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Anne Vavasour and Sir Henry Lee (ebook 2019)

 

In March 1581, the courtiers of Queen Elizabeth I were amazed at the spectacular fall from grace of young Anne Vavasour.  The lively and well-educated seventeen-year-old girl had seemed to be a breath of fresh air only one year before when she was placed by her family into the monarch's innermost circle as a Gentlewoman of the Bedchamber. 
 
But now she had become the prey of Edward de Vere, the 17thEarl of Oxford, who was prowling the court while estranged from his young wife Anne Cecil, the daughter of Elizabeth's chief minister Lord Burghley. Then, almost unbelievably, Anne gave birth to a baby boy in the attending maidens' chamber at court.  The queen was furious, and the couple and baby were whisked away to the Tower, becoming the delicious scandal of the year.
 
But that was not the end of Anne's remarkable career.  In fact, it was just the beginning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wonder Seekers of Fountaingrove (2018)

 

The strange story of The Brotherhood of the New Life, a community founded by self-proclaimed prophet Thomas Lake Harris in 1861 to await the Second Coming of Christ and the angels. 
 
Harris promised his disciples that the celestial visitors would arrive soon.  In addition, he revealed the divine plan was for them all to rule the world while living together in splendor with the brotherhood at the Fountaingrove winery in Santa Rosa, which was the group's headquarters from 1875 to 1934.
 
Unlike other cults and utopian communities of the time, Harris and his earthly followers were stupendously successful in business, operating one of the largest and finest wineries in California, and shipping their vintages across the United States as well as to Europe and Asia.  As a result, there was no shortage of funds to keep the enterprise afloat. 
 
After the prophet's death just before the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, management of the brotherhood passed to Kanaye Nagasawa, a Japanese samurai who was one of the first of his countrymen to come to America, arriving as a young teenager in 1865, and somehow ending up as a member of Thomas Lake Harris's tribe.   Nagasawa carried on steadfastly, and even managed to keep the winery's business solvent during Prohibition, emerging at its repeal with the brotherhood's vineyards intact.
 
This unlikely yet true saga is presented in a beautiful dustjacketed hardcover book of 200 pages, with an additional sixteen pages of photos and illustrations.

 

 

 

 

The Vavasour Macbeth (2019)

 

Buried Shakespearean treasure from an ancestor's tomb brings a disillusioned BBC reporter home to solve her father's murder and restart her life with the man who has always loved her.
 
When Margaret Hamilton's father rescues Elizabethan manuscripts from a flooded tomb, he asks his daughter's former fiancé Stephen to help decipher them, bringing the couple back together again.
 
At first, the documents only seem to resurrect Anne Vavasour's remarkable true story: how she came to Queen Elizabeth's court as a sixteen-year-old Maid of Honour; was seduced by the Earl of Oxford; delivered a babe at court in the attending maidens' chamber; was sent to the Tower; yet later flourished for twenty years as the mistress of the wealthy widower Sir Henry Lee, Elizabeth's champion at the joust (and rumored half-brother of the queen).
 
But when Margaret and Stephen uncover links between the buried papers and Shakespeare's Macbeth, ruthless art and antiquities thieves scheme to take the priceless papers at any cost.
 
Blending fiction with little-known facts from history and research, The Vavasour Macbeth ranges from the Elizabethan and Jacobean courts to modern-day England, revealing many mysteries of ancient handwriting, manuscripts, and playmaking along the way. Not all facts taught in school about the Elizabethan era, Shakespeare, and Macbeth are proven, and you may be surprised to learn how many questions really do remain open and unsolved.

 

 

The Double Life of Laurence Oliphant (2016)

 

At the age of 38, Laurence, a successful writer, war correspondent, diplomat and Member of Parliament gave up his glittering career to find God by  joining an American cult for a life of hard physical labor and sexual mysticism.  Then, in his fifties, Laurence with his beautiful wife Alice le Strange spent their final years working to save refugees by establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Oliphant's obituary in The Times said of him, "Seldom has there been a more romantic or amply filled career; never, perhaps, a stranger or more apparently contradictory personality."

 

 

"A rollicking biography of a classic 19th century figure, featuring imperial adventure, high diplomacy, literary fame, and an eccentric cult focused on bizarrely sublimated sexuality… The result is an energetic page-turner, a shrewd character study, and a rich social history." --Kirkus, featured in Best Books 0f 2016

 

"Bart Casey brilliantly resurrects this adventurer, diplomat, mystic and spy who impressed Queen Victoria with his ability to communicate with faeries."  --The Spectator, London 

 

"An impressively researched and exceptionally well written, organized and presented biography... an uncommonly informative and thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end." --Midwest Book Review