Firefly Summer by Maeve Binchy

bookshelves: britain-ireland, lifestyles-deathstyles, summer-2014, published-1987, play-dramatisation, radio-4x, flufferoonies, gambling, filthy-lucre, fradio, period-piece

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from July 12 to 22, 2014

Description: Kate and John Ryan have four children, of whom the eldest are Michael and Dara. Their small town is peaceful and friendly, an unchanging background for a golden childhood. In long, hot summers Michael and Dara and their friends fish and swim or play in the ivy-clad ruins of Fernscourt, the great house burned down during the Troubles…

No one in Mountfern has the slightest inkling of what it will mean when the ruins are bought by Patrick O’Neill, an Irish American with a dream in his heart and a great deal of money in his pocket. It is not until the very end of this drama, with its interlocking stories of love lost and won, ambitions nurtured and secrets betrayed, that Patrick O’Neill will understand the irony and the significance of his great dream for Mountfern.

1/6 Mountfern is a quiet Irish village, until the arrival of ambitious American Patrick O’Neil. Stars David Soul and Anna Healy.

2/6 Can American Patrick O’Neil win support for his plans for the Irish village of Mountfern?

3/6 Patrick O’Neil’s plans for a new hotel in the village of Mountfern face a terrible setback

4/6 Patrick O’Neil’s plans for a new hotel in Mountfern turn sour after Kate’s terrible accident.

5/6 Patrick O’Neill’s new hotel in Mountfern is nearly finished but the legacy of Kate’s accident lingers.

6/6 O’Neill’s new hotel is due to open, but his son’s recklessness may ruin everything.

3* Tara Road
3* Firefly Summer
4* No Nightingales, No Snakes

Longbourn by Jo Baker

bookshelves: summer-2014, spring-2014, flufferoonies, period-piece, published-2013, fanfic-writeback, chick-lit

Read from May 22 to June 07, 2014



The story of ‘Pride and Prejudice from the servants’ point of view.

Description: It is wash-day for the housemaids at Longbourn House and Sarah’s hands are chapped and raw. ‘If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats’, Sarah thought, she would be more careful not to tramp through muddy fields.’

Episode 1: The peace – or monotony – of domestic life below stairs is about to be disturbed the the arrival of a new footman, James.

Episode 2: Sarah is suspicious of the new footman, James Smith, even though his presence lightens her workload.

Episode 3: Sarah notices the presence of the militia makes James uncomfortable.

Episode 4: Sarah is charmed by the Bingleys’ footman, Ptolemy.

Episode 5: Sarah gets to know the Bingleys’ footman.

Episode 6: It is the day after the Bingleys’ ball, and everyone is feeling unsettled, including Sarah

Episode 7: Mr Wickham is bothering the servants.

Episode 8: Sarah is to go to Kent with Elizabeth Bennet but she does not want to leave James.

Episode 9: James has left without saying goodbye. Sarah and Mrs Hill are both distraught.

Episode 10: Sarah still has had no word from James, but the Bennet daughters have good news.

Mr. Harrison’s Confessions by Elizabeth Gaskell

bookshelves: radio-4x, spring-2014, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, play-dramatisation, britain-england, medical-eew, flufferoonies

Read from April 26 to May 03, 2014

Description: 4 Extra Debut. A new village surgeon discovers that all of his female patients require a single remedy – marriage to him. Stars Rebecca Front.

Wodehouse must have read this. Great fun.

3* North and South
3* Wives and Daughters
4* Cranford
4* Mary Barton
2* Ruth
4* Gothic Tales
3* Cousin Phyllis
4* Mr. Harrison’s Confessions
4* Curious, If True: Strange Tales

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab

bookshelves: adventure, doo-lally, flufferoonies, winter-20112012, seven-seas, series, published-2006, pirates-smugglers-wreckers, ouch, period-piece, paper-read, amusing, young-adult

Read from January 02 to 03, 2012

** spoiler alert ** dedication: To Sophie, who still has a quarter of a million pounds of which I have not seen a penny, even though this is the second entire book that I have dedicated to her

Opening: ‘That one looks almost exactly like a whale!’

