Book Review: “Before Wallis: Edward VIII’s Other Women” by Rachel Trethewey

Hello!

I did not expect to finish two books this month but I am thrilled to do so, because I’m not reading as much as I did at the start of the year, so I have been feeling discouraged about it lately. And if I am reading, I’m not going as fast either, like with this book, I began reading it during the last week of March and it was smooth sailing for a while but then once I distracted with other things, I kind of lost my mojo with it.

Something you may not know about me is that I have thought if I was alive around the time that Edward was alive, I’d probably be one of his ‘royal groupies’ honestly him and Prince Albert (King George VI) were so good looking that I often wonder what exactly happened with the recent generations! I swear I think the good looks stopped after The Queen and her sister Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. Of course, this is just my opinion on the matter!


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Wallis Simpson was the woman who stole the king’s heart and rocked the monarchy – but she was not Edward VIII’s first or only love. This book is about the women he adored before Wallis dominated his life.

There was Rosemary Leveson Gower, the girl he wanted to marry and who would have made the perfect match for a future king; the Prince’s long-term mistress, Freda Dudley Ward, who exerted a pull almost equal to Wallis over her lover, but abided by the rules of the game and knew she would never marry him. Then there was Thelma Furness, his twice-married American lover, who enjoyed a domestic life with him, but realized it could not last forever and demanded nothing more than to be his mistress.

In each love affair, Edward behaved like a cross between a little boy lost and a spoilt child. Each one of the three women in this book could have changed the course of history. In examining their lives and impact on the heir to the throne, we question whether he ever really wanted to be king.

taken from Goodreads.

I have always wondered about Edward VIII, and how he, himself, saw the monarchy in the early 1900’s. He was an odd duck as royals go, as he would rather wear polo clothes and smoke out in public than keeping the suit and tie, discreet traditions, He also had a habit with chasing women too. As you learn in this book, there were quite a few women who had his attention before he became infatuated with Wallis Simpson.

When you first start reading, the author Rachel explains that while you will learn about the three main women in Edward’s life before meeting Wallis, later you will learn more about their lives after each relationship fizzled out. The first lady is Lady Rosemary Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, as she acts as a nurse in a field hospital created by her own mother, Millicent, The Duchess of Sutherland around 1918. It was while taking care of wounded soldiers that she met the prince for the first time.

The more I was able to learn about Rosemary, the more I fell in love with her too. It is such a shame that the King and Queen refused their son’s wish to marry her because she was the ultimate woman for the king-to-be, but it also reminds you that despite being part of the upper class of nobility and well-liked throughout the royal family, even they had their standards. If it wasn’t for King Edward VII’s “secret” relationship to Rosemary’s half-aunt Daisy, Countess of Warwick (plus her blunt opinions of politics!) Rosemary would have been the perfect bride and Queen consort to the prince,

Once that relationship was over, Edward moved onto another well known lady of nobility: Freda Dudley Ward. She was the wife of William Dudley Ward, the Liberal member of Parliament (MP) and they had two daughters and you will get to know everyone, trust me. Edward’s relationship to Freda lasted for 10 years and is the bulk of the actual book.

This is where you start to see a noticeable shift personality wise with Edward, because Rachel includes the letters he wrote to the Queen, Rosemary and Freda. He leans on Freda on support not just for a sexual release. He was as invested with Freda as if they were married like a regular couple. Honestly, at first I really wasn’t a big fan of Freda, mainly because she was next in line, but as I continued reading, I ended up changing my mind. She was first and most importantly a mother in a era where the children where mostly left with nannies but she truly loved her daughters and they came before anything, including her lovers!

And then finally, we move to Thelma Furness, Viscountess Furness. My opinion of Thelma never went away, because she just seemed so self-centered compared to her counterparts. Thelma had a twin sister named Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, and Thelma is the aunt to Gloria Vanderbilt and great-aunt to Anderson Cooper! After figuring this out, I was pretty much done with learning more about Thelma’s personal life.

He did not want to be a prince on a pedestal, but rather to be treated like an ordinary man.

