Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) by Jose Rizal , Harold Augenbraum (Translator)

Description: A passionate love story set against the ugly political backdrop of repression, torture, and murder, “The Noli,” as it is called in the Philippines, was the first major artistic manifestation of Asian resistance to European colonialism, and Rizal became a guiding conscience—and martyr—for the revolution that would subsequently rise up in the Spanish province.

Free download:…

Title taken from John 20:17

Opening: A Social Gathering: On the last of October Don Santiago de los Santos, popularly known as Capitan Tiago, gave a dinner. In spite of the fact that, contrary to his usual custom, he had made the announcement only that afternoon, it was already the sole topic of conversation in Binondo and adjacent districts, and even in the Walled City, for at that time Capitan Tiago was considered one of the most hospitable of men, and it was well known that his house, like his country, shut its doors against nothing except commerce and all new or bold ideas. Like an electric shock the announcement ran through the world of parasites, bores, and hangers-on, whom God in His infinite bounty creates and so kindly multiplies in Manila. Some looked at once for shoe-polish, others for buttons and cravats, but all were especially concerned about how to greet the master of the house in the most familiar tone, in order to create an atmosphere of ancient friendship or, if occasion should arise, to excuse a late arrival.

I have an acquaintance who says she can go for weeks in noli me tangere mode. Her conversation becomes surface and benign, platitudes reign supreme and I love her for it, she has a tough job, crowded family life and over-stretched social agenda. So when searching for an amusing visual for her birthday I was pretty well taken by surprise that this phrase formed the title of a book, and it was available as a free download.

The English title of this book is ‘The Social Cancer’ and it is over 500 pages of present tense observations, some of which made me smile:

‘One of the civilians is a very small man with a black beard, the only thing notable about him being his nose, which, to judge from its size, ought not to belong to him.’

I skim read, just hovering over passages that related to the bigger picture of those time, yet had hours of interest piqued by surfing for historical facts concerning the ousting of Spain from the Philippines.

Photo of Jose Rizals execution (1896).

Brief Lives by Philip Meeks

bookshelves: autumn-2015, published-2015, play-dramatisation, britain-england, eng-manchester, radio-4, legaleagles-or-courtcase

Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from September 18 to 26, 2015

Description: Drama: Brief Lives by Tom Fry and Sharon Kelly.
Return of the series about Frank Twist and his team of legal representatives.

Do be careful what you wish for.

1/6: A naked young woman is arrested for protesting against the fur trade, but this is just the beginning of a tortuous maze for Frank.

2/6: Frank and Sarah drive to the country to celebrate a friend’s eightieth birthday but find themselves in the centre of a family tragedy going back decades.

3/6: Frank’s mate Micky’s wife is implicated in a crime that may blow their marriage apart.

4/6: A teenager is arrested for the murder of his friend. Both are sons of police officers.

5/6: A journalist wants Frank to help him stop a massive cover-up but Frank needs persuading.

6/6: Frank’s suspicions about Ronnie’s boyfriend Nick come to a head.

Pertinent music: The Shangri-Las

Frank David Schofield
Ronnie Rachel Austin
Amanda Sophia Di Martino
Jade Kellie Shirley
Barry James Quinn
PC Hamilton Berstock

The White Road: Journey into an Obsession by Edmund de Waal

bookshelves: radio-4, published-2015, autumn-2015, art-forms, history, microhistory, nonfiction

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from September 16 to 26, 2015

Description: In The White Road, bestselling author and artist Edmund de Waal gives us an intimate narrative history of his lifelong obsession with porcelain, or “white gold.” A potter who has been working with porcelain for more than forty years, de Waal describes how he set out on five journeys to places where porcelain was dreamed about, refined, collected and coveted–and that would help him understand the clay’s mysterious allure. From his studio in London, he starts by travelling to three “white hills”–sites in China, Germany and England that are key to porcelain’s creation. But his search eventually takes him around the globe and reveals more than a history of cups and figurines; rather, he is forced to confront some of the darkest moments of twentieth-century history.
Part memoir, part history, part detective story, The White Road chronicles a global obsession with alchemy, art, wealth, craft and purity. In a sweeping yet intimate style that recalls The Hare with Amber Eyes, de Waal gives us a singular understanding of “the spectrum of porcelain” and the mapping of desire.

