Why I Really Like This Book
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.
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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.

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

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It just gets gloomier as the Ministry of Magic gets more authoritarian. The Order of the Phoenix is part teenage angst festival, and part 1984 with wands. Everything that could go wrong when teenagers are left to sort the world out nearly does. For extra depression: the world's worst first kiss ever.  But the book is saved by the gift of a swamp.

Direct download: Harrp_Potter_and_the_Order_of_the_Phoenix.mp3
Category:fantastical -- posted at: 12:30 AM
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The biggest, the most dangerous, the emotionally tormenting so far, The Goblet of Fire is where Ron starts getting stroppy, Harry gets butterflies in his stomach, and Cedric doesn't do so well. It's a massive novel, and the subtext is very politically dark.

Direct download: Harry_Potter_and_the_Goblet_of_Fire.mp3
Category:fantastical -- posted at: 12:30 AM
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It's the Knight Bus, and Sirius Black, and Buckbeak, and Dementors, and Lupin: Harry Potter begins to grow up in The Prisoner of Azkaban so much we can almost see the hormones taking effect. 

Direct download: Harry_Potter_and_the_Prisoner_of_Azkaban.mp3
Category:fantastical -- posted at: 11:30 PM
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Pod 2 in my survey of the Harry Potter novels. The Chamber of Secrets is about growing up and getting embarrassed, duels, the basilisk in the pipes, and interesting hallucinations brought on by an enchanted diary.  

Direct download: Harry_Potter_and_the_Chamber_of_Secrets.mp3
Category:fantastical -- posted at: 11:30 PM
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Also called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the first Harry Potter novel is a great source for questions and a lot of plotting for the future. But it's most rewarding as a journey into wonder and the delight of invention. 

Direct download: Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosophers_Stone.mp3
Category:fantastical -- posted at: 11:30 PM
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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.

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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. 

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For those with a fondness for Bonnie Prince Charlie, for lace jabots, snuff taken at the wrist, and the skirl of pipes on a wet foggy morning in the Highlands, these novels by John Buchan on the Jacobite Uprising / Rebellion will replace romantic tosh with splendid historical fiction that doesn't let sentimentality get in the way of the facts. 

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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.

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We're in Ancient Rome, and we're waiting for the lions, with Naomi Mitchison's fine novel The Blood of the Martyrs. Not everyone in the cells is a Christian, and not everyone waiting to see the blood start flowing in the arena is a pagan. These are the early years of the Christian Church seen from ground level, where it's really gritty and people get hurt. It's also a marvellous and deeply satisfying novel, but bring a handkerchief. For fans of Mary Renault but with togas.

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