The African Queen by C.S. Forester

bookshelves: winter-20142015, published-1935, re-visit-2015, radio-4

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from January 01, 1968 to February 26, 2015

BBC description: Samantha Bond and Toby Jones star in a new dramatisation of C.S. Forester’s classic World War 1 novel.

Set in 1915, Rose Sayer’s work as a missionary comes to an abrupt end when the village she and her brother, Reverend Samuel Sayer, live in is invaded by the German army. Samuel dies of fever and Rose blames the ungodly Germans for having ground him down and frightened off the entire village.

Patriotically, but naively, Rose conceives of blowing up a German warship thus helping the war effort. She convinces cowardly Cockney Charlie Allnut to lend his rickety steam-powered boat, The African Queen, for the cause. He has offered to give Rose a lift in his boat to get away from the village and the Germans, so reluctantly goes along with her plan. If they manage to survive German attacks, rapids, malaria and mechanical mishaps will they be able to survive each other?

The novel, The African Queen by C.S. Forester, was of course the basis for the highly popular Hollywood movie of the same name. Paul Mendelson’s dramatisation goes back to the novel re-instating Forester’s original ending and giving Charlie his Cockney identity back!

I read this so many, many years ago, and now it come to the radio. Why not jump aboard! Also remember a film, that again must have been eons past because it was on our black and white TV. Hear the youngsters gasp at the concept of black and white TVs LOL


The Saint Overboard by Leslie Charteris

bookshelves: winter-20142015, a-questing-we-shall-go, radio-4x, series, published-1935, arch, under-500-ratings

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from February 18 to 26, 2015

Description: Murder and Mystery Ride the High Seas With The Saint and:

A BEAUTIFUL BLONDE IN A BATHING SUIT who climbs on board his boat one night — under a hail of bullets!

A MILLIONAIRE PIRATE whose fortune had been made looting sunken treasure ships — operating under the noses of the salvage companies.

PLUS A strange invention which leads the Saint to a death-struggle at the bottom of the English Channel — with a fortune in gold bullion awaiting the winner!

BBC synopsis: The haloed adventurer goes to sea in search of deliberately sunk bullion ships. Stars Paul Rhys and Geoffrey Whitehead.

The Saint Closes the Case (The Saint Series) by Leslie Charteris

bookshelves: winter-20142015, arch, published-1930, radio-4x, sciences, series, under-500-ratings, suicide

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from February 18 to 26, 2015

Description: When Simon and Patricia stumble upon a government scientist testing a weapon of mass destruction, the Saint decides to put a stop to it. But when the Saint’s arch-nemesis Rayt Marius turns up, the Saint’s plans go astray, leading one of his friends to make the ultimate sacrifice.

BBC synopsis: Simon Templar tackles arch-villain Dr Rayt Marius in a deadly struggle to save the world from an evil weapon. Stars Paul Rhys.

The one with the death of a goat!

In Certain Circles by Elizabeth Harrower

bookshelves: winter-20142015, radio-4, published-2014, newtome-author, sydney, australia

Read from February 13 to 26, 2015

Description: Internationally acclaimed Australian author Elizabeth Harrower’s novel was written in 1971 and is published for the first time now.

This tale of love, class and freedom, set set among the grand houses and lush gardens of Sydney Harbour just after WWII, follows the lives of Zoe and Russell Howard. Charismatic and confident, the children of affluent and loving parents, they welcome into their circle, Stephen and Anna, two orphans, whose lives until now have been very different from those of the Howards. But despite this, these four will spend the rest of their lives moving in and out of each other’s shadows.

‘Harrower evokes the waste and futility of a decadent class with all the bite and poignancy of F Scott Fitzgerald,’ Eimear McBride, New Statesman

Author: Elizabeth Harrower is regarded as one of Australia’s most important postwar writers, and is enjoying a recent literary revival. Born in Sydney in 1928, her first novel, Down in the City, was published in 1957 and was followed by The Long Prospect (1958) and The Catherine Wheel (1960). Her most well-known work, The Watch Tower, was published in 1966 to huge acclaim. Four years later she finished In Certain Circles , but withdrew it before publication for reasons she has never publicly spoken of. The manuscript was rediscovered recently by her publisher who felt it should be published immediately. Harrower has since received rave reviews, including comparisons with Emile Zola and F Scott Fitzgerald.
Reader: Penny Downie

1/10 ‘You only think of orphans in fairytales’: over a tennis match, the two orphans, Anna and Stephen, are welcomed into the rarified world of the Howard family.

2/10 ‘Just don’t develop a social conscience now’: Zoe struggles with her emotions when she discovers that Stephen is leaving.

3/10 ‘This is not my life’: Anna strikes out on her own, and finds a new life.

4/10 ‘He’s not easy’: after the death of her beloved mother, Zoe makes an unexpected choice.

5/10 ‘I’m marvellously happy’: the unlikely marriage between Zoe and Stephen continues to raise eyebrows.

