The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean- Paul Didierlaurent.

The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘Charming… Champions the power of literature’ Sunday Times. (The front cover review). And it does celebrate literature.

Guylain reads excerpts of pages of books that escape pulping at the factory where he works, which he reads aloud on the train on the morning commute and then leaves the pages tucked down his seat for whoever might want to read them.

I loved everything about this book: the imagery: ‘Resignedly, he quit the warmth of the train… Outside the rain was pelting down…’ p. 9.

The sub-plot of the work accident severed legs mashed up in a book run: ‘… this inconsequential book… made with this unique paper pulp… The old fellow had found his legs’ p.57.

The security guard who spoke in verse and the literate toilet attendant: ‘When you’re a public lavatory attendant… you’re not expected to… sit there tapping away on… your laptop… You’re only good for wiping from morning to evening…’ p.133.

I also loved the crazy Care Home book group and the moving love story.

A book hasn’t stayed with me for a while. This one will.

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BBC Radio 4 Short Works. The Cleaner by Mary Paulson.

I’m loving this Short Works series by BBC Radio 4.

In The Cleaner a woman returns to her home village in Scotland to clear her mother’s house. But things do not turn out as she expects.

What ties us to our past? Makes us return and stay, even though we might have moved on?

Concise and clever story writing. I will be looking out for more Mary Paulson.

Find here on the BBC Sounds App:

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman.

I like Richard Osman and looked forward to reading this. You could definitely hear his voice in the writing. I loved the characters, but got a bit muddled with the plot. Still not really sure who killed who and why. But I definitely want to live in a retirement village with loads of quirky people to drink wine with and socialize. Look forward to the next murder solved by the Thursday Murder club.

Neil Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle.

BBC Radio Drama

Written by Neil Gaiman

Adapted by Katie Homs

Directed and Produced by Allegra McILroy

A twisted fairy tale part Snow White, part Sleeping Beauty with women at the forefront of the tale. Sleeping Beauty is awoken by a kiss from the Soldier Queen- the prince is redundant and the dwarfs aren’t to be taken seriously. On her awakening we find that Sleeping Beauty put a counter-spell on the old woman, ensuring that she can never sleep.

A brilliant BBC radio dramatization narrated by Dame Penelope Wilton with Neil Gaiman himself as The Home Secretary.

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.

A Christmas favourite. After a night of heavy snowfall, a boy plays in the snow, eventually building a large snowman. At the stroke of midnight, he sneaks downstairs to find the snowman magically comes to life.

They play in the snow and then take flight, flying over the South Downs towards the coast, seeing the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Palace Pier and north along the coast of Norway. They continue through an arctic landscape and into the aurora borealis. They land in a snow-covered forest where they join a party of snowmen. They eventually meet Father Christmas along with his reindeer.The snowman returns home with James before the sun rises and the two bid farewell for the night.

The film is as magical as the book with an emotive score. The first page of the original score of The Snowman, signed by composer Howard Blake, is due to go to auction in aid of the Journalists’ Charity.

I will never tire of this timeless book and film. I am Sussex born and bred and the fact that both Briggs and Blake have Sussex Connections and the book a Sussex backdrop, is what makes it even more delightful.

Weather by Jenny Offill.

Weather by Jenny Offill

Weather by Jenny Offill

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I was expecting a narrative with a beginning, middle and end. It wasn’t. I nearly gave up and then I settled in and accepted it for what it was. It was a book for a voice- Lizzie Benson’s. Her life, job, family, her affair- her stream of consciousness. Like living someone’s day to day life with them.

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John le Carre. Master of the spy novel.

John le Carre, whose novels include The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Little Drummer Girl and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy died on Saturday 12 December. For his novels he drew on his experience working for the British Intelligence Services, including MI6 during the Cold War. Born in 1931 he studied at Bern and Oxford universities and taught at Eton. He then became a Junior Diplomat at the British Embassy, thus starting his Intelligence career. 

The publication of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold brought him worldwide literary acclaim, when he left the Service to persue his literary career.

Ishmael’s Oranges by Claire Hajaj.

This is a book about war- about Palestine; about the divisions between the Jewish and Arab communities; about divisive families within those communities; it is about love and loss. Ishmael’s Oranges follows the story of two families spanning the crossroad events of modern times. In the swinging sixties Jude (Jewish) and Salim (Arab) fight against the legacy of their difference. They promise to each other that, unlike their parents, they can conquer the differences between their religions and cultures. Only they can’t and their children, in turn, inherit the same legacy of hatred.

It was a thought provoking and a brilliant take on age old issues that will never go away. I was hooked from page one.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

The Salt Path 

Raynor and Moth lost everything, including the roof over their heads- they decided to walk the South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall while they took stock. At the same time Moth is diagnosed with a terminal illness. With their possessions in backpacks they battled the elements, walking and living the Path. The Salt Path is about the resilience and resourcefulness of human nature. It is also a story of loss, courage, hope and love.

William Hill Winner.

The winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2020 has been announced as Grigory Rodchenkov for ‘The Rodchenkov Affair: How I Brought Down Putin’s Secret Doping Empire’. Rodchenko was the former head of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory and he is in hiding ever since he helped expose the true levels of Russia’s doping problem. His book tells of his childhood in Soviet Russia before moving onto his time with the Russian Olympic Committee and his role in the scandal that has led to his country’s continued exile from many international sporting events including the Olympics. He wins a prize of £30000.