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Isabel Allende, Cynthia Farrell, Samantha Desz, Timothy Andres Pabon, Gibson Frazier, Joy Osmanski
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Thomas McNamee, Bob Reed
The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions
Thomas McNamee
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Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen Fry
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Mary Stewart
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The Stories of Eva Luna - Isabel Allende, Cynthia Farrell, Samantha Desz, Timothy Andres Pabon, Gibson Frazier, Joy Osmanski
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BL-opoly, Pandemic Edition: TA's Master Update Post

My marker is based (of course) on my little assistants and good luck charms, Sunny and Charlie, who are again helping me pick my books (this time around, properly pandemic-proofed).

 

 

My Progress Spreadsheet

 

 

The Books and the Board

The Questions

Who?: 

Why?:

How?: 

When?:

 

The Railroads

The Silk Road:

The Patagonia Star:

The Cape-to-Cairo Railway:

The Nordic Express:

 

School's Out For Summer

#1:

#3:

#4:

 

The Stay-Cation

#6: 

#7: 

#9: Isabel Allende: The Stories of Eva Luna

 

Beach Week

#10:

#11: 

#12:

 

Mountain Cabin

#15:

#16:

#18: 

 

The Lake House:

#19: 

#20: 

#22:

 

The Summer Blockbuster

#25:

#27:

 

The Summer Romance

#28:

#30:

 

European Vacation

#33:

#35:

#36: 

 

The Novelty Cards

The Race Car:

The Robot:

The Cat:

The Dog: 

 

The Four Corners

GO: Collected $20 on May 26; and $5 each on:

 

 

Jail:

Free Parking: 

Go to Jail:

 

The BookLikes Squares:

Spin the Wheel Decide

#24:

#31:

 

BL-opoly, Pandemic Edition -- First Roll

The Stories of Eva Luna - Isabel Allende, Cynthia Farrell, Samantha Desz, Timothy Andres Pabon, Gibson Frazier, Joy Osmanski

 

 

Another pandemic month, another game, thanks to Moonlight Reader!  I'm glad we're making this a low-key version, and I don't know how often I'll want to roll, but anyway ... here we go.  Like last year, I'll have my two little helpers by my side helping me pick my books -- and in keeping with the time, they are properly equipped with face masks.  (Being blood siblings and members of the same family, they do not, of course, also have to comply with social distancing between each other.)

 

Low-Key Booklikes-opoly in June & July

 

I was looking back over last year's Booklikes-opoly game on the Bingo group and I'm struck at how nostalgic the travel theme feels, from just a year ago. Which made me realize that I'm looking down the barrel of a long, hot summer with nothing but armchair travel to sustain me. 

 

Which made me think:

 

 

Why not play it again?

 

I was a lousy host for Snakes & Ladders, and I can't really promise to do much better for a summer tiime game of BL-opoly, but I'm going to play it - low key, no stress - as long as BL sticks around and lets me.

 

I'm going to run my game from today through July 31st, which will give me plenty of time to gear up for Halloween Bingo - I need to be in top form for the flagship game of Booklikes. 

 

My total bank ended at $127.00 last year, so my goal for this year is to try to exceed that number!

 

If anyone wants to join me, you can find the game board & rules on the bingo group! 

 

 

Reblogged from Moonlight Reader

DNF @ 30% (approx).

A Judgement In Stone - Ruth Rendell, Carole Hayman

"Illiterate" (read: dyslexic) working class home help kills her well-meaning but utterly clueless upper class employers.  The end.  (And because it's an inverted mystery, we know literally from the first sentence that this is going to happen.)  Aaaannnd ... I'm out.

 

I'm not merely bored, though.

 

Chiefly, I'm furious at Rendell for deliberately framing dyslexia:

 

(1) as a class issue (which it patently is not and never has been), and

(2) what is infinitely worse, as the trigger that causes a psychopath who is secretly morbidly ashamed of her lack of literacy to fatally lash out at others.

 

Shame on you, Baroness.  You ought to have known better.

 

Let no part of the blame fall on Carole Hayman, however, whose spirited reading made me give this book way more of my time than I should have.

Around the World in 80 Books Mostly by Female Authors: Master Update Post

[World map created with Mapchart.net]

 

The aim: To diversify my reading and read as many books as possible (not necessarily 80) set in, and by authors from, countries all over the world.  Female authors preferred.  If a book is set in a location other than that of the author's nationality, it can apply to either (but not both).

 

On the map I'm only tracking new reads, not also rereads.

 

This is a project continued from 2019.  2020 reads for a country already covered in 2019 will override the 2019 reads.  (2019 books listed below the page break.)

