Dark Fire

bookshelves: historical-fiction, re-visit-2014, radio-4, summer-2014, tudor, mystery-thriller

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from May 04, 2008 to September 05, 2014

 

1ST ENCOUNTER – PAPER READ: Not quite as good as the first Matthew Shardlake story, nevertheless a good tale with full attention paid to historical detail.

2ND ENCOUNTER – BBC radio dramatisation:

R4 in ten episodes HUZZAH!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04f9frh

BBC description: Gripping dramatisation of C. J. Sansom’s atmospheric Tudor crime novel set during the last days of Thomas Cromwell.

London, 1540, hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake has lived quietly in the three years since he was asked by Cromwell to investigate a murder at Scarnsea monastery on England’s south coast (a story told in “Dissolution”). But his quiet life is soon forgotten as he rushes to solve two very different but urgent mysteries: save the life of a young girl accused of a terrible murder; and, discover who has stolen the last precious batch of Greek Fire, a mythical weapon of mass destruction.

Accompanied by Cromwell’s man – the young and impetuous Barak – Shardlake desperately searches for clues against the backdrop of a hot and stinking London summer.

A fast and furious crime drama, “Dark Fire” features ethical dilemmas, intriguing characters and a luminous historical setting. Starring Justin Salinger as Shardlake, Bryan Dick as Barak and Robert Glenister as Thomas Cromwell.

Written by C. J. Sansom
Dramatised by Colin MacDonald
Produced and directed by Kirsteen Cameron

1/10 Dramatisation of CJ Sansom’s Tudor crime novel, featuring lawyer detective hero Shardlake

2/10 Thomas Cromwell summons Shardlake, and engages him to undertake a deadly secret mission.

3/10 The search for the stolen Greek Fire intensifies as Shardlake questions the key suspects.

4/10 Shardlake and Barak’s investigation leads them to the ruins of St Bartholew’s monastery.

5/10 Shardlake focuses on helping Elizabeth Wentworth, accused of murdering her young cousin.

6/10 Whoever is behind the Greek Fire theft will do anything to keep it from the Earl of Essex.

7/10 With Shardlake’s lack of progress, Cromwell reveals that he fears losing the King’s favour

8/10 Trapped inside the burning house, Shardlake witnesses the destructive power of Greek Fire.

9/10 Shardlake and Barak finally discover who lies behind the plot to bring down Cromwell.

10/10 Held at knifepoint, can Shardlake and Barak escape to warn the Earl about the plot?

Of course it was lovely to revisit via radio but I have to say, there ain’t nothing better than curling up with this series in its full paper glory. The Shardlake books are my favourite hist-fic, hands down.

5* Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake, #1)
4* Dark Fire (Matthew Shardlake, #2)
5* Sovereign (Matthew Shardlake, #3)
5* Revelation (Matthew Shardlake, #4)
4* Heartstone (Matthew Shardlake, #5)
TR Lamentation (Matthew Shardlake, #6)

3* Dominion
5* Winter in Madrid
3* The Lost Prophecies (The Medieval Murderers, #4)

The Listener by Tove Jansson

bookshelves: autumn-2014, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, published-1971, translation, radio-4

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from August 30 to September 05, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04g18g2

Description: Made for 4 Extra. Two young teenagers look after a sick man through the night. From Tove Jansson’s debut 1971 collection. Read by Indira Varma.

Creator of the Moomins, Tove Jansson, a Swedish-speaking Finnish novelist, painter, illustrator and comic strip author is one of the most successful children writers ever. In her debut collection published in 1971 she tells of what we experience in youth, love, getting older and dying.

Translated by Thomas Teal into English for the first time in the UK to celebrate the centenary of her birth in August 2014.

Producer Karen Rose. Executive producer Jeremy Osborne.

Made for BBC Radio 4 Extra by Sweet Talk Productions

The Sleeping Man: Two young teenagers look after a sick man through the night.

The Wolf: Mr Shimomura wants to draw a dangerous animal, but first he must find one.

A Love Story: For the first time, the painter fell in love with a sculpture of a woman’s buttocks!

Letters to an Idol: She owned all of his books about love. He was her idol.

Lucio’s Friends: Everyone loves Lucio. Don’t they?

Famous for her Moomin books, this was TJ’s debut collection for adults translated this year to celebrate the centenary of the author’s birth. Neato! Each story has something to mull over, to roll around the mouth and smile about.

