On Silbury Hill by Adam Thorpe

bookshelves: summer-2014, published-2014, nonfiction, ancient-history, britain-england, wiltshire, archaeology, autobiography-memoir, bullies

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from August 16 to 22, 2014

 

BOTW

Description: Silbury Hill in Wiltshire – together with Stonehenge, Avebury and the remains of numerous barrows – forms part of a Neolithic landscape about which very little is known or understood.

Adam Thorpe describes his book as ‘”a marble cake of different soils. Memoir, data, theory, streaks of poetry, swirls of fiction” – but he is not alone in having been drawn to explore the meaning of the largest prehistoric mound in Europe. Artists and archaeologists as well as various cults and neo-pagan traditions have focussed on the blank canvas that the hill presents as a way of exploring our complicated relationship with the past and the people who lived there.

“An estimated million hours spent on construction rather than herding or cooking or stitching must have had a point, but we don’t get it. Is conjecture a species of fiction? To muddy the difference further, Silbury insisted on being called ‘she’. I obeyed, not out of New Age winsomeness but from the influence of country dialect, in which neuter pronouns are as alien as robot leaf blowers.”

This chalkland memoir told in fragments and snapshots, takes a circular route around the hill, a monument which we can no longer climb, and celebrates the urge to stand and wonder.Abridged, directed and produced by Jill Waters. A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.

Episode 1: The base of Silbury Hill covers five acres of Wiltshire turf which have not seen sunlight for 4,300 years. Adam Thorpe has known her since he was 13yrs old.

Episode 2: A target of bullying, the author was grateful for the soothing mysteries of the landscape.

Episode 3: What can archaeology really tell us? Face-to-face with Neolithic man.

Episode 4: The author meets a pair of enthusiastic Wiccan drummers.

Episode 5: All Hallow’s Eve 2013 – Silbury and the stone circle at Avebury, shadows and rituals.


YES! This is the sort of offering I like to see as a book of the week, however I prefer less whimsy, reminiscing and affectation mixed in with my non-fic.

Please note, the hill is not open to the public nowadays.

Three crop circles, just.

The Merchant’s House (Wesley Peterson, #1) by Kate Ellis

 

Read by Graham Roberts. 9 hours 15 mins

Synopsis: A black policeman from the Met might expect to meet some resistance, when he’s transferred to a West Country seaside town. But, for Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson, it’s like coming home. Not only was he at university in the area, one of the first people he bumps into is an old friend. Neil is now heading an archaeological dig at a Tudor merchant’s house, and Wes has to tear himself away to meet the rest of his new team. It’s all friendly faces here too – except one. But DC Steve Carstairs has “pillock” written all over him; there’ll be no problem dealing with him. And, there’s no time for trouble to brew, as Wes is immediately involved in a major search for a missing child. The tension is mounting when a body is found – but to Wes’s relief it’s turned up at the dig, and is over four hundred years old. It seems to be a tragic murder nonetheless, for the bones turn out to be of a strangled young woman and a newborn baby. But, until little Jonathan Berrisford is found, Wes has no time for distractions. But as another, more recent body is found, and the circumstances surrounding the Berrisford child’s disappearance become more complex, Wes is more and more convinced that the age-old motives of jealousy, sexual obsession and desperate longing for a child are behind the crimes, ancient and modern, that he must solve soon if further tragedy is to be averted. One thing is for sure – The Met is beginning to look like a rest cure in comparison with sleepy old Devon…

 photo cal.gifPedestrian 2.5* NEXT!

2.5* – The Merchant’s House (Wesley Peterson, #1)
2* – The Shining Skull (Wesley Peterson, #11)

Sea Room by Adam Nicolson

bookshelves: published-2001, britain-scotland, nonfiction, one-penny-wonder, autumn-2010, ancient-history, archaeology, vikings, sciences

Read from October 19 to 20, 2010

 

** spoiler alert ** A keeper for sure; one never knows when one can break out the Nordic war-boat and head out to investigate the islands. A meandering description with black and white photos dotted throughout, also a few diagrams and maps.

About the author (wiki-sourced) – Adam Nicolson is the son of writer Nigel Nicolson and grandson of the writers Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicolson. He was educated at Eton College and Magdalene College, Cambridge and has worked as a journalist and columnist on the Sunday Times, the Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Telegraph. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Nicolson was married to Olivia Fane from 1982 to 1992. They had three sons.[1] Since 1992 Nicolson has been married to Sarah Raven. He and his wife have two daughters and live at Perch Hill Farm[2] in Sussex and at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent.

