My Dear Bessie: A Love Story in Letters by Chris Barker

bookshelves: spring-2015, epistolatory-diary-blog, nonfiction, published-2015, wwii, under-20

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from April 23 to 24, 2015

Description: A love story in letters played out against the backdrop of the Second World War between Chris Barker, a solider in North Africa, and Bessie Moore, a Morse code interpreter at the Foreign Office in London.

A small blue box opened in 2008 revealed a wartime world of love, longing and frustration. On September 5th 1943, Chris Barker, a Signalman stationed near Tobruk decided to write to a former work colleague, Bessie Moore, back in London. The unexpected warmth of Bessie’s reply changed their lives forever.

Chris and Bessie’s love letters first appeared in Simon Garfield’s book To The Letter, they have toured literary festivals as part of Letters Live before getting their own book, My Dear Bessie, published this year on Valentine’s Day.

Hells bells, I don’t usually like romance yet this was so touching because these letters are real.

The Man of Gold by H.R.F. Keating , Evelyn Hervey

Description: Harriet Unwin, that prim, proper Victorian nanny who first captivated mystery fans in The GOVERNESS, is back once again, this time trying to save her new employee from going to the gallows for poisoning his wicked, miserly, and mean-spirited father.

To Scotland Yard, it’s an open-and-shut case: at age thirty, the widowed Riochard Partington just finally gets sick of living like a pauper while knowing that the income from his father’s pin factory is more than enough for him and his twin daughters to live a life of luxury. So, according to police theories, the dastardly, money-hungry son begins spiking his father’s food and drink with small dashes of arsenic until the old man finally keels over and dies.

But Harriet Unwin is equally convinced the police are shutting the case on the wrong man.

Read by Sheila Mitchell. H R F Keating writing as Evelyn Hervey

Keating does a good line in short, fun mysteries which are simply perfect as background to real life.


Harriet Unwin Series:
3* The Governess
3* The Man of Gold
TR Into the Valley of Death

2* Inspector Ghote’s Good Crusade (Inspector Ghote, #2)
3* The Murder of the Maharajah (Inspector Ghote, #12)
2* Inspector Ghote’s First Case (Inspector Ghote, #25)

On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson, Author of Silent Spring by William Souder

Description: Published on the fiftieth anniversary of her seminal book, Silent Spring, here is an indelible new portrait of Rachel Carson, founder of the environmental movementShe loved the ocean and wrote three books about its mysteries, including the international bestseller The Sea Around Us. But it was with her fourth book, Silent Spring, that this unassuming biologist transformed our relationship with the natural world.

Rachel Carson began work on Silent Spring in the late 1950s, when a dizzying array of synthetic pesticides had come into use. Leading this chemical onslaught was the insecticide DDT, whose inventor had won a Nobel Prize for its discovery. Effective against crop pests as well as insects that transmitted human diseases such as typhus and malaria, DDT had at first appeared safe. But as its use expanded, alarming reports surfaced of collateral damage to fish, birds, and other wildlife. Silent Spring was a chilling indictment of DDT and its effects, which were lasting, widespread, and lethal.

Published in 1962, Silent Spring shocked the public and forced the government to take action-despite a withering attack on Carson from the chemicals industry. The book awakened the world to the heedless contamination of the environment and eventually led to the establishment of the EPA and to the banning of DDT and a host of related pesticides. By drawing frightening parallels between dangerous chemicals and the then-pervasive fallout from nuclear testing, Carson opened a fault line between the gentle ideal of conservation and the more urgent new concept of environmentalism.

Elegantly written and meticulously researched, On a Farther Shore reveals a shy yet passionate woman more at home in the natural world than in the literary one that embraced her. William Souder also writes sensitively of Carson’s romantic friendship with Dorothy Freeman, and of her death from cancer in 1964. This extraordinary new biography captures the essence of one of the great reformers of the twentieth century.

Read by David Drummond

Turned down ‘Silent Spring’ and chose this instead given a lot of stuff can happen in fifty-two years. Turns out it is a wise choice as we get the gist of the initial New Yorker entries and informed about the fallout in the community concerning the issues. You get a lot of information for your money here – fascinating and recommended.

Carson’s education included creationism and eugenics eek.

