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The Intrigues of Jennie Lee

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Member Reviews

this was a really interesting read, I enjoyed the time period and the characters within it. I look forward to reading more from the author.
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With real political characters woven into an alternative history, this is an intriguing novel about a well-known, pioneering British Labour Party MP during the inter-war years. Jennie Lee was a Scottish trail blazer in the Labour Party politics with a turbulent personal life and connections to royalty. This is a highly engaging read.
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I liked this novel though the plot could be a little hard to follow at times and some characters were hard  to distinguish from others.
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A thought-provoking story that had me hooked from the beginning, weaving the politics of a very specific period in history with the personal life a young, strong, charismatic, idealistic female politician. The story explored the nuances of democracy and socialism, as well as gender and family. While the beginning seems to be historically accurate, it does become historical fiction, and I just wished I knew more about where exactly it diverges and what actually happened. That being said I definitely enjoyed and would recommend The Intrigues of Jennie Lee.
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As someone born in the UK and a degree in History, I have prior knowledge of almost all of the existing characters. Could I suggest the possibility of the index of characters at the beginning of the book for those who do not understand British politics. This is a well written and well researched novel, capturing the period, the mores of the society at a time of great change in behaviours and class distinction.
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I thought The Intrigues of Jennie Lee was a pretty good read. I like it and am giving four and a half stars.
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A fascinating historial novel set in Britain in the 1930's, Jennie Lee, the main character is young and female in a man's world. She is strong and clever and is caught up in political intrigue that could change the course of history. We get a glimpse of behind the scenes pollical life at that time and are drawn into Jennie Lee's character who is driven to get what she wants - almost at any cost. If you like historical novels, you would enjoy this book. I would rate it a 4 out of 5.
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Very readable but the style is a little too simple for my tastes. Also I was irritated at the misuse of titles. The correct usage should have been researched. eg Nancy Astor is Lady Astor not Lady Nancy. 

Interesting background details for Jennie Lee though - I knew very little of her before reading this. However, I did feel the need to check for  the actual facts elsewhere - which was probably a good thing but jerked me out of the novel each time.

Sorry I can't be more enthusiastic - probably just me.
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The book starts out in 1904 with the seduction of Labour Leader, Ramsay Mac Donald, by a Scottish Hotelier wife who, 9 months later gives birth to Jenny Lee. No-one is to know of this indiscretion. As the daughter of a miner’s union leader, she’s interested in politics and socialism from an early age on and in 1929 she’s elected as an MP for Labour. Her maiden speech makes an impression on Sir Oswald Mosley and the attraction is mutual. She also has a long-lasting affair with fellow MP, Frank Wise.
When she goes on a trip through Russia as a part of the Labour delegation, she’s seriously disorientated by what she sees and experiences there. She’s still certain about what she wants for everybody but doesn’t really know how to get there any longer. When she goes on a lecture tour through America and Canada, she also experiences the good and bad sides of life over there.
After the Wall Street crash in 1930, Mosley who was on the left side of the party (as Jenny also is) has revolutionary ideas about how to deal with the mass unemployment but the Labour Leader doesn’t want to know about it. Eventually, he’s put outside of the party and begins his own new political party
Also unknown to the rest of the world, when she was a child she befriended the aristocratic Elisabeth Bowes-Lyon (yes, we know her now as the queen mom) who’s now married to King George’s second son, Albert. Elizabeth hasn’t forgotten Jenny and takes an interest in her political career. And when her husband secretly and illegally wants to support the politics of Mosley, Jenny is forced (between blackmail and friendship) to act as a go-between.
Apart from being the secret daughter of Mac Donald and the friendship with the Duchess of York, the historical facts are rigidly observed until this point. It’s here that both versions part their ways. When Jenny learns about the intended betrayal of her party’s leader, she has the opportunity to act and by doing so, she changes (unknowingly) the course of history. But is this a change for the better? What if it’s the start of something that’s worse?

I love historical books that merge truth with fiction. Certainly, those books that make you ask yourself “what if?” this or that happened differently, what would have been the immediate effects and what would it mean on a longer plane? The former can be scientifically calculated, but for the latter, you must not only start out with a whole new premise but also count various unknown variables into the equation.
I must admit that I’ve done quite a lot of looking up while reading this book. Although the main characters were familiar, I’m not all that well versed in British interbellum period politics. Actually, it was a delight to get to know those colourful people that populate the historical reality and see what the author has done with those facts in an alternate universe. It’s not as if you won’t enjoy the book if you don’t know those things, but for me, it brought an extra enjoyment that I did a bit of reading about the period and the people.
The differences between life in the early Soviet Union, America and Britain are clearly described and the inequality that exists in each model gives food for thought. If not for the war, how would each society have evolved? The desperation in Russia, the racial segregation and blatant racism in the USA as the stark difference between the aristocracy and the working/unemployed masses in Britain all contained a basic injustice that could have been the feeding ground for a revolution.