 

The Books:

Africa

Nigeria

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: We Should All Be Feminists (new)

 

South Africa

Agatha Christie: The Grand Tour: Letters and Photographs from the British Empire Expedition 1922 (new)

 

Ghana

Yaa Gyasi: Homegoing (new)

 

Burundi

Gaël Faye: Petit pays (Small Country) (new)

 

 

 

 

 

Americas

USA

Martha Wells: All Systems Red (new)

Sarah-Jane Stratford: Radio Girls (new)

Various Authors, Lee Child (ed.): Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance (new)

Tamora Pierce: Alanna: The First Adventure, In the Hands of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, and Lioness Rampant (all new)

Scott Lynch: The Lies of Locke Lamora (new)

Sonia Sotomayor: My Beloved World (new)

Charles Portis: True Grit (new)

Sara Paretsky: Indemnity Only (new)

Lee Goldberg: Lost Hills (new)

Anne Fadiman: Confessions of a Common Reader (new)

Martha Grimes: The Horse You Came In On (new)

Anthony Boucher: The Case of the Baker Street Originals (new)

Otto Penzler (ed.) & Various Authors: Murder at the Racetrack and Dangerous Women (both new)

 

Antigua

Jamaica Kincaid: A Small Place (new)

 

 

 

 

 

Asia

Philippines

Mia Alvar: In the Country (new)

 

Syria

Rafik Schami: Murmeln meiner Kindheit (My Childhood's Marbles) (new)

 

India

Barbara Cleverly: Ragtime in Simla (new)

 

 

 

 

 

Australia / Oceania

 

 

 

 

 

Europe

United Kingdom

Gladys Mitchell: Death Comes at Christmas (aka Dead Men's Morris) (new)

Agatha Christie: 12 Radio Mysteries, Towards Zero, Ordeal by Innocence, The Harlequin Tea Set and Other Stories, and Cat Among the Pigeons (all revisited on audio)

E.M. Delafield: The Diary of a Provincial Lady (new)

Dorothy Dunnett: The Game of Kings (new)

David Ashton: McLevy, Series 1 & 2 (new)

Elizabeth George: I, Richard (revisited on audio)

Ngaio Marsh: Scales of Justice (twice), Overture to Death, Light Thickens, Dead Water, Death at the Bar, Enter a Murderer, A Man Lay Dead, Death on the Air and Other Stories, When in Rome, Singing in the Shrouds, False Scent, and Final Curtain (all revisited on audio)

Tony Riches: Jasper and Henry (both new)

John Bercow: Unspeakable (new)

Patricia Wentworth: The Case of William Smith, The Case Is Closed, and Pilgrim's Rest (all new), Miss Silver Comes to Stay (reread)

Colin Dexter: Last Bus to Woodstock (revisited on audio)

Raymond Postgate: Somebody at the Door and Verdict of Twelve (both new)

Ellis Peters: The Sanctuary Sparrow and An Excellent Mystery (both revisited on audio)

J. Jefferson Farjeon: Thirteen Guests (new)

Terry Manners: The Man Who Became Sherlock Holmes (new)

Margery Allingham: The Beckoning Lady, Black Plumes (both new), Death of a Ghost, Mystery Mile, Sweet Danger, Dancers in Mourning, and Flowers for the Judge (all revisited on audio), My Friend Mr. Campion and Other Stories (new), and The Case of the Late Pig (reread)

P.D. James: BBC 4 Radio Collection (7 full cast adaptations) (revisited)

Keith Frankel: Granada's Greatest Detective (new)

Cyril Hare: Tragedy at Law (new)

Georgette Heyer: No Wind of Blame (reread)

Joy Ellis: The Patient Man (new)

Anne Perry: Defend and Betray (new)

Michael Cox: A Study in Celluloid (new)

Emmuska Orczy: Lady Molly of Scotland Yard (new)

Val McDermid: Broken Ground (new)

Josephine Tey: Miss Pym Disposes (new), A Daughter of Time (reread), and Dickon (as Gordon Daviot) (new)

Detection Club: Ask a Policeman (new)

Susanna Gregory: An Unholy Alliance (new)

R. Austin Freeman: The Red Thumb Mark (new)

Alan Melville: Weekend at Thrackley (new)

Dorothy L. Sayers: Busman's Honeymoon and Love All (plays) (both new)

Bernard Capes: The Myystery of the Skeleton Key (new)

Ruth Rendell: A Judgement in Stone (new)

P.G. Wodehouse: Thank You, Jeeves and Jeeves in the Offing (both new)
 

Iceland

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir: The Legacy (new)

 

Italy

Patricia Moyes: Dead Men Don't Ski (new)

 

France

J. Jefferson Farjeon: Seven Dead (new)

Freeman Wills Crofts: The Cask (new)