Again – lovely-jubbly maps and interesting factual footnotes such as #7 – The cement exuded by barnacles is an extremely tough protein polymer. It is twice as strong as the epoxy glue used on the space shuttle. Also, the barnacle penis is ten times as long as the rest of its body.

On page six the cap’n is making a list of when it is acceptable for a pirate to cry:

1 – when holding a seagull covered in oil
2 – when singing a shanty that reminds him of orphans
3 – when confronted by the unremitting loneliness of the human condition
4 – chops

If you like Pterry-like humour, and like the idea of a send-up of ol’ Ahab this will suit you just fine. The lads here are arguing over who will read this next.

4* – The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (2004)
4* – Pirates! In an Adventure with Whaling (2005)


This Book Will Save Your Life

bookshelves: radio-4x, winter-20132014, published-2006, north-americas, california, amusing, flufferoonies, fradio, doo-lally

Read from February 07 to 14, 2014

Description: Richard Novak is a modern-day Everyman, a middle-aged divorcé trading stocks out of his home. He has done such a good job getting his life under control that he needs no one- except his trainer, nutritionist, and housekeeper. He is functionally dead and doesn’t even notice until two incidents-an attack of intense pain that lands him in the emergency room, and the discovery of an expanding sinkhole outside his house-conspire to hurl him back into the world. On his way home from the hospital, Richard forms the first of many new relationships: He meets Anhil, the doughnut shop owner, an immigrant who dreams big. He finds a weeping housewife in the produce section of the supermarket, helps save a horse that has fallen into the sinkhole, daringly rescues a woman from the trunk of her kidnapper’s car, and, after the sinkhole claims his house and he has to relocate to a Malibu rental, he befriends a reluctant counterculture icon. In the end, Richard is also brought back in closer touch with his family-his aging parents, his brilliant brother, the beloved ex-wife whom he still desires, and finally, before the story’s breathtaking finale, with his estranged son Ben.

BBC description: Penny Leicester’s adaptation of the novel by AM Homes. Richard Novak has spent most of life getting rich in LA and avoiding people. Things are about to change.

Narrator …… Darcy Halsey
Richard …… Tony Pasqualini
Anhil …… Mueen Jahan Ahmad
Ex wife …… Adriana Sevan

With JB Blanc, Logan Fahey, Lisa Pelikan

Directed by Tim Dee.

Episode 1: ‘Consider everything useful information.’ Richard Novak is in pain. What does it mean?

2: Leaking legs, crying women and a doughnut man who wants to drive Richard’s car. What does it mean? Starring Tony Pasqualini.

3: Richard’s life is changing. He is still making millions but he has become an accidental hero as well, befriending a crying woman and rescuing a horse. Is he happier?

4: A hobo rummaging through bins, more doughnuts and a kidnapped woman in the boot of a car. What does it mean?

5: Richard’s life has changed, but so has the city – it is on fire and seems to be falling into the Pacific Ocean. And Richard’s son arrives to see him after years apart.

The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel - Helene Wecker bookshelves: currently-reading, e-book, fantasy, cover-love, flufferoonies, handbag-read, published-2013, tbr-busting-2014, winter-20132014, historical-fiction, jewish, muslim, medical-eew,magicians, love, lifestyles-deathstyles, mythology, gr-library, philosophy, debut, christian

Read from January 18 to 24, 2014


Opening: The Golem’s life began in the hold of a steamship. The year was 1899; the ship was the Baltika, crossing from Danzig to New York. The Golem’s master, a man named Otto Rotfeld, had smuggled her aboard in a crate and hidden her among the luggage.


“Do you know what a golem is?”
“A person made of clay,” Rotfeld said, uncertain.
“Wrong. It’s a beast of burden. A lumbering, unthinking slave. Golems are built for protection and brute force, not for the pleasures of a bed.

