Reviews

‘As Kirsten Ellis vividly shows, Hester Stanhope’s story is one of brave (and often foolhardy) triumph over the straitjacket of Regency attitudes and the even more hidebound conventions of Islamic society. Stanhope was the subject of a recent study … but Ellis has unearthed startling new aspects of this remarkable woman’s life, such as Hester’s relationships with no fewer than three Napoleonic spies. Ellis’s enthusiasm for her heroine makes Star Of The Morning a fascinating study with some trenchant points about the position of strong-minded women in male-dominated societies.’

Barry Forshaw, Daily Express, 29 August 2008

‘What is it about ‘the east’ that seems to attract powerful Englishwomen? … Each of them, however, was following in the footsteps of Lady Hester Stanhope, first among equals, and the subject of this spirited new biography … Star Of The Morning is a fascinating and atmospheric biography of a truly remarkable woman. Kirsten Ellis has left no stone unturned in this admirable book, doing some mean travelling of her own in the process’

Katie Hickman, The Daily Mail, 23 August 2008

‘Kirsten Ellis…is keen to take her subject out of the category of “benign but barking” to which single women travellers were often confined. The ground has been well covered in earlier works, but Ellis has unearthed fresh material, and retells the story with idiosyncratic panache… Ellis is a vivid narrator with an eye for detail: the perfumed dinners attended by naked female slaves; the dusk return of the swallows to the Umayyad mosque.’

Sara Wheeler, The Daily Telegraph, 23 August 2008

‘In Ellis’s account…we have a very different Hester Stanhope: a woman who has inherited the mantle of her Prime Minister forebears (William Pitt the Younger was her uncle; Pitt the Elder her grandfather), showing due leadership, courage under fire, and a mission to count in the imperial power games being played in the East.’

The Scotsman, 23 August 2008

‘An intense and readable biography…the exploits of headstrong proto-feminists in alien cultures make for good copy and perhaps, a good film. Ellis writes clearly and objectively…and refuses to be swayed by her subject’s emotional excesses… she is excellent on historical detail, particularly the interplay between international and local politics around the Mediterranean.’

Andrew Lycett, Literary Review, August 2008

‘Star of the Morning tells a rattling good story well’

The Sunday Times

‘A detailed, passionate and highly readable account of the truly ‘extraordinary life’ of Lady Hester Stanhope, this book will take you from the political scene of Regency London to the olive groves of the Middle East via a myriad of other adventures.’

Natalie Baker, The Bookbag, September 2008

Review by Robert Irwin in The Independent

Although I disagree with its conclusions I rather enjoyed Robert Irwin’s review in The Independent. A number of reviewers seemed to resent my treating Hester as something other than merely an eccentric and failed English aristocrat. Irwin makes the same point with more flair, and also graciously recognises the new research in Star of the Morning. – KE