 

 

 

The "Gender Wars" Stats:

Read in 2020, to date:

Books by female authors: 69

- new: 37

- rereads: 32

 

Books by male authors: 26

- new: 25

- rereads:1

 

Books by F & M mixed teams / anthologies: 4

- new: 4

- rereads:

 

 

 

The Reading Lists:

AFRICA: 

http://booklikes.com/apps/reading-lists/974/africa

 

LATIN / SOUTH AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN: 

http://booklikes.com/apps/reading-lists/975/latin-south-america-and-caribbean

 

EAST / SOUTHEAST ASIA AND OCEANIA: 

http://booklikes.com/apps/reading-lists/981/east-southeast-asia-and-oceania

 

MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA: 

http://booklikes.com/apps/reading-lists/977/middle-east-and-central-asia

 

EASTERN AND CENTRAL EUROPE: 

http://booklikes.com/apps/reading-lists/978/eastern-and-central-europe

 

WOMEN WRITERS (global list):

http://themisathena.booklikes.com/post/1618777/women-writers-reading-list

 

 

read more »

Love All, aka Cat's Cradle: Sayers Does Drawing Room Comedy

Love All and Busman's Honeymoon: Two Plays by Dorothy L. Sayers - Dorothy L. Sayers, Alzina Stone Dale

When I bought this joint edition of Busman’s Honeymoon and Love All, the obvious pièce de résistance, for me, and the reason why I spent some time hunting down an affordable copy at all, was the stage version of Busman’s Honeymoon – the final full-length outing of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane (later transformed into a novel of the same name) and just about the last published bit from Dorothy L. Sayers’s own pen still lacking in my collection, at least as far as Lord Peter and Harriet are concerned. Love All, in comparison, looked like an also-ran – interesting, certainly, but surely no dice on the star turn of Sayers’s recently-married supersleuths?

 

Oh, ye of little faith.

 

Ostensibly, Love All (which Sayers co-wrote with her Somerville College friend Marjorie Barber, and which in an unpublished manuscript version bears the alternative title Cat’s Cradle) is a drawing room comedy, set first in Venice and later in London – but Sayers wouldn’t be Sayers if a drawing room comedy was all she had given us here. In fact, this is the theatrical expression of the thoughts also expressed in the two addresses jointly reproduced under the title Are Women Human? – that it is women’s given right as human beings to live a fully realized life, which most definitely includes the right to choose their own professional path, and the freedom not to have to place a man’s needs and demands over their own (as, however, so many of her female contemporaries had to do).

 

The play was never published in printing during Sayers’s lifetime and only had a limited stage exposure outside of London (and none at all in London itself); possibly as a result of clashing – as Sayers herself put it – on its opening night “with Mr. Hitler’s gala performance in Norway and Denmark” (i.e., the Nazis’ 1940 invasion of Norway). Another reason may have been the strictures imposed by Sayers’s son Anthony Fleming, who – jealously protective of his mother’s standing as a writer – even in this 1980s’ “resurrection” prohibited any editorial reference to Sayers’s private life or to himself, even though the play features a young boy brought up by relatives in the country while his mother is pursuing a literary career in London. And according to the play itself, he definitely had a point; the boy's mother, a successful dramatist, is observed rebutting a journalist (on the phone): “Oh, no, Mr. Mackenzie – Not the personal angle, please. No, really, what has one’s private life to do with one’s work? Well, I daresay that is the question, but I don’t want to discuss it.”

 

Whatever the reasons for the play’s having been allowed to slip into oblivion, it is a pity that this should have happened, as Love All compares favorably with other plays in a similar vein that actually have survived until today. – As the alternative title suggests, to even try and sum up the plot would be giving away major plot points, so I’m just going to end with a few of my favorite quotes: 

   “LYDIA: I thought it would be nice to marry Godfrey […] his books were so thrilling. They made me go all soppy, only he isn’t really a bit like his books.

   JANET: Authors never are. They write themselves out into their books, and the real person is just the odds-and-ends left over.”

 

   “LYDIA: And after dinner he’d read me what he’d done.

   JANET: Just so. And ask for your opinion and advice.

   […]

   LYDIA: Sometimes I tried disagreeing with something for a change.

   JANET: How did that work?

   LYDIA: Then he explained why he was right. I found that took rather too long.

   JANET: It does, rather. Has he done much scrapping and rewriting?

   LYDIA: He’s always scrapping and rewriting bits. Except the bits I disagreed with. He always kept those.”

 

   “LYDIA: Every great man has had a woman behind him.

   JANET: And every great woman has had some man or other in front of her, tripping her up.”

 

   “LYDIA: Is the next book going to be about a devoted woman who sacrificed her career for her lover?

