Ludwig the Second King of Bavaria by Clara Tschudi

Opening: Descent and Education: At the birth of Ludwig II., enigmatic as he was unfortunate, of whom I propose to give a sketch, his grandfather, the eccentric Ludwig I., was still King of Bavaria. His father, Maximilian Joseph, was the Crown Prince. The latter had wedded, in 1842, the beautiful Princess Marie of Prussia, who was only sixteen years of age at the time of her marriage, her husband being twenty years her senior.

Lola Montez (1847), painted by Joseph Karl Stieler for Ludwig I of Bavaria and his Schönheitengalerie

Nymphenburg schloss

Schloss Hohenschwangau

Ludwig II with Richard Wagner, the composer of Lohengrin and many other romantic operas, at the piano

König Ludwig II. und Richard Wagner beim Lohengrinfest auf dem Alpsee

Austro-Prussian War 1866

A short history but all over the place timewise. I do so prefer my histories to be temporally linear in nature. But Hey Ho, I did learn some interesting ::stuff:: here, and had it underlined once more that European Royal Houses were awash in dysfunctional parenting stratagems which surely added to the chance of madness in later life.

Poor sad brothers were Otto and Ludwig.

The Leipzig Affair by Fiona Rintoul

bookshelves: published-2014, radio-4, germany, spring-2015, cold-war, communist-lit-richer, under-10-ratings

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from March 11 to 29, 2015

Description: A tale of love, betrayal and redemption in the dying days of the Cold War. Set in Germany both in the years before the fall of the Berlin Wall as well as post-unification, and encompassing the excesses of life in 1980’s Britain.

Bob McPherson is Scottish and unemployed. He lost his highly-paid job in the City because of his alcoholism. His counsellor at the Alcohol Advisory Service suggests he look back to a pivotal point in his life – Leipzig in the 1980s, when the GDR held its citizens in an iron grip.

Naive, and innocent of the machinations of the East German state, Bob embraces life as a PhD student at Leipzig University. There he falls in love with Magda Reinsch, a student with secret plans to escape to the West.

As their love affair deepens, Magda and Bob are drawn into a web of deception and betrayal. In a country where the Stasi is always watching, no-one is quite who they seem and everyone has their price.

Bob leaves the GDR thinking he is responsible for a man’s death and that he lost Magda because of it. Now, in revisiting the past, Bob may be able to uncover the truth of his Leipzig Affair.

Fiona Rintoul is a financial journalist and translator. The Leipzig Affair is her first novel, and won the 2013 Virginia prize for the best new fiction by a woman writing in English.
Readers: Douglas Henshall and Indira Varma
Abridger: Jeremy Osborne
Producer: Rosalynd Ward
A Sweet Talk production for BBC Radio 4.

1/10 Magda trains to be an interpretator, as a way to escape East Germany

Episode 2: Magda’s plan to escape to the West suffers a major setback. Meanwhile, Bob is inspired to leave his Scottish university and study in Leipzig.

Episode 3: Magda meets her boyfriend Marek and tells him the bad news about her escape plan. Bob crosses the border into East Germany and arrives in Leipzig.

Episode 4: Bob meets Magda for the first time and is smitten with her. But Magda and Marek already have plans for him that they must keep secret.

Episode 5: Bob’s dislike of Marek grows. Meanwhile, Magda and Marek make new plans for her to escape East Germany.

Episode 6: Bob uncovers more of Magda’s past but she is still keeping secrets from him and life in the GDR is getting dangerous for them all.

Episode 7: Magda and Bob are each picked up by the Stasi who seem to know everything about them. Bob makes a decision he will regret.

Episode 8: Magda’s interrogation by the Stasi continues. Back in Scotland, Bob is forced to put Leipzig behind him and move on with his life.

Episode 9: Magda’s life in East Germany changes unexpectedly. Bob is forced to confront his alcoholism and then to reassess the events in Leipzig.

Episode 10: Bob returns to Leipzig and uncovers some shocking revelations. Magda has some surprising news of her own.

The Gathering Storm by Winston S. Churchill

Description: The story of British prime minister Winston Churchill, focusing on his place in British life just prior to World War II.

Starring: Richard Burton, Virginia McKenna, Robert Hardy, Ian Bannen

Directed by: Herbert Wise

Music: ”Symphony No. 3 in C minor, ‘Organ’ Op. 78 (1990 Remastered Version): Maestoso – Allegro” av Georges Prêtre/Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire/Maurice Duruflé…

Churchill: Do you know why the british bulldog’s nose slants backwards?
Ribbentrop: No!
Churchill: So it can breathe, and not let go!

The Closers by Michael Connelly

bookshelves: spring-2015, tbr-busting-2015, cold-case, published-2005, testost-tosh

Read from March 23 to 27, 2015

Description: He walked away from the job three years ago. But Harry Bosch cannot resist the call to join the elite Open/Unsolved Unit. His mission: solve murders whose investigations were flawed, stalled, or abandoned to L.A.’s tides of crime. With some people openly rooting for his failure, Harry catches the case of a teenager dragged off to her death on Oat Mountain, and traces the DNA on the murder weapon to a small-time criminal. But something bigger and darker beckons, and Harry must battle to fit all the pieces together. Shaking cages and rattling ghosts, he will push the rules to the limit–and expose the kind of truth that shatters lives, ends careers, and keeps the dead whispering in the night…

Sometimes, a piece of testost-tosh is just what is needed to clean the palate…

4* The Black Echo
2* The Brass Verdict
CR The Closers
3* A Darkness More Than Night
2* The Overlook
1* Void Moon
3* Blood Work

A Question of Proof by Nicholas Blake

bookshelves: spring-2015, paper-read, under-500-ratings, skoolzy-stuff, published-1935, britain-england, mystery-thriller

Read from January 28 to March 27, 2015
Description: The faculty and student body at Sudeley are shocked but scarcely saddened when the headmaster’s obnoxious nephew, Algernon Wyvern-Wemyss, is found dead in a haystack on Sports Day.