This is an amazing historical political thriller of high quality that is written in an entertaining style. Politics are constantly mentioned but not in a boring or pedantic way. After all, it’s important to know who those people are and what they stand for. Jenny Lee is a charming and engaging character and was so in real life. This book possesses every quality to be made into a period movie or TV-series. If they do, I’ll certainly watch.
I thank NetGalley and John Hunt Publishing Ltd for the free ARC they provided and this is my honest review of it.
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The 'Intrigues of Jennie Lee' is alternative history novel about a well-known, pioneering British Labour Party MP during the 1920s and early thirties. Jennie Lee, a dynamic, well-educated young Scot, was elected to Parliament before she was of voting age (at that time) and went on to become a significant public figure championing the democratisation of the Arts and improved access to education for the working class. I knew all this before I started this novel so I was looking forward to reading a behind the scenes account of her life by an academic historian.
Author Alex Rosenberg recreates the epoch well, showing the hope Labour Party supporters and MPs had regarding social improvements, and the devastating ripple effects of the of 1929 Wall Street Crash. The ‘intrigues’ aspect of the story revolve around Jennie Lee’s romantic liaisons and political conniving at Westminster. The major intrigue, however, is her connection to the infamous Sir Oswald Mosely, who became the leader of the British Union of Fascists.
The book rests on documented history, but Mr Rosenberg takes the story into the fictional dimension from the opening chapter, where readers witness a dubious and for me highly unlikely scene between Ramsay MacDonald, urbane Leader of the Labour Party, and Jennie’s mother, a miner’s wife, which results in Jennie’s conception. In a subsequent early chapter he presents a friendship between the future Queen of England, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, and our rising eponymous socialist heroine - who is from a mining community. Knowing too much, perhaps, about the period, I found it impossible to suspend disbelief, although I’m willing to accept that strange coincidences and surprising friendships do occur in real life.
Having said that, if you are interested in this critical period in British social history this is a good story. Rosenberg's not-impossible twist - putting Oswald Mosely and his Fascist support centre stage - could have happened. From this point on 'The Intrigues of Jennie Lee' becomes an enjoyable, exciting thriller.
(This was an ARC: there were a number of formatting problems in the Kindle ebook I read, but these were relatively easy to overlook.)
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This book is a look at “what if this happened” within British politics in the early part of the 20th Century. As a historical fiction, author Alex Rosenberg has taken the liberty to rewrite history and create a political storm. Centered in this drama is Jennie Lee, who has so many secrets than one false move could cause her entire career to come crashing down.

This was my first meeting with almost all of the characters, and it is a bit sad to realize that I didn’t learn as much about this era in British politics as I would have liked. Mr. Rosenberg’s imagination makes up for that, and as the story began to unfold I found myself drawn into the action. When you consider her political work as well as her after hours trysts, Jennie has more on her plate in her first few year in politics than most of us can imagine handling in a lifetime. 

While definitely a work of fiction, “The Intrigues of Jennie Lee” captures the politics of the day and offers a glimpse of a woman’s efforts to navigate the political waters at a time in history when a woman elected to public office was more of a rarity than it is today. Four stars.