   JANET: No, darling; that was the one he wrote just before he met you.”

 

Busman's Honeymoon: A Lethal Play, or, Sayers's Last Word on Peter and Harriet

Love All and Busman's Honeymoon: Two Plays by Dorothy L. Sayers - Dorothy L. Sayers, Alzina Stone Dale

   “PETER (frowns): You know, Harriet, this is one of those exasperatingly simple cases. I mean, it’s not like those ones where the great financier is stabbed in the library –

   HARRIET: I know! And thousands of people stampede in and out of the French window all night, armed with motives and sharp instruments –

   PETER: And the corpse turns out to be his own twin bother returned from the Fiji Islands and disguised as himself. That sort of thing is comparatively easy. But here’s a dead man in a locked house and a perfectly plain suspect, with means, motive, and opportunity, and all the evidence pat – with the trifling exception of the proof.”

Lord Peter Wimsey’s final full-length murder investigation first saw the light of day as a play – like the subsequent novel, titled Busman’s Honeymoon – co-written with Dorothy L. Sayers’s friend from her Somerville College, Muriel St. Clare Byrne. Although it enjoyed a successful run after its November 1936 Birmingham and December London 1936 premieres, the play’s success was transferred entirely onto the novel of the same name published the following year, and the playscript was never reprinted after its initial 1937 Gollancz first edition. It took another half century, the acquisition of the original manuscript and a wealth of associated papers by the Marion E. Wade Collection at Kent State University’s Wheaton College, and the express (and narrowly limited) consent by Sayers’s son Anthony Fleming for the play to be republished, along with the drawing room comedy Love All (in manuscript, alternatively titled Cat’s Cradle), which Sayers wrote together with another Somerville College friend, Marjorie Barber.

 

In the novel Busman’s Honeymoon, Sayers elaborates on the plot and the themes addressed in the play, but she remains faithful to the stage version in every respect, entire lines of dialogue are taken from there, and the play of course distills down the basic structure of the action, merging the demands of dramatic sequencing and those of a detective story scrupulously based on the fair play rule according to which, in the authors’ words, “every clue must be shown at the same time to the public and to the detective”. The detective is not to have any secret knowledge or other advantage over the audience (nor vice versa), and comparing their play’s structure to that of “a Three-part Fugue, moving contrapuntually to an ordered resolution”, the playwrights continue to explain in the authors’ note:

“It was necessary to invent a technique to express this formula, since the novelist’s approach by argument and explanation is clearly unsuited to the stage. For the First Act, in which most of the major clues are introduced, the method chosen is that of visual presentation. The clues as to Means are displayed, silently but conspicuously, down-stage, while at the same time the animated discussion of trivialities up-stage holds the ear and divides the attention of the audience. The producer’s task is thus to play, as it were, two independent tunes concurrently, concentrating upon inessentials in order to disguise, without concealing, the essentials of the plot-structure.

 

In the Second Act, the method, while still contrapuntal, is slightly varied. While the inquiry is ostensibly directed to Motive, the information actually conveyed to the audience chiefly concerns Opportunity, or the lack of it. Here, Superintendent Kirk’s unwavering canto fermo is contrasted with the freely moving descant played by Peter, who hovers continually above the action, sometimes in concord and sometimes in passing discord with the set theme. The producer may note the visual symbolism, whereby Kirk remains throughout firmly planted in his chair, while Peter wanders about the stage, darting in upon the problem from all angles.

 

In Act III, Scene 1, which for the purposes of the plot establishes Motive, the attention is held by yet another theme. This, introduced in the First Act and kept moving by occasional passages in Act II, here emerges into prominence. The human and emotional aspects of the situation, as it affects the private lives of the characters concerned, become the main source of interest. An effort is here made to do for the detective play what has already been achieved for the detective novel – that is, to combine it with the comedy of manners, and so bring it back into the main line of English dramatic tradition. In this scene, the masks are dropped all round: [along farcical-comedy and tragi-comedy lines by others and] along romantic-comedy lines by Peter and Harriet, the complete sincerity of whose emotion is the touchstone by which all the rest of the action must be tested.

 

In the final scene, both the disguised and the ostensible clues extracted from the previous scenes are presented and a fresh in a visual reconstruction to solve the problem on purely theatrical lines; and at the same time the emotional elements are brought into harmony.”

In a lengthy introduction, the book’s editor, Alzina Stone Dale, elaborates on the genesis and various birthing stages of the play, and the book’s no less than four appendices reproduce significant additional materials; including the authors’ stern warning to producers as to the truly lethal risks of the murder method employed here, coupled with several-pages-long minute instructions how Peter’s reconstruction of the crime at the end of the play should be faked, so as to avoid actually endangering anyone on stage (first and foremost the actor playing the murderer, who ends up caught in and unmasked by his own trap in the reconstruction).

