The Strangled Queen (Los Reyes Malditos, #2) by Maurice Druon

Description: The King is dead. Long live the King.

With King Philip IV dead, and the Kingdom left in disarray, as the fatal curse of the Templars plagues the royal house of France.

Imprisoned in Chateau Gaillard, Marguerite of Burgundy has fallen into disgrace. Her infidelity has left her estranged husband, Louis X King of France, with neither heir nor wife.

The web of scandal, murder and intrigue that once wove itself around the Iron King continues to afflict his descendants, as the destruction of his dynasty continues at the hands of fate.

Wonderful storyline surrounding the events of 1314 and I don’t think I had grasped the Lombards so well as I feel I do now.

Loius X: called the Quarreler, the Headstrong, or the Stubborn. Louis allowed serfs to buy their freedom, which was the first step towards the abolition of serfdom, abolished slavery and readmitted French Jews into the kingdom.

The scenery in these films is most definitely odd.

4* The Iron King
4* The Strangled Queen
The Poisoned Crown
The She-Wolf of France
The Lily and the Lion

The Iron King

bookshelves: film-only, spring-2014, historical-fiction, published-1955

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Susanna – Censored by GoodReads
Read from April 01 to 26, 2014

Description: With the royal coffers empty, and no formalised system of taxation, King Philippe IV (Tchéky Karyo) asks Jacques de Molay (Gérard Depardieu), the Grand Master of the Knights Templar, for a loan. When he is refused, the King has every member of the Order arrested on the same night (Friday the 13th of October), and seizes the gold anyway.

Under torture, the Grand Master confesses to spitting on the cross and is convicted of heresy. The King promptly has him burnt at the stake, coercing the Pope into greenlighting the whole affair. However, as Molay burns, he issues a curse upon the King and Pope Clement, and all of their descendants for 13 generations…
When the Pope dies shortly afterward, it seems as though the curse is at work.
Meanwhile, Robert of Artois, a French nobleman, feels that he has been cheated out of his inheritance by his aunt, Mahaut (Jeanne Moreau). Her daughters are married to the King’s sons, and when Robert learns of their infidelity, he enlists the help of the King’s daughter, Isabella, to bring them down.

His actions set in motion a series of events that are to have wide-ranging consequences for both France and England.

4* The Iron King
The Strangled Queen
The Poisoned Crown
The She-Wolf of France
The Lily and the Lion

King Philippe IV (Tchéky Karyo) asks Jacques de Molay (Gérard Depardieu)for a loan.

The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains by Owen Wister

bookshelves: film-only, published-1902, western, skoolzy-stuff, classic, spring-2014, lifestyles-deathstyles, lit-richer, north-americas, adventure

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Misfit
Read on April 26, 2014

Description: In the untamed West, pioneers came to test their fortunes — and their wills. The Wyoming territory was a harsh, unforgiving land, with its own unwritten code of honor by which men lived and died. Into this rough landscape rides the Virginian, a solitary man whose unbending will is his only guide through life. The Virginian’s unwavering beliefs in right and wrong are soon tested as he tries to prove his love for a woman who cannot accept his sense of justice; at the same time, a betrayal by his most trusted friend forces him to fight against the corruption that rules the land. Still as exciting and meaningful as it was when first published one hundred years ago, Owen Wister’s epic tale of a man caught between his love for a woman and his quest for justice exemplifies one of the most significant and enduring themes in all of American literature. With remarkable character depth and vivid passages, “The Virginian” stands not only as the first great novel of American Western literature, but as a testament to the eternal struggle between good and evil in humanity. With an engaging new introduction by Gary Scharnhorst, professor of English at the University of New Mexico, this volume is an indispensable addition to the library of American Western literature.

You know, I could happily spend some days going through literary Westerns such as this…

Laura found the full film on youtube

Hindle Wakes by Stanley Houghton

bookshelves: published-1910, play-dramatisation, spring-2014, under-10-ratings, radio-4x, britain-england, lifestyles-deathstyles, lancashire, edwardian

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from April 25 to 26, 2014


4 Extra Debut. Lancashire, 1912. Can Fanny Hawthorn defy her parents’ wishes for her future? Stars Sophie Stanton and Sue Johnston.

Description: The play is set in the fictional mill town of Hindle in Lancashire in England, and concerns two young people who are discovered to have been having what would now be called a “dirty weekend” during their holiday, during the town’s wakes week. Their families pressure them to get married, but the young woman refuses. She is disowned by her people but manages to get her job at the mill back.

