaram been 200 pages shorter, I probably would of awarded it full marks, but it was long, way too long. Bits could of been
omitted without any adverse effect on the storyline.
That said, Gregory David Roberts has written a masterpiece. I’ve experienced India in such a unique way, the beauty, the dark underworld, the passion of its people, and thankfully, all in the safety of pages of a book!
I would probably of never chosen this to read, but I was recommended it by a friend, who then lent it to me and urged me to read it. I could see how passionate he was about this book, and I have my own book loves that fill me with ‘hey, you have to read this’ moments. So I simply couldn’t and wouldn’t refuse!
I enjoy the challenge of a big fat book, and the challenge of reading about something I know little or nothing about. And above all, I love the satisfaction of having completed a book of such epic proportions.
I’m rambling a bit now, so I’ll round this review up with one sentence:
Shantaram, I will never forget you.
It took me a little while to finish A Predator and a Psychopath because I went on holiday for a week. I had every intention of continuing and finishing this while I was away, but due to very hot weather and far too much fun both in and out of the sun, I didn’t pick it up again until I got back home.
I did read a handful of chapters on the plane en-route, and had to laugh because one of them was called ‘Turbulence’! How very fitting!
A Predator and a Psychopath is one of those stories that I’d imagine many, many people would start, discover what one of the characters was like, and instantly stop out of sheer disgust. Normal people don’t read this kind of thing surely.
To best describe my reading experience would be to compare it to a car crash that you know is up ahead. You know full well that there’s fatalities, there could be graphic and unsettling scenes, stuff of nightmares that you’d rather not see. You look and stare regardless because you just can’t help yourself.
This book was awful. The characters were awful. So much of this book was utterly awful. I cannot stress enough how awful this book was.
I loved it! Am I awful too? Perhaps.
What made this book worthy of a four star rating was the style in which it was written. It was so brilliantly put. So easy to follow. Each chapter flowed to the next with ease. My weeks break of not reading didn’t have any effect on my reading enjoyment. Often if I have a break in reading something, I really struggle to get back into it. Not this. It was captivating, full of triggers, I made faces throughout reading, often asking myself , why do read such horrific stuff?
I feel like I shouldn’t recommend this book to anyone at all. The subject matter is twisted and questionable and sickening. But it was written with such intelligence, clearly, lots of research went into writing this, and that really shines throughout the book.
To compare it to other books I’ve read, I’d say it has hints of Easton Ellis’ American Psycho mixed with Frey’s My Friend Leonard and Long’s The Book of Paul.
Thank you to Book Sirens for providing me with a copy to read in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.