 

Another appendix reproduces Sayers’s handwritten notes on the major characters:

“PETER will be 45 next birthday; & though his small bones, whippy figure & fair colouring give him a deceptive appearance of youth, his face, in its rare moments of repose is beginning to show the marks set there by time & experience. At first sight one would say that the lines of brow & chin ran back rather alarmingly; but this, too, is largely an illusion, due to the dominance of the high, beaked nose which is, one feels, a tradition handed down from the Norman Conquest or thereabouts & somewhat exaggerated in the transmission. The steadiness of the grey eyes & long, humorous mouth is reassuring, & there is certainly no lack of physical health or vitality; yet the acuteness of the facial angle, the silvery pallor of hair & skin, the slight droop of the eyelids, the sensitive and restless hands, & above all a certain nervous tautness of gesture & carriage – these signs perhaps convey a warning that the family blood will not stand very much more this kind of thing, & that in marrying a commoner he has shown no more than a proper consideration for posterity. His social poise is inborn; but his emotional balance appears to be rather a matter of discipline applied partly from within & partly by training and circumstance; his outbursts of inconsequent gaiety are the compensation for the exercise of a rigid control in other directions. A natural sweetness of disposition, allied to a freakish sense of humour & assisted by a highly-civilized upbringing, makes him easy enough to get on with, but to get within his guard is difficult. The light, high, over-bred voice is his own; but the drawl, like the monocle, is part of the comedian’s make-up which he can & does put off when he is in earnest. […] Nor does he hold any surprises for Bunter, who has known him from his teeth to his toe-nails for twenty years. How far Bunter has it in him to surprise Peter is a matter for infinite conjecture.

 

[…]

 

HARRIET is 30 years old, tall, strongly-made & vigorous in speech, movement & colouring. She has dark hair & eyes & a skin like honey; her face has more character than beauty, but the older she grows the handsomer she will become. […] Past unhappiness has matured but not tamed her; she has not learnt, & never will learn, self-discipline as Peter has learnt it. What she has got & what he loves her for, is an immense intellectual sincerity. She will commit endless errors of judgment & hold to them in the face of any emotional attack; but if her reason can be persuaded, she will admit the error freely & without rancor. It is evident that she will never be happy unless her passions & her reason can march side by side; & she is lucky to have found a man honest and unselfish enough to refrain from using her heart as a weapon against her conscience. Indeed, in this respect he is the more vulnerable, & it is her honesty that will prevent him from turning the same weapon against himself. The fact that they both have the same educational background is probably a considerable factor in the establishment of a common understanding; & though you might think that they are the last people who should ever have married one another, Oxford will in the end be justified of her children.”

 The 1980s' version of Harriet and Peter: Harriet Walter and Edward Petherbridge -- in the small screen adaptation of Gaudy Night

   HARRIET: Oh, my dear: What is happening to us? What has become of our peace?

   PETER: Broken! That’s what violence does. Once it starts, it catches us all – sooner or later.

   HARRIET: Is there no escape?

   PETER: Only by running away … (Pause) … Perhaps it might be better for us to run. If I finish this job, someone is going to hang. I have no right to drag you into this mess … Oh, my dear, don’t upset yourself so. (He goes up to her.) If you say the word, we will go right away. We’ll leave the whole damnable business ... and never meddle again.

   HARRIET: Do you really mean that?

   PETER: Of course I mean it. I have said so. (His tone is that of a beaten man. He crosses and sits on arm of chair by table L.)

   HARRIET: Peter, you are mad. Never dare to suggest such a thing. Whatever marriage is, it isn’t that.

   PETER: Isn’t what, Harriet?

   HARRIET: Letting your affection corrupt your judgment. What kind of life could we have if I knew that you had become less than yourself by marrying me?

   PETER: My dear girl, most women would consider it a triumph.

   HARRIET: I know. (Gets up and comes down-stage.) I’ve heard them. ‘My husband would do anything for me.’ … It’s degrading. No human being ought to have such power over another.

   PETER: It’s a very real power, Harriet.

   HARRIET (decidedly): Then we won’t use it. If we disagree, we’ll fight it out like gentlemen. But we won’t stand for matrimonial blackmail.”

Busman’s Honeymoon, Act III, Scene 1

I just love that dialogue (which is contained both in the play and in the novel). It’s what epitomizes Peter and Harriet to me – and it just might explain, too, why Sayers didn’t finish a single further novel featuring them but, rather, only gave us glimpses at their married life in a couple of short stories. Because really, what else is there left to be said after this?