One thing that I definitely kept in the back of my mind was when Prince Charles was starting his relationship with Camilla, before he met Lady Diana, because Camilla was already married, The Queen Mother and Lord Louis Mountbatten thought that Charles would ruin the monarchy because it was like when Edward met Wallis, as she was already divorced once in the beginning and then of course become divorced again to keep the prince. They had arranged that Prince Charles meet and talk to his paternal great-uncle The Duke of Windsor. Obviously we don’t know what was said but whether or not Edward had the same thoughts about Camilla, Charles didn’t care and perused her anyways.

The thing is, I was thinking that the book itself reminded me of Prince Charles, when he was running around with all of these women in the his 20’s and 30’s, before settling down, but honestly he made think about the royal family’s current situation with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Edward was never happy with his public persona as the first son of the king, and you could see it on his face that he seemed bored and sad in a way, and I think he acted out with his many relationships to find some normalcy in his life. We don’t know what truly goes on within the royal court and households so I actually saw the Harry and Meghan exit as senior members in a new light.

If you are interested in learning about the British royal family, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and everything else that happened from 1918-1934, this is the book for you. It was a very interesting read but I only gave it three stars because it did become somewhat boring towards the end.

Have you read ‘Before Wallis’ by Rachel Trethewey yet? If you have, what did you get out of it the most? Did your opinion(s) about the previous and/or modern royals change at all?

Book Review: “A Touch Of Ruin” by Scarlett St. Clair

Hello!

Well, I am back with my third review of a Scarlett St. Clair book.

If you didn’t know I have already read A Touch Of Darkness written with Persephone, as the main focus, and A Game Of Fate told in Hades’ point of view of the same plot. This one continues Persephone’s story following the events at the end of both books. Scarlett is releasing A Touch Of Malice in May 2021 and A Game Of Retribution sometime next winter. I know it seems very confusing but that’s just how I read both series and will as the rest of the books are released.

I really tired during the last week of January to change up what was next on my list but I couldn’t leave it alone and honestly, I think it was the best thing I could have done because now I can officially move on from the story of Hades and Persephone and read other genres, like nonfiction, and be fully committed to it.


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Persephone’s relationship with Hades has gone public and the resulting media storm disrupts her normal life and threatens to expose her as the Goddess of Spring.

Hades, God of the Dead, is burdened by a hellish past that everyone’s eager to expose in an effort to warn Persephone away.

Things only get worse when a horrible tragedy leaves Persephone’s heart in ruin and Hades refusing to help. Desperate, she takes matters into her own hands, striking bargains with severe consequences.

Faced with a side of Hades she never knew and crushing loss, Persephone wonders if she can truly become Hades’ queen.

taken from Goodreads.

I think the best way to describe this story is, it was a roller coaster of different emotions. I was proud, envious, in love, sad, and God help me, aroused throughout much of the book. Sorry to any family members out there who are reading this post and wishing I hadn’t shared that little tebibit.

“I just need a mental health day,” Persephone said.

Anyways…

There are a lot of things in this story. We talk about the ultimatum that Demitri gave her in the beginning, the ins and outs of Apollo and Sybil’s relationship, how the Goddess of Spring is dealing with her new found powers, and eventually we get on to Lexa. On top of all of this, we have the new relationship with Hades and the prospect of becoming his wife and eventually Queen of the Underworld.

As much as I saw Persephone as a strong woman in the first book, I didn’t really see her like that here. There are a few parts where she comes out like a total badass, but I find with this one, she is more whiny than anything else. Whenever she was posed with going back and forth between the Underworld and Upperworld, you as the reader could clearly see her juggle more than she could really handle and even though I admired her for wanting to being present in both worlds with her friends she never really found a way to find a steady solution until the end of it. Of course, now that I mention it on here, that was probably the point of the whole story in the first place.

Despite the fact that the story is stretched out in three parts, every single chapter had a lot of information that I am still trying to digest because I know the next book is going to be even more difficult. I am looking forward to checking it out but I am also in need to meditate with Hecate as well or hang out with Hermes, either one would be a blessing in disguise!

