Death and the Chapman by Kate Sedley

Description: In fifteenth-century England, a nineteen-year-old itinerant peddler named Roger the Chapman investigates the disappearance of an alderman’s son and embarks on an adventure that takes him from country roads to grand mansions.

Opening: In this year of our Lord 1522 I am an old man. I’ve lived through the reigns of five kings; six, if you count young Edward. By my reckoning, I’m three score years and ten, the age, so the Bible tells us, which is man’s allotted span on earth, and when my time comes, I shan’t be sorry to go.

Written with a lot of love for her subject, Sedley’s enthusiasm cannot help but make that a two-way thing. Bring on the next.

The Wyvern Mystery (Pocket Classics) by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

bookshelves: film-only, gothic, boo-scary, published-1869, classic, halloween-2015, autumn-2015, under-500-ratings, victorian

Recommended for: Laura, Wanda et al
Read on October 25, 2015…

Naomi Watts, Derek Jacobi, Iain Glen, Jack Davenport

Description: The Wyvern Mystery combines all the elements of nail-biting horror, romantic fairy tale, psychological thriller and rich period drama to create a compelling story. When young Alice Maybell is orphaned she is taken in by Squire Fairfield, a widower with two dashing sons, Charles and Harry. As Alice blossoms into a beautiful young woman she attracts the attentions of not one but two of the men she lives with. The blissful happiness that ensues, however, is short-lived as she finds herself embroiled in the dark secrets of the Fairfield family’s past and the evil ambitions of its present.In a world that is nightmarish and malevolent, nothing and no one is quite what they seem. What is the dark secret in Charles Fairfield’s past? Who – or what – is the malignant presence that haunts Carwell Grange?

Bugger me backwards in an old tin can if this is not almost Jane Eyre revisited!

Jane Eyre 1847
The Wyvern Mystery 1869

Either way, this was a hot damn great dramatisati

The Pitfall by Jay J. Dratler

bookshelves: film-only, autumn-2015, north-americas, midlife-crisis, noir, mystery-thriller, tricksy, published-1941, under-10-ratings

Recommended for: Laura, Wanda et al
Read from April 13 to October 25, 2015

Description: John Forbes is a family man who’s tired of the 9 to 5 humdrum of his job an insurance company executive. Life gets a little more exciting for him when he calls upon femme fatale Mona Stevens. Her boyfriend has embezzled from a store insured by Forbes’ company and has showered her with gifts using the loot. Forbes comes to collect the ill-gotten gifts, but the boyfriend is in jail, and Forbes falls hard for Mona and begins an affair. The only problem is that MacDonald, a private dick who freelances for the insurance company, has had his eyes on Mona first. The obsessed MacDonald turns the soon-to-be-released boyfriend against Forbes. – Written by Martin Lewison…

Early One Morning by Virginia Baily

bookshelves: autumn-2015, play-dramatisation, published-2015, radio-4, italy, wwii, italy-rome, wales-cardiff, britain-wales, kleptomania, recreational-drugs, hype-tinted-glasses

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from October 14 to 24, 2015

Description: Italy 1943. Chiara flees Rome for the countryside with her sister, Cecilia and Daniele, the small Jewish boy she has saved from the Nazis’ clearance of the Rome ghetto.

Thirty years later, in 1973, Chiara has lost touch with her troubled, junkie adoptive son, but she must now decide how to deal with the young Welsh teenager who keep phoning her and who claims to be Daniele’s daughter.

Greta Scacchi, Juliet Aubrey and Sophie Melville star in a dramatization of Virginia Baily’s new novel, which moves between Nazi-occupied Rome and 1973.

1/10: Rome 1943. A split-second decision is about to change Chiara’s life forever.

2/10: Rome 1943: Chiara has to flee Rome with the Jewish boy she is sheltering.

3/10: Chiara leaves Rome for the countryside with her charge, Daniele.

4/10: Chiara has to learn how to be a mother

5/10: Chiara prepares to host Welsh teenager who claims to be Daniele’s daughter.

6/10: Italy 1943. Chiara and Cecilia are living with their grandmother in a remote farmhouse, where they shelter passing deserters and Daniele, the small Jewish boy Chiara saved from the Nazis.

