How ironic! I am just finishing up the Anthony Trollope novel, “Doctor Thorne” and BBC is airing their dramatized version of it! To listen to it free for a limited time, you can click here. “Doctor Thorne” is #3 in the Barchester Chronicles series, but I found that it stands on its own pretty well.
Tag Archives: strictly-British
A few months ago I was alerted by an email from Hillsdale College of a new free online course they’re making available on Jane Austen. As I keep slowly working on the C. S. Lewis lectures, I haven’t tackled the newest ones yet. But I’m looking forward to it and am finally getting around to passing the link on to anyone else who is interested.
While browsing the Hillsdale website, I notice there are several other excellent courses available for free as well. Lots of American civics and history lectures, Churchill homage, and many literature courses besides. Among them are talks elaborating on: Shakespeare’s Hamlet; Great Books 101 & 102, and Mark Twain stories. Enjoy!
Plot Summary: Four siblings- Cyril, Anthea, Robert, and Jane- experience magic adventures once again, as they happen across a unique egg that hatches into a beautiful Phoenix. Along with the egg comes a magic carpet that will take them on one wild ride after another, and that is only limited by their imagination.
My Book Review: One of my most popular posts on this blog has been my book review of E. Nesbit’s “Five Children and It.” I’m glad to know these children’s books are treasured by new generations of readers. The very definition of a classic is that it is timeless- it’s relatable, a standard, and often imitated. Nesbit really did break the mold in children’s fiction. Her stories tell of ordinary children who happen across magic in their daily life.
I did not grow up with Nesbit. Instead, I became interested in her works after I discovered Edward Eager’s Tales of Magic series in the young adult section of my library in my late teens. After reading several of his novels (in which he always pays homage to Nesbit), I decided to try her books as well. To be honest, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic over Five Children and It. Maybe there’s something wrong with me but being spoiled with Eager books, the Nesbit children felt bland in comparison. However, I decided to keep trying because I don’t give up that easily.
I have to say I liked this second novel in the Psammead series much better than the first. I believe these were both early works of hers, but she had a little more writing under her belt by the time she wrote this one. One reason it appealed to me more was the exotic locales the children travel to on their magic carpet. All the around the world we go- from India, to Persia, and a remote island in the Pacific. Such fun! But there are local adventures, too, such as when the Phoenix demands to be taken to his holy temple—the local fire insurance company!
The chapters are long, and I still find these four children boring and unrelatable compared to Eager’s children. Perhaps that is because Eager wrote his books fifty years later. I’m not sure. And of course, there are different opinions out there and some may like Edith Nesbit much better. To each his own. But I still plan on continuing with more Nesbits…
Plot Summary: [from Wikipedia:] “The Club of Queer Trades is a collection of stories by G. K. Chesterton first published in 1905. Each story in the collection is centered on a person who is making his living by some novel and extraordinary means… To gain admittance one must have invented a unique means of earning a living and the subsequent trade being the main source of income.”
My Book Review: If you’ve come to this blog post thinking you were going to read something on sexual identities, sorry to disappoint. Once upon a time the word ‘queer’ was used to mean ‘peculiar’. (I suppose ‘peculiar’ means something else now, too. We’re so creative as to assign a double meaning to every word that already exists.)
There are ordinary men who lead ordinary lives with their chosen ordinary careers. And then there are others who take a different route in life. They are the eccentrics, the colorful, and the crazy. …Or are we, as ordinary citizens, the crazies?
If someone asked you to invent a whole new career that had never been thought of before, do you think you could do it and make money from it? Not merely recycling an existing career, substituting one thing for another, but actually coming up with a line of trade that’s never been done before. It’s harder than it at first seems. Of course, there would have to be a market for it. And in the case of many of the extraordinary tradesmen in this collection of short stories, their careers are kept secret either because of the nature of their work, or because they would be thought insane.