22:04:2015: Earth Day was a good day to crack this one open.

The Castles of Edward I in Wales 1277-1307 by Christopher Gravett

bookshelves: spring-2015, architecture, britain-wales, caernafon, history, published-2007, under-10-ratings, giftee, military-manoeuvres, skim-through, reference

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Mimal
Read from April 21 to 22, 2015

Description: In 1277 Edward I gathered a huge army and marched into Wales to subdue the rebel Welsh princes who continued to raid and pillage English controlled areas of Wales, and even England itself. A key part of his strategy of subjugating and colonizing the Welsh was to erect a castle at every point where his army rested, to provide permanent bases for English garrisons and a visual reminder of English power.

This title takes a detailed look at the design, development and principles of defense of the Edwardian Welsh castles, documenting daily life within their walls and the historical events that took place around them. Looking at key sites such as Cardigan, Aberystwyth and Conwy it highlights the varied castle designs ranging from fortifications based on French models to the defenses inspired by Constantinople, illustrated with eight pages of full colour illustrations and cutaway artwork. Chris Gravett provides a clear explanation of why the castles were there, who lived in them and how they were built – crucial reading for anyone interested in some of the most romantic and militarily effective buildings ever created

Opening: The castles built by Edward I in Wales rank amongst the finest military structures in Europe. As the English king determined to stamp his authority on the province that refused to yield quietly, he directed the building of enormous structures that were as much a statement of power as they were defences

Lovely addition to the reference library, especially useful for checking facts in historical fiction.

Despite their size and cost, Edward’s castles rose with commendable speed.
Flint took eight and a half years (1277-86);
Harlech took seven and a half years (1283-90);
Builth took five and a half (1277-82);
Conwy took five years (1283-87);
Rhuddlan took four and a half (1277-82);
and Caernarfon (1283-c.1330)
and Beaumaris (1295-c.1330) took longer, though by February 1296 Beaumaris had inner curtain wall; at least 6.1m (20ft) high and in some
places 8.4m (28ft).

A Haunting by William Boyd

bookshelves: radio-4x, published-2000, spring-2015, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, boo-scary, under-10-ratings, play-dramatisation

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from April 16 to 22, 2015

Description: A landscape architect finds himself taken over by an unseen presence and is forced to make a strange drawing which he does not recognise. He then starts to act out of character. With John Sessions, Liam Brennan, Crawford Logan and Eliza Langland. Directed by Dave Batchelor.

3* A Haunting
4* Restless
5* Any Human Heart
4* Brazzaville Beach
2* Solo
3* Armadillo

Innkeeping with Murder by Tim Myers

Description: Tucked away in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is the Hatteras West Inn and Lighthouse. Innkeeper Alex Winston watches over the cozy getaway, and guests count on him to take care of everything from basic repairs to breakfast. But he also has to take care of the occasional murder case, too.When a visitor is found dead at the top of the lighthouse, Alex must solve the mystery and capture the culprit before the next guest checks out.

Opening: “Alex, we’ve got a problem.”At the sound of the maid’s voice, Alex Winston jerked his head up, cracking his skull on the steel pipe placed treacherously just above the opening of the furnace he’d been working on. Alex had been crouched in an awkward position staring at the mysterious workings of the inn’s antique boiler, trying unsuccessfully to figure out what was wrong with the blasted thing this time.

Very short and fluffy. Perfect as an inbetweenie, the lighthouse in the rockies is a fab setting. May or may not read another.

Fate Is the Hunter by Ernest K. Gann

bookshelves: spring-2015, autobiography-memoir, published-1961, trains-planes-automobiles, film-only, wwii, crash-forensics, philosophy

Recommended for: Laura, Wanda et al
Read from March 06 to April 22, 2015

Description: Ernest K. Gann’s classic memoir is an up-close and thrilling account of the treacherous early days of commercial aviation. In his inimitable style, Gann brings you right into the cockpit, recounting both the triumphs and terrors of pilots who flew when flying was anything but routine.…

Fate and destiny are bottom line answers to every precarious situation in Gann’s near-autobiography and philosophically speaking, that really ain’t my bag. Apart from that, it is a white-knuckle ride through the early days of commercial airlines.

The ‘why me’ and ‘lucked-out’s became palling.