7/10: Italy 1943. A Nazi officer officer arrives at the remote farmhouse where Chiara is hiding her young Jewish charge, Daniele. Thirty years later, in Rome 1973, Chiara is showing Welsh teenager, Maria, around Rome. Maria believes that Chiara is Daniele’s former landlady and knows nothing about Daniele’s past, or that Chiara has not seen her troubled adoptive son in over a decade.

8/10: Italy 1944. Chiara and her young Jewish charge, Daniele, are back in Rome, where food supplies are scarce. Thirty years later, in 1973, Chiara struggles to know what to say to Daniele’s daughter, a Welsh teenager called Maria, who is staying with her over the summer. Maria knows nothing of Daniele’s past, nor that Chiara has not been in touch with her troubled, adoptive son in over a decade.

9/10: 1944. As American soldiers parade through Rome, Chiara receives some devastating news. 1973. Chiara confides in her oldest friend about her dilemma over Daniele’s teenage daughter, Maria, who doesn’t yet know anything about her father’s past.

10/10: Rome 1973. With Simone’s encouragement, Chiara determines to tell Maria the truth about Daniele and confront her own past.

Somewhat disjointed and messy in execution.

The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle

Penguin(UK) Viking

Description: This is a life told back to front.

This is a man who has lied all his life.

Roy is a conman living in a small English town, about to pull off his final con. He is going to meet and woo a beautiful woman and slip away with her life savings. But who is the man behind the con?

What has he had to do to survive a life of lies?

And who has had to pay the price?

Opening: It is, Roy thinks, perfect. Kismet, serendipity, destiny, happenstance; call it what you will. All of these things rolled into one.

John Graham, 1st Viscount of Dundee (1648-1689)

Scott’s Poem
The Corries sing it

Charlottenburg, nr Berlin

Given that this book is not due to be published until January 2016, I feel it premature to dissect the story line, however, does anyone here remember Juke Box Jury? I predict this book will be a HIT on the high street, yet a certain issue will give rise to heated debate, and it is that issue that keeps this under the 4* threshold for me.

I do look forward to reading everyone’s review next year.

Entanglement (Teodor Szacki #1) by Zygmunt Miłoszewski

bookshelves: autumn-2015, poland, published-2007, translation, play-dramatisation, mystery-thriller

Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Isca Silurum
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from October 11 to 23, 2015

Description: Radio 4 continues its journey across Europe exploring the best contemporary literature. In this hugely successful Polish crime thriller, a long suffering State Prosecutor finds himself trapped in a post-Communist limbo land of half-truths and secrets. Will he prove himself to be a redoubtable seeker of the truth or will he compromise? A perplexing murder reveals tantalising glimpses of links to the old regime.

The writer Zygmunt Miloszewski is a leading Polish writer. The Teodor Szacki series is a best seller in Poland. Antonia Lloyd Jones is an award winning translator of Polish fiction and chair of the Translators Association. Dramatised for radio by the writer, critic and journalist, Mark Lawson.

About Reading Europe: Europe is central to our lives – we go on holiday to Europe, we do business in Europe, we watch in amazement as the various states try to grapple with migration in Europe. Over the next year or so we will be engaged in the debate as to whether or not we stay in Europe. But how much do we know this continent’s countries and, in particular, how much do we know about what they’re reading?

Over the course of two years, Reading Europe will travel from Calais to Istanbul. Through dramatisations, readings and essays, Reading Europe and Front Row will explore what Europe is writing, publishing and reading – and why.

Teodor Szacki…………….Bryan Dick
Olga Kuzniecow………….Christine Bottomley
Cezary Rudzki…………….David Crellin
Monika Grzelka/
Hanna Kwiatowska……..Rachel Austin
Barbara Jarczyk/
radio news reader………Alexandra Mathie
Euzebius Kaim……………Dermot Daly
Henryk Telak/
Father Pazcek……………Glenn Cunningham

Part 1/2: The Reflection Room: When Henryk Telak is found dead with a meat skewer in his eye during a Family Constellation Therapy weekend, State Prosecutor Szacki and his police colleague Olga, Kuzniecow, have to work together to deduce who killed the man and why. An apparent total absence of motive is compounded when attractive young news reporter Monika Grezlka, shows a more than professional interest in Szacki.

Dear Illusion by Kingsley Amis

bookshelves: autumn-2015, play-dramatisation, published-1962, radio-4x, lit-crit

Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read on October 23, 2015

Description: EA Potter is thought to be a great poet, but what does he feel about himself?