It has been filmed four times, twice in the silent era (1918, 1927), and twice in the sound era (1931, 1952) although the film versions have tended to open out the play considerably. There was also a grittier TV movie version of it (1976), starring Donald Pleasence and co-directed by Laurence Olivier.

The 1931 film starred Belle Chrystal as the mill girl and John Stuart as the employer’s son, with Sybil Thorndike, Edmund Gwenn and Norman McKinnel. Parts of it were filmed in Blackpool.

Listen here:

Sue Johnston

History of the Rain by Niall Williams

bookshelves: published-2014, spring-2014, newtome-author, library-in-norway, fradio, britain-ireland, radio-4, amusing, books-about-books-and-book-shops, families

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from April 09 to 26, 2014


BABT – Looks delicious!

Description: We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive or to keep alive those who only live now in the telling.

Nineteen year old Ruth Swain is lying in her childhood home in the small Irish village of Faha in the attic room at the top of the stairs in the bed which her father had to construct in situ and which turned out to be as much boat as bed. She has Something Wrong with her, having collapsed during her fresher year at Trinity in Dublin, and finds herself bedbound in the attic room beneath the rain, in the margins between this world and the next.

Ruth is in search of her father. To understand the father she has lost. To find him Ruth journeys through the ancestry of the curious Swain family – from the Reverend Swain her great-grandfather, to her grandfather Abraham to her father Virgil – and in doing so discovers an enchanting story of pole-vaulting, soldiering, stubbornness, leaping salmon, poetry, the pursuit of the Impossible Standard, and the wild rain-sodden history of fourteen acres of the worst farming land in Ireland. Above all, Ruth embarks on a journey through books. Three thousand, nine hundred and fifty-eight books to be precise, which are piled high and line the walls of her attic room. As Ruth searches for her father in their pages, her story becomes a vital, witty and poignant celebration of imagination, books, love and the healing power of storytelling.

History of the Rain is the latest novel from Niall Williams, the author of bestselling novels including As It is In Heaven, The Fall of the Light, Only Say the Word and Four Letters of Love which is currently being adapted into a film.

Abridged by Doreen Estall
Read by Ailish Symons
Producer Heather Larmour.

Episode 1: Witty and poignant story of a woman’s search for her deceased father.

Episode 2: Ruth has Something Wrong with her, having collapsed during her fresher year at Trinity in Dublin, and finds herself bedbound in the attic room beneath the rain, in the margins between this world and the next.

Episode 3:Ruth tells of her father’s education and recalls a significant moment in her own.”

Episode 4: Ruth follows the course of her father’s story as it leads to the sea.

Episode 5: Ruth relates the curious circumstances in which Virgil first met her mother.

Episode 6: Virgil must find some work in Faha, whilst Ruth undergoes more tests.

Episode 7: Ruth recounts the arrival of her and her twin Aeney into her father’s life.

Episode 8: Ruth relates the events that led to a devastating family tragedy

Episode 9: When Virgil stops writing poetry Ruth and her mother devise a scheme to help

Episode 10: As Ruth nears the end of Virgil’s story, is she any closer to finding her father?

Listen here

Staging the Blues: From Tent Shows to Tourism by Paige A. McGinley

bookshelves: e-book, ipad, net-galley, music, published-2014

Recommended for: Susan
Read from April 21 to 25, 2014


Description: Description

Singing was just one element of blues performance in the early twentieth century. Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and other classic blues singers also tapped, joked, and flaunted extravagant costumes on tent show and black vaudeville stages. The press even described these women as “actresses” long before they achieved worldwide fame for their musical recordings. In Staging the Blues, Paige A. McGinley shows that even though folklorists, record producers, and festival promoters set the theatricality of early blues aside in favor of notions of authenticity, it remained creatively vibrant throughout the twentieth century. Highlighting performances by Rainey, Smith, Lead Belly, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee in small Mississippi towns, Harlem theaters, and the industrial British North, this pioneering study foregrounds virtuoso blues artists who used the conventions of the theater, including dance, comedy, and costume, to stage black mobility, to challenge narratives of racial authenticity, and to fight for racial and economic justice.

Opening to the Introduction: Every Tuesday and Thursday night, hundreds gather at Beale on Broadway, a blues bar and music venue located in the shadow of Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis, Missouri.

This is not for the browser or for those who hold minimum interest in the blues; McGinley has penned almost a thesis on this subject and a corker it is too. All aspects are covered from costume and accessories, through to dialogue and body language. A masterful, dense work of great value to avid fans.

Listing the artistes as I came across them to make you drool across your keyboard.