““I’m sorry, Uncle, but it’s how I feel,” said Michael. “I look at what we call faith, and all I see is superstition and subjugation. All religions, not just Judaism. They create false divisions, and enslave us to fantasies, when we need to focus on the here and now.”

““In the dark, the enormous marble carvings seemed to change and ripple like waves. “It serves no purpose,” he said, trying to explain his fascination, to himself as much as her. “Buildings and bridges are useful. But why this? A gigantic arch from nowhere to nowhere.”

The Golem and the Jinni is flawed, overlong, drags in places and yet it has a magic about it. I certainly wanted to know what happened to the characters and waited for the evil one to get his comeuppence.


The Summer Day is Done

bookshelves: summer-2012, tbr-busting-2012, slavic, published-1976, one-penny-wonder, paper-read, flufferoonies, hardback

Read from May 28 to 29, 2012

Description: John Kirby was a British secret agent. Olga was the oldest daughter of Czar Nicholas and his Empress, Alexandra. It was 1911. Imperial Russia was already in its death throes, torn between evil manipulators and determined revolutionaries such as Rasputin and Lenin. But still, women in dazzling gowns and men in lavishly decorated uniforms whirled around opulent ballrooms and took drives in splendid carriages. Palaces and villas still gleamed in the sun, winter and summer.

While the storm gathered, John Kirby played tennis with Nicholas, frolicked with Nicholas’ children and floated on the delicious laughter of his radian Olga. But even the aching, unfulfilled happiness they won was not to remain undisturbed. Grand Duchesses are not destined to share their lives with untitled Englishmen. Glorious summer days do not last forever. The memories, however, do linger. And the images so hauntingly painted by R.T. Stevens-the characters ad the world they inhabit-will glow long after the last page of this novel has been turned.

0708935109 (ISBN13: 9780708935101)
The Summer Day is Done

Withdrawn from Berkshire Library

Dedication: To My Wife

Opens up in 1911 – The main station of the Ukranian seaport Nikolayev was more active than usual that morning, a buzz, a bustle, a shouldering of neighbours.

Page 35 (of Yalta): It was on this coast that many of Russia’s most privileged aristocrats had built their great houses or palaces. Somewhere in the vicinity was the enormous estate of the Tsar himself, crowned by the Lividia Palace.

Yalta – A Sunlit Street(painted 1932) by Aristarkh Lentulov (1882-1943)

Ai-Todor Cape, Black Sea (Crimea). It is located about 10 km west of Yalta. Built in 1911 by Architect A. Sherwood on Aurora Cliff. It was a summer retreat for Tsar Nicholas II. MEASUREMENTS: highest tower-45ft, length of base-90ft. Also called “The Castle of Love” or “Lastivchyne Hnizdo”! Survived an earthquake in 1927. Held the 1945 “Big 3” conference. It’s an architectural symbol of the Crimea and an Italian restaurant now.

Page 99 (entering Livadia Palace): He smiled as by his side he heard Alekabhumming the waltz from Tachaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty

From wiki: The Treaty of Björkö, known as the Treaty of Koivisto in modern Finland, was a secret mutual defense accord signed on July 24, 1905 between Wilhelm II of the German Empire and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.

Anna Alexandrovna Vyrubova, (16 July 1884 in Moscow — 20 July 1964, Helsinki), was a lady-in-waiting, best friend and confidante to Tsaritsa Alexandra Fyodorovna.

Page 129 (Kirby’s thoughts on Olga) : When she speaks like that, he thought, I could find her on any page in any Jane Austen book. She is as delicious as that.

BOYAR – Russian History. a member of the old nobility of Russia, before Peter the Great made rank dependent on state service. 2. a member of a former privileged class

Alexander Palace, Tsarskoe Selo. Page 316

Page 539 Opening of Book Two – The Four Horsemen: The summer came, smothering Russian with ennervating heat.

A mildly offensive and somewhat feckless meander through the last years of Tsarist Russia. In hard pressed times I would have been frustrated with this long winded romantic approach however the season, weather and circumstances meant it fit the bill.