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Book Review: Queen Of The Desert. The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell by Georgina Howell

Updated: Apr 13



I had been reading this book for months, captivated. This book is not just a story to me. Not a tale. But a huge learning curve, an inspiration.

This is an absolutely vital book to read. For two reasons. One- more people should know about Gertrude Bell as a person. Two- more women should read about Gertrude Bell, to let her life impact and benefit their own in so many positive ways.

She was truly unbelievable. She achieved an order of incredible feats in her life. I will not give too much away, as I think its beautiful following her life in the book, and also how she deals with the hurdles, and the successes. She is an inspiration to anybody unsure if they can do something, because she smashed any and all expectations.

She is a model to women (AND MEN) of what feminism is, to me. Not putting men down in order to raise women but instead she forges her own path. She creates her own ideal in which is she far more capable, physically and mentally as any person, independent of their sex.

There is a wealth of example for readers of the book to take. Even her upbringing, rich in love- even though her Mother died when she was very little. She was given huge freedoms to learn herself, she was given a garden, in which she was responsible for and allowed to play in nature. She was not restricted by her Father on how she could play, and it was never enforced at a young age that she must be ladylike, even though there was a social code for little girls, to be just that. Instead was allowed to play how she wished, long before the gender neutral debate came about. Perhaps this is the attitude that allowed her to do whatever she wanted, and didn't give her a limited mindset of her capabilities as a women. In her later childhood, she was given inspiration and guidance in “how to be a lady” by her Step-Mother. Perhaps at this later stage, she had already been gifted the foundation of understanding her capabilities, that the feminine side of her education was simple a gentile, pretty side of her life. She also demonstrates that it is entirely possible for women to be feminine and beautiful, whilst also kicking butt. Any stereotype you can imagine, she broke. She was her own person. She was a strong, wildly free women whilst being feminine.

I thoroughly recommend, if not beg you to read this book. There is a huge amount of inspiration and understanding to be taken from her life. She even deals, and gets screwed over by f*ck-boys. Ladies, this is a must read. I am so saddened that her life is not more well known. She was always incredibly modest. Perhaps her apparent suicide, illegal at the time, was her final wish for her life to be hushed. I hope not, because I think she has a huge amount that she can teach us still, and she deserves recoginition, for a life so extraordinary she is compared to Florence Nightingale and Marie Curie.

A must read. Thank you so much to my ever lovely Mum, who gifted me this book, and gifts me so many books about incredibly fierce, world changing women.


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