Have you read this series yet? What were your thoughts on this installment of the saga of Hades x Persephone? Were your emotions all over the place like mine?

Blogmas | 12 Days Of Christmas Book Tag

Hello!

So, apparently I did not have a post ready for today when we started the week. Luckily for you, I have been sort of hoarding a few different tags in the past few months and thought I would give the only Christmas tag a go!

This tag was created by Lizzie Loves Books on her YouTube channel a few years ago. She didn’t have any rules that I thought I would share with you, so looks like we can just move on to the questions because personally, I don’t like tagging others, especially in the middle of the month where a good chunk of bloggers have probably finished their blogmas posts. If you do want to do the challenge, please link me to your post because I do like to read everybody’s answers.

A Partridge In A Pear Tree | What is your favorite stand-alone book?

It was really hard to chose my favorite; mainly because I don’t want to pick just one, but I did it anyways.

One of the first books I read after I graduated from high school ten years ago, was The Secret Diary of A Princess by Melanie Clegg. The reason why I brought up school is, I used to read so many historical fiction books in my teens. This one is about Marie Antoinette while she is making her way to France from her homeland Austria. It is very interesting to think about how these people were thinking at the time, and I tend to be drawn to them because I like thinking some parts could be exactly what they were doing while they were alive. This was my first book about Marie Antoinette and I was purely inspired by the film that came out in 2006, it is definitely one of my favorites ever, so this just added fuel to the fire basically.

Two Turtle Doves | Who is your favorite book ship?

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, boy!

This one was kind of easy, although I had the same issue with the previous on which one to choose, so I just ended up picking both of them because I loved both of them.

Okay, the first couple that came to me was Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinisky. I’m still not happy about how the third book went but that’s just my opinion. Anyways, they were the perfect couple set in high school. I think the real reason why I was so for them is because I still love the notion of high school sweethearts and the fact it is basically out of style now really hurts me internally.

The other bookship is a little awkward because in the review for it, I wasn’t for it in the beginning but now I can’t stop thinking about it. The book is The German Midwife by Mandy Robotham. It is set during the mist of WWII and the main character Anke is a midwife who is helping all women bring their babies into the world, this means Jewish and the offspring of Adolf Hitler. I’m just going to leave that there for now.


Three French Hens | What about your favorite trilogy?

Well, since I’ve only finished one so far, it would have to be All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. There is one other series that I am loving but I’m not done with it yet. I’m hoping in the new year, I can add the final book to my reading challenge. The series is Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. It has really surprised how much I am loving these books but honestly I am such a fan of Louisa though and I think I’m just plain nosey to find out what happens next to her story!


Four Calling Birds | What is your favorite beast and/or creature?

I still think reading Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets was the worst idea ever, because like Ron, I am also scared of spiders and was a nice warning to what you would experience in the next book, dealing with the Dementors. The thing is, my favorite creature(s) were featured in Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.


Five Golden Rings | Show us five golden books!

From left to right: The German Midwife by Mandy Robotham, Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone, After You by JoJo Moyes, To All Of The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han & Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard


Six Geese a Laying | What is your least favorite book?

The only book that comes to mind for this question is, The Ring and The Crown by Melissa de la Cruz. It was just pure awful! Too many characters for me to follow at one time.


Seven Swans a Swimming | Show us a book with water on the cover

This is sort of embarrassing but you asked…

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The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister


Eight Maids a Milking | What fictional food do you wish you could taste?

Okay, for me, it is unlikely I would ever get to travel to Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida, especially if this COVID mess continues but I would love to try butterbeer and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. Despite the fear of getting a jelly bean flavored as tripe sounds disgusting, I’d still like to get one to snack on and the other to basically sit as a souvenir.


Nine Ladies Dancing | What is your favorite dancing couples?

I feel like the only book I’ve ever read that has dancing mentioned was the Stefan’s Diaries series. Since the first book takes place before he and Damon are turned into a vampire by Katherine, and is set in the 1800’s, I do believe there is some form of dancing involved in it.