 

 

Dennis Arundell and Veronica Turleigh, who played Peter and Harriet in the 1936-1937 theatrical run of Busman’s Honeymoon (images from IMDb)

Good news

So far Booklikes has run very fast for me today, which made me suspicious. So I tried to check up on the domain and due to certain circumstances, I ended up on another page than the one Themis-Athena has mentioned previously.

 

The good news is, double checked by Themis-Athena and found on at least two different sites:

 

 

[Source]

 

Reblogged from Lillelara

Please do me a favor

If you are still active on BL and if you are in our backup GR group, please head over there and post in the new thread, titled "Please check in!"

 

I am trying to get a head count together and make sure that I have exchanged current contact information for anyone who wants to keep in touch.

Reblogged from Moonlight Reader

Dickon

The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey, Derek Jacobi The Daughter Of Time - Josephine Tey Dickon - Gordon Daviot, Josephine Tey

This weekend's "let's-forget-the-pandemic" buddy read wasn't the first time I read Josephine Tey's setting-the-record-straight-about-Richard III novel, The Daughter of Time, but it was the first time that I did so by reading it together with her play on the same subject (written under the name Gordon Daviot), Dickon, and that combined reading changed my perspective on the novel yet again: not significantly, but in what I see as Tey's impetus in writing it.

 

To begin with, maybe I should call Dickon "her other play" on the subject, as I think Sorry kids, no feet nailed it when she said in a comment on one of Tannat's status updates that The Daughter of Time "read(s) like a play without actually being a play".  It actually is a play, with only one stage setting -- Grant's hotel room --, deliberately confining him (who becomes the audience's voice and brain) to that setting, depriving him of any and all other, and perhaps more conventional forms of entertainment right in the first chapter -- not without a few wry sidelines on the state of the literary art and industry of the day --, and thus neatly focusing his, and hence the reader's, attention on that one single thing remaining and apt enough to tease his brain: an investigation into an unsolved mystery of the past.  And of course, that hoary old chestnut, the fate of "the Princes in the Tower", will never do -- the investigation soon takes a completely different direction when Grant decides (very much like Ms. Tey herself, obviously) that Richard III's face and his reputation simply don't synch, and just how his name ended up on the list of history's greatest villains must thus urgently be looked into (and set right).

 

Dubious, overrated, and dated starting point ("face reading") aside, the real importance of Tey's book lies, of course, in the profound shattering of the reputation that Richard III had had until then, ever since he lost his life at Bosworth and the Tudors had the control of what history would eventually make of the reign of the last York Plantagenet king.  There had been previous attempts to set the record straight both in the 18th and the 19th century, but it arguably took Tey's deliberate choice of presenting the issue in the guise of a (well-researched) mass-marketed novel, in tandem with a stage play, to bring so much public attention to the matter that even well-known historic scholars could no longer ignore it -- and the debate has been alive and well ever since.  (Even the presentation at the Bosworth visitor center is now painstakingly neutral in its overall approach, though some of the exhibit's texts still clearly betray an anti-Ricardian bias.)

 

In The Daughter of Time, Tey presents the Tudors' campaign of blackening Richard III's name as only one, though a particularly grivous example of what she calls Tonypandy, for the town that was the focal point of the 1910-11 Welsh Miners' strike, and which has since become a subject of a similarly furious historic dispute: to Tey, "Tonypandy" is a summary term signifying any and all instances of falsified historic and political propaganda.  Yet, as her play Dickon shows, it's ultimately not "Tonypandy" at large that she is interested in but very much Richard III himself, in whom (and in whose features) she takes an enormous interest, reflected in Grant's comments and thoughts on his portrait in The Daughter of Time, as much as in her own passionate advocacy, both in the play and in the novel.

 

In fact, the play neatly distills the "Dickon" content of the novel down to its essentials and presents the events in question in their own, proper historical setting; refuting -- scene by scene -- Shakespeare's portrayal of the same events in his Richard III (or Tudor propaganda Exhibit A, as Tey saw it). And in one, perhaps the most endearing scene of the play, she has her Richard III do exactly what she expected of historians, and what Grant's American "woolly lamb" research assistant does in the novel: Tease out the minutiae of daily life from the records left behind; obtain your information straight from the source, instead of relying on hearsay accounts written only after the fact.  "All the stuff of Middleham is here.  All that I have missed", Richard tells his wife Anne when she wonders how he can possibly be so fascinated with their Yorkshire home's account books, even though she faithfully reports on everything that is going on while he is in London with his brother, the King.  "But you don't tell me that Betsy has been shod, that there is a new lock on the little east gate, that the dairy window was broken, that Kemp has had a boil on his neck," he answers.  "That is Middleham.  If I cannot live it, I can at least look at the picture." 