Beautifully read, calming in nature, these stories were lovely to listen to in the hammock under the shedding leaves in a 2014 Indian summer. The fourth story, ‘Letters to an Idol’ moved this delightful encounter from three to four nd because there were no Moomins in these stories, I shall import four to reflect this rating.

3* Finn Family Moomintroll (The Moomins, #3)
5* Moominland Midwinter (The Moomins, #6)
3* Moominvalley in November (The Moomins, #9)

4* The Summer Book
3* Travelling Light
1* The True Deceiver
4* The Listener

Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love by James Booth

bookshelves: summer-2014, radio-4, published-2014, biography, newtome-author, nonfiction, poetry

Read from August 23 to 28, 2014

 

BOTW

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04f9frc

Description: Philip Larkin was that rare thing among poets – a household name in his own lifetime. Lines such as ‘Never such innocence again’ and ‘Sexual intercourse began / In nineteen sixty-three’ made him one of the most popular poets of the last century.

Larkin’s reputation as a man, however, has been more controversial. A solitary librarian known for his pessimism, he disliked exposure and had no patience with the literary circus. And when, in 1992, the publication of his Selected Letters laid bare his compartmentalised personal life, accusations of duplicity, faithlessness, racism and misogyny were levelled against him.

There is, of course, no requirement that poets should be likeable or virtuous, but James Booth asks whether art and life were really so deeply at odds with each other. Can the poet who composed the moving ‘Love Songs in Age’ have been such a cold-hearted man? Can he who uttered the playful, self-deprecating words ‘Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth’ really have been so boorish?

A very different public image is offered by those who shared the poet’s life – the women with whom he was romantically involved, his friends and his university colleagues. It is with their personal testimony, including access to previously unseen letters, that Booth reinstates a man misunderstood – not a gaunt, emotional failure, but a witty, provocative and entertaining presence, delightful company; an attentive son and a man devoted to the women he loved.

Read by Michael Pennington
Written by James Booth
Abridged by Libby Spurrier
Produced by Joanna Green
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4

1/5 Aged 17, Larkin goes up to Oxford to read English and meets a jazz-loving kindred spirit.

2/5 Philip meets Monica Jones, an assistant English lecturer at Leicester University.

3/5 Philip begins work as librarian at Hull University and oversees plans for expansion.

4/5 As middle age approaches, Larkin’s private life is as complicated as ever.

5/5 Despite having two continuing relationships, Larkin brings another woman into his life.

Would you have shagged him? Not me. It is a question of liking the output, disliking the outputter. And Oh! how he disliked his parents, and families in general, which is why he penned these:


They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

and in reply, this:

They suss you out, your girls and boys.
You may not know it, but they do.
They find out all your faults and foibles
Because they concentrate on you.

Their eyes and ears are sharp, perceptive,
Slicing through your best disguise.
And if you grit your teeth and take it,
Their advice might make you wise.

They cannot cure your old compulsions;
They will not stroke away the aches
That plague your heart and grieve your bones
But they can learn from your mistakes.

And:

They tuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not want to, but they do.
They give you games and stories they had
And make up new ones, just for you.

And they were tucked up in their turn
By parent figures in the past,
Who helped them, growing up, to learn
That pain and misery end at last.

Your kids can comfort smaller kids.
And get some pleasure from this chore.
The fretful baby’s drooping eyelids
Move our hearts to ask for more.

“Annus Mirabilis” by Philip Larkin (read by Tom O’Bedlam)

Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered

 

bookshelves: art-forms, summer-2014, published-2014, nonfiction, italy, radio-4

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from August 11 to 15, 2014

 

BOTW

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04d1c48

Description: A genius immortalised her. A French king paid a fortune for her. An emperor coveted her. Every year more than 9 million visitors trek to view her portrait in the Louvre. Yet while everyone recognizes her smile, hardly anyone knows her story.

Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered – a blend of biography, history, and memoir – truly is a book of discovery about the world’s most recognised face, most revered artist, and most praised and parodied painting.

Who was she, this ordinary woman who rose to such extraordinary fame? Why did the most renowned painter of her time choose her as his model? What became of her? And why does her smile enchant us still?

The author, Dianne Hales, is a prize-winning, widely published journalist and author. The President of Italy awarded her an honorary knighthood in recognition of her internationally bestselling book, La Bella Lingua.

Abridged by Eileen Horne
Reader: Nancy Crane
Producer: Clive Brill
A Brill production for BBC Radio 4.