Ten Lords a Leaping | What is your favorite book-to-movie adaption?

If you haven’t been following me for very long, this might shock you, because my favorite is Me Before You. I thought it was as close as you can get to mentioning everything that happens in the book. I still laughed and cried in the same places and I just felt they were one. While I read the second book in January, I still kept having the image of Emilia Clark as Louisa, Jenna Coleman as her sister Trina and Janet McTeer as Will’s mother,


Eleven Pipers Piping | What about your favorite book-to-film soundtrack too?

I know this might be a little bias but the soundtrack I made for Alias: Sister Spy by Laura Peyton Roberts is my favorite, and before anybody asks, no, you can’t hear it because I made it for a final in my freshman English class in 2007. It’s bad enough I still remember when my teacher played it in class.

I had a software for our computer that allowed me to create beats with pre-recorded sounds of various instruments for Christmas the year before. At the time, we couldn’t afford internet so I had found the app as we would call them now, as my lifeline that whole summer going into my high school years. I want to say I did a 20 song collection that was inspired by the book too, and what is really interesting is that, I wasn’t into rock music during this time but I had strong rock and heavy metal sounds within the score.

Twelve Drummers Drumming | What was your favorite ending?

Out of all the questions, this was the one I’ve been thinking about the most and I don’t know the answer…

The safest one would have to be Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han. It’s the final book of the series and I really felt it when I read it, and I totally wanted to cry because I just thought it was the most perfect end to this story.

Before I leave, I have to say, I really tried to pick books that I hadn’t read this year but I couldn’t help it. These are the books that still live on in my brain at the moment, so trying to push them out of the way seemed like a bad idea but I was proud of myself for going back to see all of the 100+ books I’ve read since 2006! Of course, there are a few missing but that’s still a HUGE number for one person I think!

If you would like to follow my journey next year, click here to be directed to my Goodreads account.

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Book Review: “Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson

Hello!

Since ending my original reading challenge for the year in July, I’ve only finished one book for August and September, but October was a little different. I continue to read multiple books at the same time but I’m not going through them as quickly as I did in the beginning of the year. I find it a little weird but I think if I can finish out the year with 25 books is an awesome accomplishment!

Last month I found a book that I’ve been wanting to read for a very long time, since probably 2015, but I never saw it on the shelves at Wal-Mart after it came out (and trust me, I searched for it!) so it has been a part of my TBR list for much longer than I wanted it to. However, I was going through Prime Reading one day and just scrolling through and there I saw that beautiful cover that has basically been plastered into my depths of my mind for the past six years, and I knew I just had to get it.


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They were the most prominent American family of the twentieth century. The daughter they secreted away made all the difference.

Joe and Rose Kennedy’s strikingly beautiful daughter Rosemary attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the Queen of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters. And yet, Rosemary was intellectually disabled — a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family. Major new sources — Rose Kennedy’s diaries and correspondence, school and doctors’ letters, and exclusive family interviews — bring Rosemary alive as a girl adored but left far behind by her competitive siblings. Kate Larson reveals both the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave to Rosemary and then — as the family’s standing reached an apex — the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly intractable in her early twenties. Finally, Larson illuminates Joe’s decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age twenty-three, and the family’s complicity in keeping the secret. Rosemary delivers a profoundly moving coda: JFK visited Rosemary for the first time while campaigning in the Midwest; she had been living isolated in a Wisconsin institution for nearly twenty years. Only then did the siblings understand what had happened to Rosemary and bring her home for loving family visits. It was a reckoning that inspired them to direct attention to the plight of the disabled, transforming the lives of millions.

taken from Goodreads.

I may not be interested in politics, but there have been a few Presidents in the past that I have enjoyed learning about over the years–some were forced because of school but my love for the Kennedy’s has always been something I’ve grown to learn about on my own. Since I am a history lover, the story about the Kennedy family has been like my other obsession’s; where I have to watch every documentary and movie about them. Thanks to this though, I did have some knowledge about Rosemary Kennedy but it honestly wasn’t much until I was able to read this book by Kate Clifford Larson that I really got a bitter sense about Rosemary in general but also the ins and outs of the elite American families in the mid-1900’s!