1/5: Mount Kao-ling

2/5: Dresden and Tschirnhaus

3/5: Meissen and Bottger

4/5: Tregonning Hill

5/5: Allach

3* The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family’s Century of Art and Loss
4* The White Road: Journey into an Obsession

Their Fathers’ God by O.E. Rølvaag, Trygve M. Ager (Translator)

Translated by Trygve M Ager. Biro inscription inside cover: ‘Christmas 1991, from Bev’

Description: Susie Doheny, an Irish Catholic, and Peder Holm, a Norwegian Lutheran, fall in love and marry in South Dakota in the 1890s. Soon their marriage is tested by drought, depression, and family bickering. Susie believes they are being tested by their fathers’ God.Peder blames Susie for the timidity of her beliefs; Susie fears Peder’s pride and skepticism. When political antagonism grows between the Norwegian and Irish immigrant communities, it threatens to split their marriage.

Against a backdrop of hard times, crisscrossed by Populists, antimonopolists, and schemers, Rölvaag brings the struggle of immigrants into the twentieth century. In Giants in the Earth the Holm family strained to wrest a homestead from the land. In Peder Victorious the American-born children searched for a new national identity, often defying the traditions their parents fought to uphold. In Their Fathers’ God, Rölvaag’s most soul-searching novel, the first-generation americans enter a world of ruthless competition in the midst of scarcity.

Opening: 1: “A Cloud Like A Man’s Hand”: No hope for rain tonight either. Oh, no, it took pains to stay away, wherever it was.

Only now I notice – this is the final book in a trilogy. Nevermind, I shall get a good enough sample of Rølvaag’s writing to see if he is worth looking into further.

  Fifty miles from water
One hundred miles from wood
To hell with South Dakota
We're leaving you for good

Mainly, I wanted to see how this Norwegian experience compares to The Emigrants, four books on the Swedish migration to the New World.

Relentless side taking, factions and cliques in first generation hardscrabble lives. Epic sweeping family saga that is nicely written.

It was amusing to read this whilst also encountering Wexford’s The Babes in the Wood, how I would have loved to tip some of the floods from latter into former!

The Madman of Bergerac (Maigret #16)

bookshelves: autumn-2015, published-1932, series, tbr-busting-2015, translation, france

Read on September 26, 2015

Dramatisation with Denholm Elliott

WL The Man Who Watched Trains Go By
3* Maigret in Society
3* The Blue Room
WL My Friend Maigret (Maigret #31)
3* The Saint-Fiacre Affair
3* Maigret in Montmartre
3* Maigret Has Scruples
3* Maigret Bides His Time
3* Striptease
3* Maigret Sets A Trap
3* Maigret and the Minister
3* The Madman of Bergerac

The Babes in the Wood by Ruth Rendell

Read by……………… Nigel Anthony
Total Runtime……… 12 Hours 10 Mins

Description: With floods threatening both the town of Kingsmarkham and his own home and no end to the rain in sight, Chief Inspector Wexford already has his hands full when he learns that two local teenagers have gone missing along with their sitter, Joanna Troy. Their hysterical mother is convinced that all three have drowned, and as the hours stretch into days Wexford suspects a case of kidnapping, perhaps connected with an unusual sect called the Church of the Good Gospel. But when the sitter’s smashed-up car is found at the bottom of a local quarry–occupied by a battered corpse–the investigation takes on a very different hue.

3* From Doon With Death (Inspector Wexford, #1)
3* A New Lease of Death (Inspector Wexford, #2)
3* Wolf to the Slaughter (Inspector Wexford, #3)
2* The Best Man to Die (Inspector Wexford, #4)
3* A Guilty Thing Suprised #5
3* No More Dying Then (Inspector Wexford, #6)
3* Murder Being Once Done (Inspector Wexford, #7)
3* Some Lie and Some Die (Inspector Wexford, #8)
3* Shake Hands Forever (Inspector Wexford, #9)
3* A Sleeping Life (Inspector Wexford, #10)
3* Put on by Cunning (Inspector Wexford #11)
1* Speaker of Mandarin (Inspector Wexford, #12)
3* An Unkindness of Ravens (Inspector Wexford, #13)
3* The Veiled One (Inspector Wexford, #14)
3* Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter (Inspector Wexford, #15)
3* Road Rage (Inspector Wexford, #17)
3* Harm Done (Inspector Wexford, #18)
3* The Babes in the Wood (Inspector Wexford, #19)

3* Not in the Flesh (Inspector Wexford, #21)
2* The Vault (Inspector Wexford, #23)

This New Noise: The Extraordinary Birth and Troubled Life of the BBC by Charlotte Higgins

bookshelves: autumn-2015, nonfiction, published-2015, dip-in-now-and-again, cult-yah, history, microhistory, e-book, upbeat