As one would guess, this leads to many bizarre circumstances of ordinaries encountering these oddbodies (or geniuses) in society. The facts are there in front of their noses, but they can’t make sense of them. It takes a remarkable fellow straddling the best of both worlds to make sense of the mysterious cases brought before him. It makes for a curious read.
Although I usually dislike short story collections, I was glad this was written as it was. I didn’t particularly feel in the mood for a novel-length Chesterton at the time. Sometimes he’s best taken in ‘doses’ because he can be so thick in his nonsense. 🙂 Really, G.K. was such a Mad Hatter! Chesterton is never for those wanting a nice little story. And it definitely isn’t my favorite book of all time. But I enjoyed reading it anyway, because he picks you out of the mundane and makes you view the world at a different angle. It gives the brain a good exercise!
I would say my favorite chapter story was “The Adventures of Major Brown”, in which a man is caught in an awfully good escapade, but doesn’t realize how much fun it was until it was over! How often are we the same in life? We read novels for “escape” or to pseudo-live other “experiences”, but when some adventure happens in real life we are too overwhelmed to enjoy it in the moment. Then of course, there’s the debate over modern-day video games. Guys are so eager to play at fantasy games because it feeds something deep in their souls- the need for adventure. But what happened to living real life? Life is full of exciting experiences if only we accept its opportunities.
You can listen to the audiobook on Librivox by clicking here.
If you liked this book, I also recommend…:
Is anyone in the mood for great adventures full of mystical maidens and chivalrous knights? Librivox just recently catalogued a new narrated project by the author Howard Pyle: The Story of King Arthur and His Knights. This is a story that never ceases to interest people because of it’s classic characters. Along with some other great readers, I got to take part in reading these tales (Sections 22-24). My sections particularly documented the downfall of Merlin. I had originally hoped to narrate the whole story of Merlin but the commitment became a little daunting and I passed it on to reader dominictreas. However, it was fun to have flexibility in reading different character voices which is something I feel I’m good at.
I am currently in the process of narrating and editing my first solo! Title to be revealed in due time…
Version: 2015; starring Martin Clunes; Hattie Morahan; Michael Gregson
Genre: mystery; period drama; biographical
Plot Summary: George Edalji is the son of a respectable vicar from India, under suspicion of murder. Sir Arthur is a famous mystery writer grieving the death of his wife. The two are fatefully connected and the latter takes it upon himself to clear Edalji’s name so he and his family can live in peace. But things are not so clear cut and simple as they seemed at the beginning. The details of the case get weirder and weirder, and the body count rises. Can Arthur Doyle solve the mystery in time, or is George really guilty of the crimes?
My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not be comparing it to that novel. Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.
I’d been seeing the book at the library lately, and was itching to watch something other than Downton Abbey on PBS, so I gave this movie a shot. I’m so glad I did!
Atmosphere, suspense, historical period setting—all the ingredients for the perfect mystery are present in this Masterpiece film! Everything from creepy music, tweed suits, Clunes’ Scottish accent, the glow of candles, and the crunch of autumn leaves contributed to the mysterious atmosphere that pervaded throughout all three episodes of the story. It kept my attention well, and although I had to rewind to catch certain details and may not have followed the plot/motives entirely, I still highly enjoyed watching it. I’m not sure how much was based on actual truth or if it was pure fiction, but I found the actors believable, and Martin Clunes especially so in the role of Dr. Doyle.
During the course of the story, we discover that Sir Arthur is filled with remorse over the fact that he had an admiration for another woman while his wife was still living. I appreciated this element. Later, Doyle pursues a relationship with the woman he loves, and when accusations are thrown against it, he insists he had never used her as his mistress. The rest of the film is pretty clean, except for perhaps mild swearing, some unsightly animal killings and a rather gruesome death at the end. Probably the most unsettling is the pervading sense of unease throughout, which I found to be quite fun!
If you’re in the mood for a spooky-strange mystery, I’m sure you will enjoy this Victorian-era flick!