Why I Really Like This Book (the life of the place)
These are podcasts about forgotten fiction, for curious readers, and for anyone who likes old books. Sometimes they're stories, sometimes they're not. Most of the authors write in English; and sometimes they don't. But all the books I talk about, I really really like. I hope you will too.
  iTunes . homepage . classes . past episodes . faculty page . more from Kate

Photobucket

My name is Kate Macdonald: I'm an English lecturer, and a lifelong browser in second-hand bookshops. I post weekly ten-minute podcasts on a Friday, on the books I really like which I think deserve new readers. You can find out lots more at the Facebook page here, and get these podcasts weekly by subscribing on the iTunes link above.

The music for the podcast intro is by The Tribe Band. Lucy Marsh did the drawing and Matthias Opsomer lettered it. Patrick Belk and Martin Fowler hold my tech safety net.

Miro Video Player

Questions? Send me a message by mailing me at kate [dot] brussels [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Archives

Past Episodes

Keyword Search

January

December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
January

December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January

December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January

December
November
October
September
August

Categories

detective fiction
the great outdoors
anti-romance
memoir
cooking
general
extra information
people-watching
the life of the place
fantastical
private classes
thrills and spills
always amusing
getting educated
strong women
thinking too much
simply heaven
archives
nemesis and revenge

Syndication

RSS Feed

 

Lady Baltimore is a social satire of the Deep South, set in Charleston at the turn of the 19th century, where the New Rich of Newport have come down to see if Hortense Rieppe the fast modern girl will marry John Mayrant the Southern gentleman, and why on earth she would want to do that. It's also a stealth novel about slavery, written by the losing side. For readers who don't expect to be taken in.

Comments[0]

Mud, fog, small beer, and not very much change in conversation over a lifetime spent in a 12th-century convent in eastern England. Sylvia Townsend Warner's pioneering historical novel The Corner That Held Them is about how history happens when you're not looking at it. 

Comments[0]

Geoffrey Trease and The Crown of Violet

It's around 400 BC in Athens, and there's a plot to overthrow the city-state's democracy with a dictator. It's also the Spring Festival, and Alexis has entered a play against Aristophanes, which he and the flute-girl Corinna have written to show Athens that Socrates and other critics of the state are not really that bad after all. Classic 1950s YA historical fiction, for readers who wear tweed while they read the Daily Worker.

Comments[0]

Bursley businessman takes on London snobbery about provincials and amateurs to build a theatre and run it for profit. Arnold Bennett's The Regent is sparkling, dogged, deeply satisfying, and a penetrating portrait of an Edwardian society that's too big for its boots.

Direct download: Arnold_Bennett_and_The_Regent_-_Novels_of_1913.mp3
Category:the life of the place -- posted at: 7:30am CET
Comments[1]

In R M Dashwood's glorious Provincial Daughter, this is life for a doctor's wife in a 1950s Berkshire village: feeding children, get them to school, making beds, interviewing boiler repairman, being depressed by scorn of next door neighbour, feeding toddler, a fleeting chance to wonder whether she ought to go to London for a decent hair cut, and then its back to collecting children, cooking, cleaning, scrambling into a dress that doesn't fit for a drinks party where everyone looks impossibly glamorous and expects her to be intellectual just because she has an English degree. More sherry please.

Comments[0]

Ecclesiastical thrills in Barbara Pym's village drama, Some Tame Gazelle. All the fun of the village fete, and lots more fun in and out of Belinda Bede's house, where proposals keep happening, suppers are competitive, and curates are cossetted beyond all reasonable requirements. For those interested in the hierarchy of the Church of England as it applies to getting out of a job.

Comments[0]

Come to Angela Thirkell's Barsetshire and trot around after the Rector's wife as she struggles with Northbridge in wartime conditions, in Northbridge Rectory. Shudder at the evacuees. Recoil at Mrs Spender's dinner-party conversation. Brace yoursef under Miss Pemberton's disapproval, but also marvel at her amazing cooking, and at the ease with which a book contract can be had with the right kind of onion soup. Mrs Villars only feels safe in the garden of the Rectory, but even there village life comes to find her. For all Barsetshire lovers.

Comments[0]

E F Benson's camp classic Queen Lucia begins his series about the immortal Lucia, queen of art and tyrant of the muse, in her dear little village of Riseholme. Battle royal commences when Olga Bracely arrives in the village. She is far more talented, and a far better musician, than Lucia will ever know. Watch as Olga steals Georgie Pillson from Lucia's side. Gasp as the struggle for social dominance reaches epic proportions in an evening party of romps, and smile as the Wagnerian tableaux allow Olga to retire from the fray, leaving Lucia triumphantly, ignorantly, the victor. For students of Machiavelli.

Comments[0]

Puck of Pook's Hill and Rewards and Fairies, two books of short stories all about England's history, wrapped around Rudyard Kipling's village of Burwash in Sussex, and told in the master's signature style of multilevels, elliptical storytelling, and complex allusions. And what fine and fascinating stories they are, where the village is almost more important than the people. For readers who like their county history.

Comments[0]

It's not a novel, but it's great political reportage and polemic. In The Road to Wigan Pier Orwell takes us into scenes of 20th-century degradation and poverty that were commonplace, and inescapable, for hundreds of thousands of the British before the Second World War. He gets angry about waste and mismanagement, petty meanness and middle-class squeamishness. He is resentful at the public-school system for giving him complexes about the smell of the poor, and he's furious at the misery children grow up in if their fathers can't get work. For readers who want something to get angry about.

Direct download: BPF_5_Orwell.mp3
Category:the life of the place -- posted at: 1:30am CET
Comments[0]