Starring Freddie Jones as EA Potter, Carolyn Pickles as Sue MacNamara and Shaun Prendergast as Pat Bowes.

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

Description: Niamh Cusack reads Colm Toibin’s story of duty, love and a girl who moved from the south of Ireland to seek a new life in New York in the 1950s.

The novel opens in the small town of Enniscorthy in the south east of Ireland in the early 1950s. Eilis Lacey is one among many of her generation who can find no work. Her three brothers have already left to seek their fortunes in England; she, her sister Rose and her widowed mother are all that remain at home.

Enniscorthy Castle

1/10: An Unlooked-for Offer: When a priest comes home from America for a holiday, he recognises both Eilis’ plight and her potential.

2/10: Farewell and Adieu: Prompted by Father Flood, home from America for a holiday, Rose sets about organising her younger sister. Almost before she knows it, or has had time to say goodbye, Eilis is crossing the Atlantic, heading for a job on the shop floor of a Brooklyn department store, lodgings with an Irish landlady and a brand new life.

3/10: Letters From Home: Eilis has lodgings with an Irish landlady and a job on the shop floor of a department store. Every day a whole world of things are new, but letters from home remind her of just what she is missing.

4/10: Christmas Comfort: Christmas looms, as Eilis struggles to adapt to her new life in a city far from home. But she is not the only member of the Irish diaspora feeling homesick – helping Father Flood tend to his flock brings comfort and cheer.

5/10: The Melting Pot: As Bartocci’s opens its doors to all customers, whatever their colour, Eilis fights the prejudice of her fellow lodgers. Even at Father Flood’s Irish dance night, not everyone is Irish.

6/10: Meeting the Family: As Eilis’ romance with Tony Fiorello blossoms, life in Brooklyn takes on a new rhythm and it is time for Eilis to experience her first Italian meal.

7/10: Coney Island: Tony takes Eilis for a trip to Coney Island to celebrate her exam success. But Eilis’ new found happiness is short-lived, as news from home turns her American life sour.

8/10: Too Far From Home: Eilis’ happiness in Brooklyn has been shattered by the news of her beloved sister’s death and Tony is the only one who can offer her comfort.

9/10: Being Rose’s Ghost: Following her sister’s death, Eilis returns to her lonely mother in Enniscorthy for a month’s visit. Once there it is hard to tell the truth about her last action in America, and harder still to resist the lure of the familiar.

10/10: Torn In Two: Home for a holiday and to comfort her grieving mother, Eilis has been unable to resist the lure of the familiar. Meanwhile, Tony waits for her in Brooklyn.

3* Brooklyn
3* The Blackwater Lightship
3* The Master
4* Nora Webster

Brodeck’s Report by Philippe Claudel

Description: Forced into a brutal concentration camp during a great war, Brodeck returns to his village at the war’s end and takes up his old job of writing reports for a governmental bureau. One day a stranger comes to live in the village. His odd manner and habits arouse suspicions: His speech is formal, he takes long, solitary walks, and although he is unfailingly friendly and polite, he reveals nothing about himself. When the stranger produces drawings of the village and its inhabitants that are both unflattering and insightful, the villagers murder him. The authorities who witnessed the killing tell Brodeck to write a report that is essentially a whitewash of the incident.
As Brodeck writes the official account, he sets down his version of the truth in a separate, parallel narrative. In measured, evocative prose, he weaves into the story of the stranger his own painful history and the dark secrets the villagers have fiercely kept hidden.
Set in an unnamed time and place, Brodeck blends the familiar and unfamiliar, myth and history into a work of extraordinary power and resonance.

Opening: My name is Brodeck and I had nothing to do with it.

I insist on that. I want everyone to know.

I had no part in it, and once I learned what happened, I would have preferred never to have spoken of it again, I would have liked to bind my memory fast and keep it that way, as subdued and still as a weasel in an iron trap.

A parable of the illusionary rex flammae papillon.

4* Brodeck’s Report
4* Grey Souls

Affairs of Death by Kingsley Amis

bookshelves: published-1987, willsphernalia, amusing, autumn-2015, radio-4x, historical-masturbation

Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read on October 23, 2015…

Description: Pope Leo’s had something on his conscience for 900 years – the confessions of a Scottish King: King Macbeth.

Stars Peter Jeffrey as Pope Leo IX, Ken Stott as Macbeth, Olivier Pierre as Hildebrand and Kim Wall as Desiderius.