First sentence – For the Last twenty years I have owned some islands

Grandmother(Vita Sackville-West) died and left father some money and an advert had been seen in the Daily Telegraph. Some previous owners were Compton Mackenzie, Lord Leverhulme and more recently, a racehorse breeder. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this was not a good place to rear Derby winners

A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths

bookshelves: published-2013, series, spring-2014, tbr-busting-2014, conflagration, fraudio, archaeology, britain-england, norfolk, lancashire, library-in-norway, cults-societies-brotherhoods, historical-fiction, lifestyles-deathstyles, mythology, anti-semitic

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Series recommended initially by Carey
Read from March 22 to April 17, 2014

 

Narrated by Clare Corbett

Description: Ruth Galloway is shocked when she learns that her old university friend Dan Golding has died tragically in a house fire. But the death takes on a sinister cast when Ruth receives a letter from Dan written just before he died. The letter tells of a great archaeological discovery, but Dan also says that he is scared for his life. Was Dan’ s death linked to his find? The only clue is his mention of the Raven King, an ancient name for King Arthur. Then Ruth is invited to examine the bones Dan found. Ruth travels to Lancashire- the hometown of DCI Nelson- with both her eighteen-month-old daughter, Kate, and her druid friend, Cathbad, in tow. She discovers a campus living in fear of a sinister right-wing group called the White Hand. She also finds that the bones revealed a shocking fact about King Arthur- and they’ ve mysteriously vanished. When Nelson, visiting his mother in Blackpool, learns about the case, he is drawn into the investigation, especially when Ruth and his beloved Kate seem to be in danger. Who is willing to kill to keep the bones a secret?

The Raven King by Christian Schloe

Enjoyable enough as a gothic-cosy; all the cast are here in their individual, quirky glory yet somehow I feel a disinterest settling in when contemplating continuing this series. This happens with series doesn’t it, when the point of elegant sufficiency is reached.

the skeleton dance 1929

Pendle Hill

This image is traditionally associated with the Witches of Pendle Forest and their Trial.

The Pendle Witch Trials 1612 were the most notorious witch hunts in English history.

Singing Detective – Dem Bones

4* The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway, #1)
4* The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway #2)
3* The House at Sea’s End (Ruth Galloway, #3)
3* A Room Full of Bones
3* A Dying Fall
MB The Outcast Dead (Ruth Galloway #6)

Pascali’s Island

bookshelves: film-only, spring-2014, booker-longlist, published-1980, lit-richer, turkish-and-or-ottoman-root, archaeology, greece, spies, filthy-lucre, mental-health, period-piece, historical-fiction

Read from April 06 to 07, 2014

Description: The year is 1908, the place, a small Greek island in the declining days of the crumbling Ottoman Empire. For twenty years Basil Pascali has spied on the people of his small community and secretly reported on their activities to the authorities in Constantinople. Although his reports are never acknowledged, never acted upon, he has received regular payment for his work. Now he fears that the villagers have found him out and he becomes engulfed in paranoia. In the midst of his panic, a charming Englishman arrives on the island claiming to be an archaeologist, and charms his way into the heart of the woman for whom Pascali pines. A complex game is played out between the two where cunning and betrayal may come to haunt them both. Pascali’s Island was made into a feature film starring Ben Kingsley and Helen Mirren.

Just short of 2 x 1 hour in length, you can watch Ben Kingsley, Charles Dance and Helen Mirren in action here

5* Sacred Hunger
5* Morality Play
4* Stone Virgin
WL The Quality of Mercy
4* Pascali’s Island
3* The Hide

Rustication

books-with-a-passport, giftee, published-2013, architecture, author-love, britain-england, families, eye-scorcher, gothic, lifestyles-deathstyles, lit-richer, love, mystery-thriller, paper-read, period-piece, recreational-drugs, victoriana, archaeology, dodgy-narrator, betrayal, bettie-s-law-of-excitement-lost, bucolic-or-pastoral, bullies, casual-violence, doo-lally, epistolatory-diary-blog, gambling, gangsters, gorefest, medical-eew, mental-health, ouch, revenge, sleazy, suicide, too-sexy-for-maiden-aunts, washyourmouthout-language, winter-20132014

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from May 08, 2013 to January 26, 2014

 

Synopsis: Christmas 1863. Seventeen-year-old Richard Shenstone has been sent down from Cambridge under a cloud of suspicion. Addicted to opium and tormented by disturbing sexual desires, he finds temporary refuge in the creaking old mansion inhabited by his newly impoverished mother and his sister, Effie, whose behaviour grows increasingly bizarre. Threatening letters circulate among the locals, where almost anyone can be considered a suspect in a series of crimes and misdemeanours ranging from vivisection to murder. Fans of Charles Palliser’s books, as well as readers of Sarah Waters and Michel Faber, will delight in this, his first new novel in over ten years. Hailed for fiction that is “mesmerizing, meticulous” (Entertainment Weekly), Palliser confirms his reputation as “our leading contemporary Victorian novelist” (The Guardian).

Another blurb: Charles Palliser’s work has been hailed as “so compulsively absorbing that reality disappears” (New York Times). Since his extraordinary debut, The Quincunx, his works have sold over one million copies worldwide. With his new novel, Rustication, he returns to the town of Thurchester, which he evoked so hauntingly in The Unburied.

Rustication:

1. To go to or live in the country
2. Used at Oxford, Cambridge and Durham Universities to mean being sent down

Well, that was a tricksy tale, and the core of Rustication being small town maliciousness, ugly letters and heinous crimes redolent of that within ‘Arthur and George’. Not that I need to have a cast of adorables peopling my fiction, however it was odd that there was no-one at all here to cheer for, to get behind. A technically clever novel that was bereft of any heart.

NB – for those who have marked this as horror, it is not.
3* no more, no less

5* Quincunx
4* The Unburied
3* Rustication
3* Betrayals
1* The Sensationist