I think there are many things to keep in mind about reading this book, Rosemary was born in early 1918, at a time where disability as a whole was looked down upon by everybody. Despite the fact that Rose and Joe Kennedy chose to keep her at home with their family, it wasn’t the norm back then. Some families were very embarrassed by any kind of imperfection, especially a family that was in the media a lot through aristocratic events and political campaigns. She was taught to be a lady out in public and Kate does make a point to say how much Rosemary loved to dress up and dance with various boys, who wouldn’t know she was disabled at all because she carried herself in such a way that she had to be absolutely perfect.

When I started reading, I began to really feel for both Rose and Joe, because in a way they reminded me of my own parents. They didn’t quite know what to do with this child, who is completely different than other children they have been around. Although Rosemary had two older brothers, I had two older cousins so my folks clearly knew I was going to have more challenges to deal with compared to them. The differences between Rosemary and I, she went to various Catholic owned schools in the Boston area, plus a boarding school in England whereas I stayed in two schools close to home. I was put in a number of special needs classes while in school but I was also taking regular classes as well. My disability was mainly physical, not mentally but I would still occasionally socialize with kids who had one or other and sometimes both too.

There were a lot of stuff that I was happy about, like when Joe Jr. and Jack would take Rosemary to dances and actually dance with their younger sister. They seemed to really care for her, technically all of the Kennedy children absolutely adored her! The two sisters Rosemary was basically paired up with all through her life were Kathleen or Kick as she was called by family and close friends, and Eunice. Rosemary and Kick went to a debutante ball in England when Joe Kennedy was an Ambassador for the United States just before World War II broke out. The author mentions how much Rosemary was like her mother Rose on her love of fashion, but the fact that she made such a positive impact on everyone to the King George VI and Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, to the press and rest of the families invited to the huge event makes you think how much jealous could have been produced among the sisters.

Now there is a chapter that I really grew to hate, and it is titled “November 1941” and this date is significant because this was when Rosemary Kennedy was changed forever after having the a new operation: it is called a “lobotomy” and although this is a known to have happened to her now, but only one person is known to make the decision for her to have it done. Let’s just say that I lost faith in this person afterwards. I was so angered by the result of it and found out how this person died to be a little bit of karma working some magic later on in their life.

Anyways, I did have a favorite chapter and it was the last – which was “Rosemary Made The Difference” and this was such a great section because as much as the Kennedy clan didn’t want to make their work about creating better medical discoveries, school teachings, and other resources for mental challenged people to be defined by Rosemary, but they were clearly inspired by everything she went through all through her life but also what her siblings saw as well. Eunice Kennedy was able to do a lot in the small amount of time while both of her brothers Jack and Robert Kennedy were in office as President and Senator respectively, like creating the Special Olympics! Rosemary’s youngest sibling Ted Kennedy was also responsible for getting the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) into law in 1990.

Rosemary is at the heart of everything, without her, I feel like the Kennedy name would be extremely different. Everybody knows about the ‘curse’ that plaques this family. but more people need to know about Rosemary, the ups and downs on how it was like (and still is) to be disabled in a world where everyone has to fit a certain mold to be accepted into society and that was the main reason why I wanted to talk about of these chapters on here.

I hope you check out this book whether or not you are as obsessed about The Kennedys. If you are taking part in Nonfiction November, or if you are interested in learning about mental disabilities throughout history, maybe you should consider giving this a chance. I hope you enjoy!

Have you read “Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter” by Kate Clifford Larson yet? If you have, what were your thoughts about it?

snowflake

Book Review: “The German Midwife” by Mandy Robotham

Well, here we are!

This is my last book review to be included in my “20 Books In 2020” reading challenge. I saw this one day while I was scrolling through KU and something about the cover just made me click it and read the blurb, and once I did that I was instantly intrigued with the concept. What if Evan Braun had had a child? This question would play with me while I was reading and after I had finished it.