But when the young English master, Michael Evans, becomes a suspect in the case, he’s greatly relieved when his clever friend Nigel Strangeways, who is beginning to make a name for himself as a private inquiry agent, shows up to lend a hand to the local constabulary.

Strangeways immediately wins over the students and even becomes an initiate in one of their secret societies, The Black Spot, whose members provide him with some of the information he needs to solve the case.

In the meantime Michael and Hero Vale, the pretty young wife of the headmaster, continue their hopeless love affair. When another murder follows, Strangeways is soon certain of the murderer’s identity, but until he can prove it, he’s reluctant to share his theory with the unimaginative but thorough Superintendent Armstrong.

Published in 1935 while he was a schoolmaster himself, this is the first detective novel by C. Day-Lewis, the noted man of letters who went on to become England’s poet laureate.

Nicholas Blake aka Cecil Day Lewis. I wanted to sample something from the man who unceremoniously dumped Rosamund Lehmann and this is what I ended up with, a somewhat run of the mill whodunnit where the reading public is introduced to a new on-paper sleuth: Nigel Strangeways. The first chapter is rather arch, couched in high-blown prose, yet it does settle down into a competent and enjoyable story. Is the Michael/Hero storyline based on events from the author’s past as some have posited?

I’d read another if it dropped in my lap.

The Inspector McLevy Mysteries: Series 7 by David Ashton

bookshelves: spring-2015, series, radio-4, play-dramatisation, britain-scotland, edinburgh, victoriana, published-2011

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from March 19 to 27, 2015

Description: New series of Victorian detective mysteries starring Brian Cox as Inspector James McLevy.

Leith Town Hall & Sheriff Court

Absolutely love these episodes, now in its seventh series. There is a grand chemistry between the radio dramatis personaes of Brash and McLevy. I do, however, urge you to read McLevy’s original writings. I think you will notice that he put away a fair few people that were suspect suspects.

Episode one: The Firebrand: McLevy investigates the kidnap of a women’s rights campaigner.

Episode Two: Dead Reckoning: Inspector McLevy investigates a curious case of grave robbing.

Episode Three: Prince of Darkness: Jean Brash is confronted by a former lover back from the dead. She had once poisoned him – fatally, or so she thought – and now he is out for revenge. Meanwhile, McLevy dreams of death by drowning. Is it a premonition or just the result of drinking too much coffee?

Episode Four: A Distant Death. McLevy’s dreams of death by drowning are about to become a reality when he and Jean Brash are trapped in a sea cave while the tide rushes in. Outside the cave a rifle marksman is ready to shoot them if they try to escape.

Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage by Kathleen Winter

bookshelves: spring-2015, published-2014, radio-4, nonfiction, autobiography-memoir

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from March 18 to 27, 2015

Description: Teresa Gallagher reads Kathleen Winter’s story of her journey as the Writer-in-Residence on a boat travelling through the Northwest Passage, and how the voyage became as much an exploration of her own roots as a venture into the arctic ice fields.

Kathleen Winter was born in Bill Quay, near Gateshead. When she was still young, the family emigrated to Newfoundland. Winter, who now lives in Montreal, was a TV scriptwriter and a newspaper columnist before turning her hand to short stories. Her first collection of stories – ‘boYs’ – was published in 2007 and her first novel ‘Annabel’ came out three years later.

‘Annabel’ was shortlisted for the three main Canadian literary prizes in 2010 – the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers’ Writers’ Trust Prize and the Governor General’s Award. This year, Boundless was shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Award for non-fiction.
Abridged by Pete Nichols
Producer: Karen Rose
A Sweet Talk production for BBC Radio 4.

Episode 1: When a man called Noah invites you on a boat trip…

Episode 2: A Viking Funeral.

Episode 3: In the Sermermuit Valley, the author is thrilled by a symphony of ice.

Episode 4: On Dundas Island, the arctic animals lay claim to their habitat.

Episode 5: As the passengers prepare for journey’s end, there is an unscheduled stop.

The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Tóibín

<- my cover

Description: It is Ireland in the early 1990s. Helen, her mother Lily, and her grandmother Dora have come together, after a decade of estrangement, to tend to Helen’s beloved brother, Declan, who is dying of AIDS. Under the crumbling roof of Dora’s old house, Declan’s two friends join the women as each waits for the end. The six of them, from different generations and with different beliefs, are forced to plumb the shoals of their own histories and to come to terms with each other. “The Blackwater Lightship” is a beautifully written, deeply resonant story about three generations of an estranged family reuniting to mourn a tragic, untimely death. In spare, luminous prose, Colm Tiibin explores the nature of love and the complex emotions inside a family at war with itself. His fourth novel is about morals and manners, and the clashes of culture and personality. But most of all, it is a novel about the incomparable capacity of stories to heal the deepest wounds.


Opening: Helen woke in the night to the sound of Manus whimpering. She lay still and listened, hoping that he would quieten and turn on his side and sleep, but when his voice became louder and more insistent and she could vaguely make out words, she got out of bed and moved towards the boys’ room; she was unsure whether he was dreaming or awake.

Instantly accessible – the minute the front page is opened I was whisked into a Dublin night (rain expected) party complete with impromptu singing and dancing after a grand chili con carne supper.

TR The Master
CR The Blackwater Lightship
4* Nora Webster
LIDA – The Testament of Mary – subject matter does not appeal