6/10: ‘It was enough that he existed’: the bleakness of unrequited and of married love.

7/10 ‘No-one knows me’: while Anna remains defiantly single, Zoe regrets her own defiance in marrying Stephen.

8/10 ‘It harmed him’: Zoe realises that not everyone can bear to be loved.

9/10 ‘Something’s happened to Anna’: the devastating fallout from the arrival of an unexpected letter.

10/10 ‘You must solve yourself’: endings and new beginnings, as Anna and Zoe realise what love is.

The Saint plays with fire by Leslie Charteris

bookshelves: winter-20142015, published-1938, play-dramatisation, series, fascism, mystery-thriller, conflagration, radio-4x, arch

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from February 18 to 26, 2015

Story description: A peaceful moonlight drive in the English countryside is interrupted when Simon Templar and Patricia Holm listen to a disturbing radio broadcast from France by a would-be dictator who plans to make France the latest in a growing number of European dictatorships under a ruling party called the Sons of France. This broadcast disturbs Patricia, and Templar makes a dire (and, as events were to unfold in real life in the next few years, accurate) prediction that the future of Europe will be one of invasions and concentration camps.

The two adventurers are interrupted in their worries when they spot a house on fire in the distance. Rushing to help, Templar enters the burning building but is unable to rescue a man trapped inside. Later, he and Patricia learn that one of the occupants of the house is a known war profiteer who is expected to make millions off both sides should a new European war erupt.

BBC synopsis: Simon Templar uncovers a fascist conspiracy to seize power in France. Stars Paul Rhys, Kim Thomson and Fiona Fullerton.

My, what a camp matchstick saint! Arch fun!

Theme tune

Peter the Great: His Life and World by Robert K. Massie

Description: Against the monumental canvas of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe and Russia, unfolds the magnificent story of Peter the Great, crowned at the age of 10. A barbarous, volatile feudal tsar with a taste for torture; a progressive and enlightened reformer of government and science; a statesman of vision and colossal significance: Peter the Great embodied the greatest strengths and weaknesses of Russia while being at the very forefront of her development.

Robert K. Massie delves deep into the life of this captivating historical figure, chronicling the pivotal events that shaped a boy into a legend – including his ‘incognito’ travels in Europe, his unquenchable curiosity about Western ways, his obsession with the sea and establishment of the stupendous Russian navy, his creation of an unbeatable army, and his relationships with those he loved most: Catherine, his loving mistress, wife, and successor; and Menshikov, the charming, unscrupulous prince who rose to power through Peter’s friendship. Impetuous and stubborn, generous and cruel, a man of enormous energy and complexity, Peter the Great is brought fully to life…

Read this eons ago; this was the bio that turned me on and tuned me in to Massie in particular and Russian history in general. I loved it so much I went to Petersburg to stand in the wooden hut by the Neva just to see how the man lived as an ordinary family man with his beloved Catherine.


Poltava – It is widely believed to have been the beginning of Sweden’s decline as a Great Power, as the tsardom of Russia took its place as the leading nation of north-eastern Europe. The battle also bears major importance in Ukrainian national history: as hetman Ivan Mazepa sided with the Swedes, seeking to create an uprising in Ukraine against the tsardom.(wiki sourced)

5* Peter the Great
5* Catherine the Great
5* Nicholas and Alexandra

Athens: A Portrait of the City in its Golden Age by Christian Meier

Description: The definitive account of Athens in the age of Pericles, Christian Meier’s gripping study begins with the Greek triumph over Persia at the Battle of Salamis, one of the most significant military victories in history. Meier shows how that victory decisively established Athens’s military dominance in the Mediterranean and made possible its rise to preeminence in almost every field of human commerce, science, philosophy, art, architecture, and literature. Within seventy-five years, Athens had become the most original and innovative civilization the ancient world ever produced.

With elegant narrative style, Meier traces the birth of democracy and the flourishing of Greek culture in the fifth century B.C., as well as Athens’ slow decline and defeat in the Peloponnesian War. The great figures from politicians and generals like Themistocles and Alcibiades to the philosophers Socrates and Plato emerge as flesh-and-blood human beings, firmly rooted in their times and places. This is history in the tradition of Simon Schama and Barbara Tuchman: learned, accessible, and beautifully written.

I remember buying this in that cheap shop in John Frost Square just before meeting dear M and flitting away to Sweden. It must have been stored in mater’s garage as there is some water marking at the top but entirely readable.

Translated from the French by Robert and Rita Kimber.

Opening: The Needle’s Eye at Salamis: A Region Ventures into World Politics: In the late summer of 480BC, most likely towards the end of September, a dramatic, heartrending scene played out on the coast of Attica.

This book starts with its finish i.e. The Battle of Salamis, throws up some questions and then goes back to lead you through the centuries to give a build up to the battle. Pisistrates the tyrant (son of Hippocrates) was, well, rather like his name wasn’t he.