1/5 Who was the real Mona Lisa? And why did Leonardo paint her? Dianne Hales investigates.

2/5 Dianne Hales delves into the history of Mona Lisa’s ancestors to understand her character.

3/5 Mona Lisa is born into a turbulent era, just as an artistic star from Vinci is on the rise

4/5 As Leonardo delights the court of Milan, Florence is changing beyond all recognition

5/5 Leonardo returns to Florence and Francesco del Giocondo commissions a portrait of his wife

Nothing new to the table yet adequate as a primer.

A Song for Issy Bradley

 

BABT

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04d8dvt

Description: This is the story of what happens when Issy Bradley dies.

It is the story of Ian – husband, father, maths teacher and Mormon bishop – and his unshakeable belief that everything will turn out all right if he can only endure to the end, like the pioneers did. It is the story of his wife Claire’s lonely wait for a sign from God and her desperate need for life to pause while she comes to terms with what’s happened.

It is the story of the agony and hope of Zippy Bradley’s first love, the story of Alma Bradley’s cynicism and reluctant bravery, and it is the story of seven-year-old Jacob. But mostly it’s the story of a family trying to work out how to carry on when their world has fallen apart.

Incredibly moving, unexpectedly funny and sharply observed, A Song for Issy Bradley, explores the outer reaches of doubt and faith. Author Carys Bray was brought up in a devout Mormon family. In her early thirties she left the church and replaced religion with writing. She was awarded the Scott prize for her debut short story collection Sweet Home. A Song for Issy Bradley is her first novel.

1/10 It is little Jacob’s birthday, and he wants all the family to have breakfast together.

2/10 Claire is trying to keep control of Jacob’s birthday party, and Issy says she feels unwell

3/10 Issy has been rushed to hospital suffering from meningitis. She is in critical condition.

4/10 It is Issy’s funeral, but little Jacob is hatching a plan to make everything better.

It wouldn’t be the first time that my reticence would be proven unfounded and it was that reasoning that I embarked upon this Book at Bedtime insert. Unfortunately it was as dismal as the description makes out, a real playing on the heart-strings. It is fair to say I am not the target audience here. Abandoned at 40%

NEXT!

The Outcast by Sadie Jones

bookshelves: summer-2014, published-2008, surrey, britain-england, radio-4, period-piece, abandoned, next, bettie-s-law-of-excitement-lost

Read from August 02 to 11, 2014

BABT

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b009fsnr

Description: 1957, and Lewis Aldridge is travelling back to his home in the South of England. He is straight out of jail and nineteen years old. His return will trigger the implosion not just of his family, but of a whole community.

A decade earlier, his father’s homecoming casts a different shape. The war is over and Gilbert has recently been demobbed. He reverts easily to suburban life – cocktails at six thirty, church on Sundays – but his wife and young son resist the stuffy routine. Lewis and his mother escape to the woods for picnics, just as they did in wartime days. Nobody is surprised that Gilbert’s wife counters convention, but they are all shocked when, after one of their jaunts, Lewis comes back without her.

Not far away, Kit Carmichael keeps watch. She has always understood more than most, not least from what she has been dealt by her own father’s hand. Lewis’s grief and burgeoning rage are all too plain, and Kit makes a private vow to help. But in her attempts to set them both free, she fails to predict the painful and horrifying secrets that must first be forced into the open.

As menacing as it is beautiful, The Outcast is a devastating portrait of small-town hypocrisy from an astonishing new voice.

Even with the lovely Emma Fielding reading and the Surrey location, I just could not warm to this at all. NEXT

The War That Ended Peace: The Road To 1914 by Margaret MacMillan

bookshelves: summer-2014, wwi, nonfiction, radio-4, published-2013

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: farmwifetwo
Recommended for: Laura, Susanna
Read from June 23 to August 05, 2014

 

Farmwifetwo alerted me to this article.

As Caroline so aptly notes in her review, one has to keep abreast of which book will suit each reader best. Having just come out of the dense July Crisis by Otte, I feel this book may be a hurdle too far in self-hurt.

SCRAP THAT – the BBC radio 4 has been broadcasting MacMillan’s work day by day and it is excellent.

Eugenie Grandet

bookshelves: summer-2014, series, france, fradio, radio-4, published-1833, filthy-lucre, lifestyles-deathstyles, play-dramatisation, suicide, translation, love, lit-richer, cousin-love, families

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from July 30 to August 05, 2014

 

Classic Serial

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04bmtpk

Description: Rose Tremain’s gripping dramatisation, starring Ian McKellen, of Balzac’s tragic novel revolving around Grandet, an ageing vine farmer, and his innocent young daughter Eugenie.