Read from September 01 to 26, 2015
Description: ‘The BBC, to my mind at least, is the most powerful British institution of them all, for, as well as informing, educating and entertaining, it permeates and reflects our existences, infiltrates our imaginations, forms us in myriad ways.’ Charlotte Higgins, the Guardian’s chief culture writer, steps behind the polished doors of Broadcasting House and investigates the BBC. Based on her hugely popular essay series, this personal journey answers the questions that rage around this vulnerable, maddening and uniquely British institution. Questions such as, what does the BBC mean to us now? What are the threats to its continued existence? Is it worth fighting for? Higgins traces its origins, celebrating the early pioneering spirit and unearthing forgotten characters whose imprint can still be seen on the BBC today. She explores how it forged ideas of Britishness both at home and abroad. She shows how controversy is in its DNA and brings us right up to date through interviews with grandees and loyalists, embattled press officers and high profile dissenters, and she sheds new light on recent feuds and scandals. This is a deeply researched, lyrically written, intriguing portrait of an institution at the heart of Britain.

Opening: Reith of the BBC: The manse on Lynedoch Street, Glasgow, is a handsome double-fronted house with nine steps up to its front door. It clings to the flank of its sandstone church, whose brace of tall, pencil-straight towers are linked by an elegant classical pediment.

John Reith: 1st Baron Reith, KT, GCVO, GBE, CB, TD, PC (20 July 1889 – 16 June 1971)

The Past Is A Foreign Country


Description: Giorgio, a 22-year-old trainee lawyer, becomes the pupil of Francesco, who exerts a strange fascination over men & women alike, & he teaches Giorgio how to cheat at cards. Their gambling exploits take them from luxurious villas to low dives, their victims ranging from rich industrialists to human flotsam.

Opening: SHE’S ALONE, LEANING on the bar, drinking fruit juice. There’s a black leather bag on the floor by her feet, and for some reason that’s the thing that really draws my attention.

Withdrawn from East Riding of Yorkshire LIS. The story is set in Bari, which is halfway twixt boot heel and spur on the east coast.

P.81: Leonard Cohen – Marianne

P.113 Magritte’s Empire of Lights

A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel

bookshelves: radio-4, autumn-2015, historical-fiction, revolution, france, published-1992, play-dramatisation

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from August 31 to September 23, 2015

Description: Hilary Mantel’s gripping account of the cataclysmic events of the French Revolution seen through the eyes of three of its most important figures, Georges Danton, Camille Desmoulins and Maximilien Robespierre.

French Revolution Timeline




Excellent dramatisation, Melissa Murray.
Thanks you R4.

Camille: Carl Prekopp
Danton: Mark Stobbart
Robespierre: Sam Troughton
Narrator Lizzy Watts
Narrator Paul Ritter
Lucile Chloe Pirrie
Gabrielle Sarah Thom
Mirabeau Sam Dale
Adele Alex Tregear
Annette Jessica Turner
Herault Stephen Critchlow
Brissot David Hounslow
Nobleman Chris Pavlo

Directed by Marc Beeby.

4* A Place of Greater Safety
4* Wolf Hall
4* Bring up the Bodies
WL The Mirror and the Light
1* Beyond Black
2* The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

Eurydice and Orpheus. Her story by Simon Armitage

bookshelves: autumn-2015, radio-4, play-dramatisation, mythology, music, gardening, published-2015, recreational-drugs

Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from September 18 to 23, 2015

Description: Sanna is a lab technician in a seed vault at a university. She stores and tends to seeds from flowers and trees from all over the world . She mostly loves the flowers …Coltsfoot, Early Star of Bethlehem, Lady’s Bedstraw, Farewell to Spring, Eyebright, Forget-me-not …

She’s had her eye on a busking musician she passes on her way home from work in the subway . One evening, on a whim, she stops to talk . They quickly become close and fall in love. Sanna persuades Zak to turn his back on a life of drugs and crime. Having survived withdrawal, this gifted musician picks up a harp and discovers that he has an overwhelming natural talent, one that will have a deep, irreversible effect on both their lives.

Opening quote is from Ovid. Opening busking is Zak playing Ziggy Huzzah!

Neil Gaiman explores the intricacies of the Orpheus myth, the timeless story of art’s place in trying to recover the dead.

Sanna Claire Price
Zak Bryan Dick
Richard Jonathan Keeble
Announcer Jonathan Keeble
Gill Alexandra Mathie
Woman Alexandra Mathie
Doctor Stephen Fletcher
DJ Stephen Fletcher