If you are interested in historical fiction, especially if it is set in the depths of World War II with all of its ugly history dealing with an evil dictator like Adolf Hitler and of course with the aftermath of the Holocaust and its survivors. There are very few times that a book itself would read like if you were sitting in a movie theater watching it on the biggest screen and the volume blasted as loud as it can to pull you into it ever more.


51X-kIIkghLAn enthralling new tale of courage, betrayal and survival in the hardest of circumstances that readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Secret Orphan and My Name is Eva will love.

Germany, 1944. A prisoner in the camps, Anke Hoff is doing what she can to keep her pregnant campmates and their newborns alive.

But when Anke’s work is noticed, she is chosen for a task more dangerous than she could ever have imagined. Eva Braun is pregnant with the Führer’s child, and Anke is assigned as her midwife.

Before long, Anke is faced with an impossible choice. Does she serve the Reich she loathes and keep the baby alive? Or does she sacrifice an innocent child for the good of a broken world?


When I first started reading it on July 20th, my only note I put on the status update on Goodreads was “On chapter 6 and it’s already a doozy!” I am familiar with the hardships that the Jews dealt with during their time either hiding from the SS soldiers and being starved and worked to death in various camps all over Europe. While I was in high school, I took a course called “Novels” and we read Elie Weisel’s Night. This was the first time I ever read a book about a survivor’s time in the concertation camps and I literally thought I would never read a book from that time period ever again.

After reading about Enjeela and Malala’s stories escaping their war-torn homelands earlier this year, I figured I couldn’t necessarily talk myself out of not reading a book set in this time frame.

Our main character Anke Hoff, is the everyday woman in the mid-1940’s, she was young but trapped in the gray area of being a German but not supporting Adolf Hitler and The Reich. She was also helping all women–including Jewish–give birth to their children. The story is given to you in two different parts, so you begin with the character about Irena, a Jewish woman giving birth in a crowded and nasty hut full of other women, including Anke and her helper Rosa. You learn about the ins and outs of bringing a baby into the world and how Jewish babies were stripped away from their mothers and put to death for all to hear in the camp.

The second part of the story are these diary-like entries, they include dates and estimated locations. These tell the story of Anke’s life before ending up in the camps. You get to see everything that happens within a hospital before the war erupted and how she is captured by the Gestapo and eventually sent to a camp. At first, this section was my least favorite because I thought it would be too much information for the reader, including myself to separate while reading about her current living situation. However, it was in this part that talked about how the Nazi doctors and officials treated babies with physical disabilities. This is the reason why in my first note I said “it was a doozy” because I wasn’t necessarily expecting it, but while I was sad to learn what would happen to this innocent babies, it really gave me a sense of who Anke was as not only a midwife but a human being at this time.

In a way to luminate that Anke is a regular woman, the author set up a love interest, and I will be honest, I wasn’t much of a fan for it in the beginning, but when we learn more about Dieter Stenz, the quicker I was willing to overlook my initial reaction to him. As the story was ending and we learn what happens to him, my emotions were all over the place! It also didn’t help that this was the final book in my Goodreads challenge for the year. If you didn’t know by now, I finished 20 books in eight months!

The final thing I enjoyed about this story was that the author Mandy Robotham, is actually a real midwife. This made me really happy to learn this in the beginning because I knew she would include anything she has learned throughout her medical schooling and career as a midwife too. It also made me realize that everything that was discussed about childbirth inside the camps and domestic life in the 1930’s and 40’s could be true in some form despite the fact that the story is fictionalized. So, if you are interested in learning about midwifery, enjoy reading historical fiction and/or a good ‘what if’ kind of story, then you will love this book; if you decide to read it, please let me know your thoughts about it.

If you have read Mandy Robotham’s first novel “The German Midwife” or “A Woman Of War” as it was titled in the United Kingdom? What were your thoughts about Anke Hoff’s story? 

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