Monsieur Grandet, who has amassed a considerable fortune, is a miser who feigns poverty and runs his household along miserably frugal lines. All changes with the arrival of Eugenie’s handsome 22-year-old cousin, Charles Grandet, from Paris. Charles has brought with him a shocking letter from his father, Guillaume, who has committed suicide. He has placed his debts and the care of his son into his brother’s hands. It is a fatal decision, with ruinous consequences for the whole family.

Eugenie Grandet is considered by many to be the strongest novel in Balzac’s magnificent series, The Human Comedy. It pits a young naive girl against the father she has worshipped and this defiance sets us on course for the playing out of a heart-rending tragedy. Like King Lear, Grandet is a man who deeply loves the daughter who has defied him. He has no other child, no hope, no future but her. But in Balzac’s ‘human comedy’ the tragic and the comic exist side by side and this fruitful conjunction blossoms in Rose Tremain’s enthralling adaptation.

Cello and Treble Recorder: Alison Baldwin
Original Music: Lucinda Mason Brown
Produced and directed by Gordon House
A Goldhawk Essential production for BBC Radio 4

1/2 Rose Tremain’s gripping dramatisation of Balzac’s novel stars Ian McKellen as Grandet.

2/2 Rose Tremain’s gripping dramatisation of Balzac’s novel stars Ian McKellen as Grandet.

Some lovely images on google piccies:

3* Cousin Bette
3* The Unknown Masterpiece
3* Eugénie Grandet

Cold Blood: Adventures with Reptiles and Amphibians

bookshelves: radio-4, summer-2014, nonfiction, britain-england, autobiography-memoir, published-2014, nature, newtome-author

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from July 30 to August 01, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04ch156

Description: As a boy, Richard Kerridge found refuge in the wilderness of suburban England whose reptilian inhabitants were wondrously untameable. His often troubled and turbulent relationship with his father formed the backdrop to his adventures with neighbourhood friends as they scoured local parks and streams for newts, frogs, toads, lizards, and the ultimate prize – snakes.

What might it be like to be cold blooded, to sleep through the winter, to shed your skin, and taste wafting chemicals on your tongue? Do toads feel a sense of danger as the wheels of a car approach ? What exactly is an ‘alien’ species?

Kerridge has continued to ask these questions during a lifetime of fascinated study and countless expeditions.

Weaving startling nuggets of research (e.g. fewer than 5% of toads reach adulthood) with elements of history and folklore, the author has also created his personal emotional map of a lifelong relationship with these often unloved and overlooked creatures.

Read by Robert Powell.
Abridged, produced and directed by Jill Waters
A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4

Theme music is Serge Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf. Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

1/5 Eight-year-old Richard catches his first newt.

2/5 Toads – real and imaginary. The temptations of anthropomorphism.

3/5 Tensions at home are released by a lizard hunt.

4/5 The much maligned adder, and how to catch one.

5/5 Family memories, a Natterjack sings, and the ‘alien’ Camden Creature.

Richard Kerridge with Laura Rawlings at BBC Radio Bristol

Lovely. Four jumping frogs

Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves by James Nestor

bookshelves: summer-2014, environmental-issues, nonfiction, radio-4, sciences, published-2014

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from July 22 to 27, 2014

 

BOTW

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b049y3mf

Description: In his new book, “Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves”, American journalist James Nestor investigates the world of freediving, both competitive and scientific.

He learns how to stay underwater for extended periods; goes shark-tagging; has a close encounter with sperm whales; plunges to 2,500 feet in a DIY submarine; unveils startling facets of human physiology – most notably the extraordinary life-preserving reflexes known as the Master Switch of Life.

And we learn about the old and new life-forms that inhabit our deep oceans – a habitat with the greatest biodiversity on earth, yet most of it remains unknown.

Abridged and produced by Pippa Vaughan.
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

1/5 James Nestor searches for the elusive ‘doorway to the deep’.

2/5 James Nestor meets some scientific freedivers and goes shark-tagging.

3/5 Nestor dives with the Ama, women who have been freediving in Japan’s seas for 2,000 years.

4/5 In the Caribbean, James Nestor plunges to the Midnight Zone in a home-made submarine.

5/5 Nestor is in Sri Lanka, diving in the hope of encountering the world’s largest predator.