 

Some of the things that Tey considered Tudor propaganda have since been proven true; e.g., the discovery of Richard III's skeleton in that infamous Leicester parking lot has revealed that he really did have a spinal deformity and would thus have presented as a hunchback -- so the Tudors didn't need to lie about everything; they could also exploit features that their contemporaries would have been familiar with.  And other things, we will probably never know -- personally I doubt whether, even if the remains of the "Princes in the Tower" were now found, too (against all odds), centuries after their disappearance, that discovery would do much to clarify who engineered their disappearance and apparent murder (unless other instances would throw additional light on the issue at the same time).  But ultimately this is about more than the fates of Edward IV's sons; it's about truth in the historical record, about unbiased research, and about the value of primary (= direct) vs. secondary (= indirect) evidence / hearsay.

 

And whereas a reader interested in the period now may come to her (play-disguised-as-a-)novel (and her (other) play) with quite a different perspective on Richard III, his victorious rival Henry VII, and the period as such, the splash that her writing made upon its first publication can still be heard to this day.  For that in and of itself, her decision to take the issue out of the academic debate and into the realm of popular fiction can't be applauded loudly enough.

 


Bosworth: the battlefield today.

 


The Leicester parking lot where Richard III's remains were found.

 


Commemorative / explanatory plaque on a wall near the parking lot gates ...

 


... and an out-take of the above image: Richard III's skeleton



The parking lot is down a narrow alley from Leiceseter Cathedral

 


The Tomb in Leicester Cathedral



The gold-decorated chancel of Leicester Cathedral right behind the altar, where Richard's tomb is located

 


The coffin in which Richard's bones were carried into the cathedral for reburial (the cloth is hand-embroidered)

 

Tower of London: The round building center/left is the Bloody Tower, where King Edward IV's sons, today known simply as "the Princes in the Tower," are believed to have been held.

 

  
Bloody Tower: Exhibition on the disappearance of "the Princes in the Tower."

(All photos mine.)

 

Reading progress update: I've read 8%.

Ask a Policeman - Helen Simpson, The Detection Club, Milward Kennedy, John Rhode, Anthony Berkeley, Gladys Mitchell, Dorothy L. Sayers

"The murder -- if it was murder -- of a man like Lord Comstock was an event of world-wide importance.  The newspapers controlled by the millionaire journalist exerted an influence out of all proportion to their real value. Inspired by Comstock himself, they claimed at frequent intervals to be the real arbiters of the nation's destiny at home and abroad.  Governments might come and go, each with its own considered policy.  The Comstock Press patronized, ignored, or attacked them, as suited Lord Comstock's whim at the moment.  His policy was fixed and invariable.

 

This may seem an astounding statement to those who remember how swiftly and how frequently the Daily Bugle changed its editorial opinions.  But Lord Comstock's policy was not concerned with the welfare of the State, or of anyone else but himself, for that matter.  It was devoted with unswerving purpose to one single aim, the increase in value of his advertisement pages.  The surest way to do this was to increase circulation, to bamboozle the public into buying the organs of the Comstock Press.  And nobody knew better than Lord Comstock that the surest way of luring the public was by a stunt, the more extravagant the better.

 

Stunts therefore followed one another with bewildering rapidity.  Of those running at the moment, two had attracted special attention.  To be successful, stunts must attack something or somebody, preferably so well established that it or he has become part of the ordinary person's accepted scheme of things. [...]

 

One antagonist at a time, even so formidable an antagonist as Christianity, could not satisfy the restless spirit of Lord Comstock.  He sought another and found it in the Metropolitan Police, his choice being influenced mainly by the implicit faith which that institution most justly inspired.  Scotland Yard was the principal object of the invective of the Comstock Press.  It was inefficient, ill-conducted, and corrupt.  It must be reformed, root and branch.  The crime experts of the Comstock Press, men who knew how to use their brains, were worth the whole of the C.I.D. and its elaborate machinery, which imposed so heavy and useless a burden upon the tax-payer.

 

Now and then it happened that a crime was committed, and no arrest followed.  This was the opportunity of the Comstock Press.  Without the slightest regard for the merits of the case, and safe in the knowledge that a Government Department cannot reply, the Daily Bugle, and its evening contemporary, the Evening Clarion, unloosed a flood of vituperation upon the C.I.D., from the Assistant Commissioner himself to his humblest subordinate. [...]

 

In fact, the shadow of Lord Comstock lay heavily on both men, as they sat in the oppressive warmth of the June afternoon.  It was as though his invisible presence lurked in the corner of the room, masterful, contemptuous, poisoning the air with the taint of falsehood."