My thanks to NetGalley and John Hunt Publishing for a complimentary electronic copy of this book.
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For a historical political novel this is a remarkable story and I found myself reluctant to put it down.  It is full of historical and political information, but also romance and intrigue.   I highly recommend this book for the authors distinct ability to create an interesting novel out of what can be a dull subject.  Who would suspect such infidelity in members of parliament in such times!
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An intriguing picture of British political procedures and the people who drove them in the early 1900's.  True to life figures have been set in a fictional story that still manages to be a very good story of the time.  Jennie Lee became a member of Parliament before she could legally vote.  Insuring her voice was heard as a representative of all women, she lived a fascinating life.  Many readers will recognize characters in this book as this era in Britain has been well documented.  I found the book well written and could easily read another by this author.
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One of those fascinating, but often strangely irritating books in which real life history and out-and-out fiction collide to create a tale that is both larger than life and somehow diminished by it.  The tale itself is enjoyable enough, and exciting in places, and if you can resist the temptation to keep running to the reference books just to see if this or that happened, it'll definitely hold your attention. At the same time, though, as you plough through your research, you can't help thinking a novel built around reality would have been even more gripping.
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I liked the general concept, and I’m always on the lookout for stories about women accomplishing great things despite the odds. And Jennie Lee is pretty awesome in getting elected to Parliament before women could vote. But I didn’t find this book that engaging. I don’t know a ton about British politics beyond the basics, particularly in this period, and it didn’t do much to immerse me. It might work better for someone with more experience of the British political system, but it did not work for me,
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A clever and fascinating blend of fiction with historical fact, giving interesting insights into an era of challenge and change, with a cast of characters from political life and some daring suggestions and plot twists.
Well worth a read, an intriguing story woven around people, places and events in a dramatic time in history.
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The Intrigues of Jennie Lee by Alex Rosenberg is an intriguing alternative historical fiction, set in the turbulent period between the two World Wars. It follows the story of Jennie Lee, a young Scottish woman elected to Parliament as a Labour MP in 1929. It is a difficult time, the Great Depression is being felt around the globe and Fascism is rearing it's head on continental Europe. The author has re- imagined history to create a Britain where Oswald Mosely becomes Prime Minister and is involved in an intrigue which includes not just Jennie but also prominent figures like Elizabeth Bowes Lyons , Duchess of York and future Queen Mother, and former Prime Minister Lloyd George. As well as a political thriller, the author has created a compelling character in his version of Jennie , she is principled, determined and unwilling to accept the limitations society placed on her sex. I was completely hooked by her story with its many twists and turns . Overall a clever and excellently crafted work of fiction that puts a new spin on the political thriller. 
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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My thanks to Alex Rosenberg, John Hunt Publishing Ltd and NetGalley for the ARC. Intriguing and captivating, this alternative history to the one we know is an unusual take on events. Clearly if you're a purist it's possible you might not appreciate a history-changing time being overturned, but we must remember this is a fiction, a very well written fiction at that and an insight perhaps into the way people were thinking at the time. I'm not sure there was a character with which I felt much empathy. Jennie Lee, the main protagonist, sleeps with married men because she does not want to be held down by the possibility of a marriage proposal or having children. Her political leanings are far more important to her. She discovers her father is Ramsey MacDonald, someone who leads her own party, but with whom she has no sympathy or agreement. She does everything she can to bring him down, even finding herself within Oswald Mosley's set. Most of the fiction is based in fact; it is documented that Mosley was a womaniser with questionable morals and very seductive to both women and men with his ideas. This novel reimagines his rise to fame, with his becoming leader of the Labour party, which of course did not happen, and his comparison to Hitler and his beliefs. Jennie I felt was very mature for a woman of only twenty-four and I felt her ability to garner support and adoration from more sophisticated and learned MPs was questionable. She may have had the academic background but certainly I was not convinced she had the maturity to win people over to her way of thinking, like Winston Churchill for example. Having said that, The Intrigues of Jennie Lee was a compelling read.
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I got The Intrigues of Jennie Lee: A Novel by Alex Rosenberg, from Netgalley for a fair and honest review.

This is an alternative history, novel set in the UK during the the early 1930’s when Ramsay MacDonald, the then Labour Prime Minister left the party and formed a national unity government, with the other parties at the urging of King George V. What book does is that Jennie Lee, who does not know that MacDonald is her biological farther takes this event and sends Britten in another direction. 

What Alex Rosenberg did in this novel is write a great political novel up to and even better than, Michael Dobbs book, House of Cards. However what this novel does is use real people and just change one event that takes Britten in another direction. 

When I started reading The Intrigues of Jennie Lee: A Novel, I knew very little of history of that time, as I had not studied this specific period in British history, I had heard of the major historical charectors, and i am sure a quick internet search would help any reader find about the individuals, however this is not something you need to to as the book gives you enough information on each, as a normal political novel would. Though I did look up the real events after finishing the book.

This is a great novel well researched and easy to read, flowing from one event to another one in a smooth process. So if you are into Alternative History, or Political novels or even just into a great story then the latest novel by Alex Rosenberg’s book then you should read, The Intrigues of Jennie Lee: A Novel.
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I absolutely adored this book. The characters were so real that it sucked you in and made you feel a part of the story. You didn't want it to end!
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