Kim Massie at the Beale on Broadway St. Louis


Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Up Above My Head

Black Betty by LEADBELLY

W.C. Handy – Memphis Blues

Thomas Dorsey – The Father of Gospel Music. White Christian antitheatrical aversion to Black African gospel music.

Cousin Joe – How Come My Dog Don’t Bark. The discussion was ‘how could – and should – a black performer speak from stage?’ (

Paige A. McGinley is Assistant Professor of Performing Arts at Washington University in St. Louis.


The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists

bookshelves: pirates-smugglers-wreckers, philosophy, zoology, seven-seas, winter-20112012

Read from January 02 to 03, 2012

Dedication – To Sophie, who has a quarter of a million pounds

Opening – ‘The best bit about being a pirate,’ said the pirate with gout, ‘is the looting.’

There be footnotes and a map – what more do you need to add to a humourous script about Darwin and pirates and Mr Bobo

Funniest moment – page 82. Luckily they were not having their climactic fight in the Prague Natural History Museum which is full of trilobites and not much else


4* for me – others (not needing a humorous palate cleanser) will have to be guided by a 3*

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab

bookshelves: adventure, doo-lally, flufferoonies, winter-20112012, seven-seas, series, published-2006, pirates-smugglers-wreckers, ouch, period-piece, paper-read, amusing, young-adult

Read from January 02 to 03, 2012

** spoiler alert ** dedication: To Sophie, who still has a quarter of a million pounds of which I have not seen a penny, even though this is the second entire book that I have dedicated to her

Opening: ‘That one looks almost exactly like a whale!’

Again – lovely-jubbly maps and interesting factual footnotes such as #7 – The cement exuded by barnacles is an extremely tough protein polymer. It is twice as strong as the epoxy glue used on the space shuttle. Also, the barnacle penis is ten times as long as the rest of its body.

On page six the cap’n is making a list of when it is acceptable for a pirate to cry:

1 – when holding a seagull covered in oil
2 – when singing a shanty that reminds him of orphans
3 – when confronted by the unremitting loneliness of the human condition
4 – chops

If you like Pterry-like humour, and like the idea of a send-up of ol’ Ahab this will suit you just fine. The lads here are arguing over who will read this next.

4* – The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (2004)
4* – Pirates! In an Adventure with Whaling (2005)


Forbush and the Penguins

bookshelves: one-penny-wonder, antarctica, published-1965, zoology, under-20, sciences, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, debut

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Charles
Read from April 16 to 24, 2014


Description: ‘Forbush and the Penguins’ is the story of a young man on a solitary mission in Antarctica who finds the challenge of being “the only man in the world” as enriching as it is terrifying.

The main man is hunting down the film whilst I hunt for book bargains. Thanks Charles, this definitely looks right up my alley/down my street.

HUZZAH – found a ‘v. good condition’ one-penny-wonder

Dedication: FOR LYNDSEY

Opening: When the helicopter had gone and its sound was no more than a minute concussion of the air on the eardrums Forbush stood in the centre of the ring of stones to look up at the smoking mountain, Erebus, and ask for a safe conduct through the summer. In return he pledged truthfulness, the will to try.

The pages are sepia coloured but clean and barely opened, so my guess is that this has stood on a shelf since 1965.

Shackleton’s motor car

Mount Erebus

The Adélie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) is a species of penguin common along the entire Antarctic coast, which is their only residence.

Hayley Mills with John Hurt, set before the antarctic journey

“Mr Forbush and the Penguins”

The Morepork (Ninox novaeseelandiae), also called the Tasmanian spotted owl, is a small brown owl found throughout New Zealand, Tasmania, across most of mainland Australia and in Timor, southern New Guinea and nearby islands. This bird is the smallest owl in Australia and is the continent’s most widely distributed and common owl.

The bird has almost 20 alternative common names, most of which – including mopoke, morepork, ruru and boobook itself – are onomatopoeic, as they emulate the bird’s distinctive two-pitched call.

MacCormick’s Skua

sea leopard


The Count of Monte Cristo

bookshelves: re-visit-2014, re-read, revenge, epic-proportions, betrayal, published-1844, france, seven-seas, pirates-smugglers-wreckers, treasure, napoleonic, spring-2014

Read from January 01, 1986 to April 23, 2014, read count: 2


I promised myself a re-acquaintance with this epic back when I was reading The Black Count, so this re-visit comes via the 2002 film, with Jim Caviezel in the lead rôle. Look at the stats for the book:

4.13* · 409,590 ratings · 10,981 reviews

Chateau d’If

The Count of Monte Cristo – Finding The Treasure

The Count of Monte Cristo – The Ball

Magnificant film with a distorted ending. All I want to do now is re-read the book from top to toe.