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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Come to London clubland in 1923, and follow Richard Hannay on the trail of a riddling rhyme and secret plots to overthrow civilisation as we know it. In John Buchan's The Three Hostages, human evil battles with the manners of the gentleman's club, and north London is revealed as a den of criminality and sin. For those who live north of the river.

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Links to extra programmes and recordings on the Internet:

A Pod Academy interview about Forgotten Fiction.

Blogging at Vulpes Libris.

A one-hour radio discussion programme about First World War poetry.

Category:getting educated -- posted at: 4:52 AM
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Recently I took part in a radio discussion programme on English First World War poetry, and what it means to Belgians, and to British ex pats living in Belgium, on whose soil a lot of the battles of the First World War were fought. You can listen to the programme by clicking on this link: http://www.prx.org/pieces/87043-first-world-war-poetry-with-dr-kate-macdonald

The programme is 54 minutes long, and includes readings by local actors of poems by Wilfred Owen, Helen Hamilton, John McCrae, Rupert Brooke and Isaac Rosenberg.

Category:getting educated -- posted at: 1:33 PM
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Its glorious summer in Barsetshire, and the boys of Southbridge School are preparing to persecute their suffering classics master, who is engaged to the lovely but terminally stupid daughter of the headmaster, and is hating every minute of it. Angela Thirkell's joyous romp Summer Half brings the warm weather back, whenever you read it. For suffering parents everywhere.

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The Provincial Lady is put-upon by domestic chaos, but never despairs; is routinely crushed by Lady Boxe, but bounces back; escapes to London to see friends and frivol, but worries incessantly about her children; has great plans and marvellous ideas, but is crushed, again, by her husband. E M Delafield's 1930 comic classic lives forever: for all those stuck out in the sticks.

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I'll be leading a new course, or structured book group, from January 2013, on '200 Years of the British Novel'. This will be held in Brussels, Belgium, for a group of 20 students, and we'll be reading novels by Fanny Burney, Jane Austen, John Galt, Mrs Gaskell, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Rebecca West, Evelyn Waugh, Grahame Greene, and Jeanette Winterson. Full details can be found on the pdf file that you can download here.

The course will also be available to a further 20 students who want to participate as distance learners. You read the books to the same schedule as the Brussels class, and (if the technology works) will be able to listen in on the classes using skype or google videoconferencing, depending on whether your timezone makes this practical. You can also send me your comments and questions on the book we're reading each fortnight, and in return I'll collate these into a long document of answers and discussion, for each book. If you're thinking about signing up for a formal course on English literature at a university near you, this could be the perfect tryout for you. Full details for distance learners can be found on the pdf file here.

Interested? Send me an email at kate.brussels[at]yahoo.com, and we'll have a chat.

Category:private classes -- posted at: 12:30 AM
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Great-Aunt Ada once saw something nasty in the woodshed, and has held her family trapped in Cold Comfort Farm ever since. And now Flora Poste comes to rescue them, with common sense, a belief in Vogue, and the certainty that messy living needs to be tidied up. Stella Gibbons' immortal satire mocks pretentiousness, and reassures the meek that they will inherit the farm. For melodramatists everywhere.

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Extraordinary though it might seem, a pompous, arrogant, opinionated and stuffy Prussian military man, in a wet and windy English summer, five years before the First World War, makes the funniest caravan holiday ever, in Elizabeth von Arnim's The Caravaners. His wife is delightful, their fellow travellers are patient, even the horses are well-behaved, and Baron Otto von Ottring is a magnificent comic creation for us all to stand back and admire, and avoid. For those who had caravan holidays in their youth which have strangely never recurred.

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Just like her name, Max Beerbohm's Zuleika Dobson is a classic of British bathos, sending up the pompousness of Oxford University with a feminine attack on its Edwardian male bastions. For those who wear pearls for pleasure.

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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.

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