Narrated by Davina Porter

Description: Prudence Barrymore, a talented nurse who had worked with Florence Nightingale in the Crimea, is found strangled to death in a London hospital. Private inquiry agent William Monk is engaged to investigate this horrific crime. Gradually, Monk assembles the portrait of a remarkable woman. Yet he also discerns the shadow of a tragic evil and a frightening glimmer of his own eclipsed past . . .

Whoah! this was a bloated, soap box of an episode. Really not a favourite.

3* The Face of a Stranger (William Monk, #1)
2* A Sudden, Fearful Death (William Monk, #4)
3* The Shifting Tide (William Monk, #14)
4* Dark Assassin (William Monk, #15)
4* Execution Dock (William Monk, #16)

3* Death in the Devil’s Acre (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #7)

2* The Sheen on the Silk
3* A Christmas Guest (Christmas Stories, #3)
3* A Christmas Beginning (Christmas Stories, #5)

The Face of a Stranger (William Monk, #1) by Anne Perry

bookshelves: tbr-busting-2014, summer-2014, series, mystery-thriller, published-1990, fraudio, victoriana, london, britain-england, historical-fiction

Read from May 16 to June 10, 2014


Narrated by Davina Porter

Description: His name, they tell him, is William Monk, and he is a London police detective. But the accident that felled him has left him with only half a life; his memory and his entire past have vanished. As he tries to hide the truth, Monk returns…

That was a great listenalong. Look forward with pleasure to the next.

3.5* The Face of a Stranger

Eleanor Marx: A Life by Rachel Holmes

bookshelves: spring-2014, fradio, nonfiction, published-2014, women, victoriana, biography, politics

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from May 02 to 09, 2014


Listen here:

Description: Rachel Holmes’s new book is the lively, engaging and informative life story of the daughter of Karl Marx. Beginning with Eleanor’s upbringing in a happy and creative household – where she enjoyed the company of her parent’s friends including Engels – and moving on to tell of her achievements as a feminist, and activist and also her troubled love life.

Her achievements are remarkable, she was instrumental in preserving her father’s memory by sorting through his letters and laying the foundations for his biography. She was a pioneering feminist who made as profound a contribution to British political thought as Mary Wollstonecraft.

Her personal life was turned upside down by a family secret and a lover. She adored the socialist campaigner and would be playwright Edward Aveling, but he was a cheat and and broke her heart in a series of humiliations.

Episode 1: Beginning with Eleanor’s upbringing in a happy and creative household where she enjoyed the company of her parent’s friends including Engels.

Episode 2: It is 1871 and the Paris Commune is underway. Eleanor and her sisters are caught up in the bloody events. Later, a bid for independent living is hampered by the strictures and social mores of the day.

The Paris Commune was a revolutionary and socialist government that briefly ruled Paris from 18 March until 28 May 1871.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson: the first Englishwoman to qualify as a physician and surgeon in Britain, the co-founder of the first hospital staffed by women, the first dean of a British medical school, the first female M.D. in France, the first woman in Britain to be elected to a school board and, as Mayor of Aldeburgh, the first female mayor and magistrate in Britain.

Episode 3: Today, it is the 1880s and Eleanor falls in love and makes a difficult choice.

Beatrix Potter.

Edward Aveling

Episode 4: Eleanor’s campaigns for equality are making inroads. Later, an unexpected revelation turns her world upside down and leaves her profoundly shaken.

Episode 5: The poignant conclusion finds Eleanor betrayed and humiliated by the man she loves.

Rachel Holmes is the author of The Secret Life of Dr James Barry and The Hottentot Venus: The Life and Death of Saartjie Baartman. She is the co-editor, with Lisa Appignanesi and Susie Orbach, of Fifty Shades of Feminism.

Read by Tracy-Ann Oberman who is perhaps best known for playing Chrissie Watts in Eastenders for two years. Radio 4 audiences have regularly enjoyed her performances in comedy and drama, and more recently she has written dramas for the network.

Abridged by Julian Wilkinson.
Produced by Elizabeth Allard.

Eleanor with sisters Laura and Jenny, her father, Karl Marx his friend, Friedrich Engels.

The Reading Room at the British Museum where Eleanor and her Bloomsbury friends worked.

Eleanor concluded her speech with Shelley’s invocation “Ye are many – they are few”.

The Horns of the Buffalo

bookshelves: winter-20132014, tbr-busting-2014, published-2004, fraudio, historical-fiction, under-100-ratings, afr-s-africa, britain-wales, first-in-series, newtome-author, victoriana, series, palate-cleanser

Read from February 13 to 14, 2014

Book………………The Horns of the Buffalo
Author…………….John Wilcox
Series…………….Simon Fonthill
Narrator…………..Graham Padden
Source…………….20 Tapes

COVER BLURBS:In 1879, the British redcoats are universally regarded as the finest fighting force in the world. Among them is Lieutenant Simon Fonthill, dispatched to South Africa with much to prove: for Colonel Covington, his former Commanding Officer, has slanderously branded him a coward. In the Cape, tension is high. The Zulus, an independent nation of magnificently militant tribesmen, threaten the colonial government’s vision of a united South Africa. And Simon has been chosen for a particularly dangerous mission: to travel deep into Zululand to discover the intentions of the king. Simon encounters violence and imprisonment before he is faced with his greatest challenge. Escaping from the massacre at the Battle of Isandlwana, he must warn the tiny garrison at Rorke’s Drift of the threat posed by advancing Zulu impis. He has a chance to prove Covington a liar, but he may pay the ultimate price.

About The Author: John Wilcox. An inability to do sums and a nascent talent to string words together steered me towards journalism – that and the desire to wear a trenchcoat, belted with a knot, just like Bogart.

About The Reader: Graham Padden. Graham’s work on screen includes Doctor Who, Casualty, The Kindness of Strangers, Why We Went to War, Derailed, Casanova. He has been heard in many radio dramas, including David Edgar’s Playing with Fire, Lorna Doone, Blake’s 7, and The Archers. He has recorded 60 audio books. He has had 3 plays produced.

A story of Rourke’s Drift. Excellent writing, lovely narration and I especially liked 352 Jenkins.

3* The Horns of the Buffalo


The Quick by Lauren Owen

bookshelves: currently-reading, net-galley, debut, e-book, victoriana, published-2014, cults-societies-brotherhoods, glbt, vampires, london, gothic, fantasy

Read from February 07 to 13, 2014


ARC received with thanks from Net Galley and Random House Publishing Group – Random House in exchange for an honest review.

The most mysterious gentlemen’s club in London. The Aegolius’s character and affairs are kept a profound secret, known only to its initiates.

From the description: London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.

The opening is so evocative: There were owls in the nursery when James was a boy.

Since 1830, the club’s address has been Ormond Yard, off St James’ Square.

Expect this to be seen looming large on the updates of paranormal readers after its publication in July 2014. As a debut novel this is good, however flawed. The beginning is slow, it takes such a long time for any significant plot to event the horizon, and the writing for the first 50 pages is pedestrian. However, it does settle down and even the writing starts to fly into what the author must have been capable of all the time. Don’t forget, I am reading an uncorrected proof so these things may all be sorted by the time it is in the public arena.

It would be unfair for me to give away anymore than what is in the description above, yet I will stress that this will be highly appealing to great swathes of readers.

As the blurbs imply, this is a good debut novel by Lauren Owen.

The Aegolius Club

LOOKSEE: I see there is a way to request a free copy of The Quick here



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.


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