Soft Targets by Stephen Poliakoff

bookshelves: film-only, play-dramatisation, published-1984, under-10-ratings, spring-2014, suicide, slavic, spies, cold-war

Read from April 07 to 08, 2014


Description from cream tv: Entertaining and sumptuously bizarre look at upper-middle-class English life from Stephen Poliakoff, seen through the eyes of minor Soviet official Alexei Varyov (Ian Holm). Living quietly by himself in a west London compound with other Russian journalists and civil servants, Alexei’s rather humdrum life of typing up Time Out-style articles for the Soviet press, with a side-line in posting videotapes of British TV to Russian broadcasters made from the twin VCRs in his flat, is livened up with a hefty dose of Cold War paranoia.

While sending some tapes of Top of the Pops abroad on an Aeroflot charter flight, he’s accosted at Heathrow by upper crust, impetuous foreign office agent Harman (Nigel Havers) who, after a rather showy demonstration of the reasons he was, entirely coincidentally, at the airport, drags Alexei off in his car to the early Sunday morning remains of a party at a Hampstead flat, where two young women Frances (Celia Gregory) and Celia (Helen Mirren), as well as assorted hangers-on including Rupert Everett, regard the nervous Russian with a mixture of suspicion and condescension.

Helen Mirren
Ian Holm
Nigel Havers

A disappointing number from Poliakoff’s oeuvre: a something-of-a-nothing, star-studded and polished production for BBC’s ‘Play for Today’ series. In later interviews Mirren was rather embarassed at her overt exhibition of how far her elocution lessons had progressed, and it was jarringly noticeable in this play.

Watch Here

3* Shooting the Past
2* Soft Targets
4* She’s Been Away
4* Playing with Trains
3* A Real Summer
WL Joe’s Palace
WL Capturing Mary

The Pilgrim of Hate

bookshelves: tbr-busting-2014, series, published-1984, winter-20132014, mystery-thriller, historical-fiction, film-only, britain-england, shropshire, religion, war, medieval5c-16c, medical-eew

Read on January 19, 2014

 

Description: The fourth anniversary of the transfer of Saint Winifred’s bones to the Abbey at Shrewsbury is a time of celebration for the 12th-century pilgrims gathering from far and wide. In distant Winchester, however, a knight has been murdered. Could it be because he was a supporter of the Empress Maud, one of numerous pretenders to the throne? It’s up to herbalist, sleuth, and Benedictine monk Brother Cadfael to track down the killer in the pious throng.

Dem bones, Dem bones. Cadfael plays jigsaw to find out some facts.

Have one TV episode left in my storage box and that’ll do fine for next week. Now I go back to New York to continue with The Golem and the Jinni.

3* #1 A Morbid Taste for Bones
3* #2 One Corpse Too Many
3* #3 Monk’s Hood
3* #4 St Peter’s Fair
3* #5 Leper of St. Giles
4* #6 The Virgin in the Ice
3* #7 The Sanctuary Sparrow
4* #8 The Devil’s Novice
3* #9 Dead Man’s Ransom
3* #10 The Pilgrim of Hate
3* #12 The Raven in the Forecourt
3* #13 The Rose Rent
4* #17 The Potter’s Field
3* #18 Summer of the Danes
TR #19 The Holy Thief

2* Flight of a Witch

2* Light on the Road to Woodstock

WL A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury

5* Sunrise in the West
TR The Dragon at Noonday
TR The Hounds at Sunset
TR Afterglow and Nightfall

Hotel du Lac

bookshelves: published-1984, tbr-busting-2014, winter-20132014, booker-winner, switzerland, love, books-about-books-and-book-shops, fraudio, lit-richer, dog-steals-the-show, midlife-crisis, newtome-author, contemporary, women, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, gr-library

Read on January 13, 2014

 

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Readying this for an audio TBR busting venture, I thought I’d check out the description and look what is says in the grrramazon box:

No Internal Markings, Tight Binding. Faint Wear To Wrap Edges.

That’s it. Chaos. bwhahaha

Gone are the days when fastidious goodreads librarians were hard at work for our betterment. Amazon took over and those sorely missed unpaid angels are deemed to be irrelevant by the Bezos world-eating blackhole.

Anyways, this novella length story (192 pages) is unabridged and read by Anna Massey.

Our Edith is in the dog-house and has been shuffled off, under considered direction of friends and family, to Switzerland to lie low until things die down a bit. Ostensibly, she will use this time to finish off her novel ‘Beneath the Visiting Moon’ however people-watching seems to take up all her mental capacity.

So Brookner sets up a tale where she can display her powers of descriptive prose, and she does it so very well that I, indeed nigh-on everyone, seem to have forgiven her this obvious conceit.

So why is this woman, Edith Hope, writer of romantic fiction, in disgrace? Reasons become clear as the story unfolds in an end-of-season, sparsely-peopled hotel in Switzerland.

Although this was published in the mid ’80s this has a feel or being about thirty years earlier. I can’t remember the 80s being so stifling for women.

The House by the Dvina

bookshelves: one-penny-wonder, published-1984, autobiography-memoir, autumn-2010, slavic, history, under-500-ratings, britain-scotland, paper-read, nonfiction

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Brazilliant Laura
Read from September 08 to 22, 2010

I remember the station. Nikolayevsky Vokzal, it was called in those days.

This is rich pickings indeed; thoroughly compelling and beautifully written, with memories through a young girl’s eyes and laced with stories told by older generations.

Found by Gaeta:
Off The Page : Eugenie Fraser

‘Drdushka decided to take a trip to the famous Solovetsky Monastry on the White Sea.’