Plus ça change ... Replace "Comstock" by "Murdoch" and "Scotland Yard" by "the NHS" or "the criminal justice system", and you could still write the same words, every last one of them, today.

Snakes and Ladders, 2020 Edition - TA's Master Tracking Post: DONE!

Sweet Danger - Margery Allingham, Franis Matthews A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent - Marie Brennan, Kate Reading The Patient Man - Joy Ellis, Richard Armitage A Morbid Taste for Bones - Ellis Peters, Stephen Thorne Scales of Justice - Ngaio Marsh, Philip Franks True Grit - Charles Portis, Donna Tartt Indemnity Only - Sara Paretsky, Susan Ericksen Lost Hills - Lee Goldberg, Nicol Zanzarella Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader - Anne Fadiman, Suzanne Toren Broken Ground - Val McDermid, Cathleen McCarron


Tracking courtesy of Charlie and Sunny, as always, of course!

 

 

 SPACES AND DICE ROLLS

 

1. Author is a woman -- Patricia Wentworth: Pilgrim's Rest (finished April 1, 2020)

 

 

2. Genre: mystery

3. Set in the twentieth century

4. Published in 2019

5. Published in 2018

6. Title has a color word in it

7. Author's last name begins with the letters A, B, C, or D -- Margery Allingham: Sweet Danger (finished April 2, 2020)

 

 

 

8. Author's last name begins with the letters E, F, G, or H.

9. Author's last name begins with the letters H, I, J, or K

10. Author's last name begins with the letters L, M, N or O

11. Author's last name begins with the letters P, Q, R, or S

12. Author's last name begins with the letters T, U, V, W, X, Y, or Z

13. Author is a man

14. Author is dead

15. Genre: romance

16. Genre: fantasy -- Marie Brennan: A Natural History of Dragons (finished April 6, 2020)

 

 

 

17. Genre: horror

18. Set in a school

19. Set in the UK

20. Set in a country that is not your country of residence

21. Set in Europe -- Joy Ellis: The Patient Man (finished April 7, 2020)

 

 

22. Set in Asia

23. Set in Australia/Oceania

24. Set in Africa

25. Snake - go back to 5

26. Part of a series that is more than 5 books long

27. Set during WWI or WWII

28. Written between 1900 and 1999

29. Someone travels by plane

30. Someone travels by train

31. Road trip -- Ellis Peters: A Morbid Taste for Bones (finished April 8, 2020)

 

 

32. Genre: thriller

33. Set in North America

34. Snake - go back to 1

35. Has been adapted as a movie

36. Set in Central or South America

37. Has won an award

38. Newest release by a favorite author

39. A reread -- Ngaio Marsh: Enter a Murderer (finished April 9, 2020)

 

 

40. Characters involved in the entertainment industry

41. Characters involved in politics

42. Characters involved in sports/sports industry

43. Characters involved in the law

44. Characters involved in cooking/baking

43. Characters involved in medicine

44. Characters involved in science/technology

45. A book that has been on your tbr for more than one year

46. A book that has been on your tbr for more than two years

47. Snake - go back to 19

48. A book you acquired in February, 2019.

49. Recommended by a friend -- Ngaio Marsh: A Man Lay Dead, plus Death on the Air and Other Stories (both books finished April 10, 2020)

(Rereading the first Roderick Alleyn mystery in honor of the friend who introduced me to them many years ago. -- ETA: Tagged on Marsh's short stories when I noticed that the audio of A Man Lay Dead runs just short of 5 hours 30 minutes.)

 

 

 

50. Has a domestic animal on the cover

51. Has a wild animal on the cover

52. Has a tree or flower on the cover

53. Has something that can be used as a weapon on the cover -- Ngaio Marsh: Scales of Justice (finished April 11, 2020)

(I used the present weekend buddy read for this one, as my print edition has fishing tackle on its cover -- hook, line and all.)

 

 

 

54. Is more than 400 pages long

55. Is more than 500 pages long

56. Was published more than 100 years ago

57. Was published more than 50 years ago

58. Was published more than 25 years ago

59. Was published more than 10 years ago

60. Was published last year

61. Cover is more than 50% red -- Anne Perry: Defend and Betray (finished April 16, 2020)

(Go figure, I could have used the audio version of Scales of Justice fo rthis one as well ...)

 

 

62. Cover is more than 50% green

63. Cover is more than 50% blue

64. Cover is more than 50% yellow

65. Snake - go back to 52

66. Part of a series that is more than 10 books long -- Ngaio Marsh: When in Rome (finished April 17, 2020)

(Nothing like Alleyn in Italy as a palate cleanser after the train wreck that Perry's book turned out ot be.)

 

 

67. Set in a city with a population of greater than 5 million people (link)

68. Something related to weddings on the cover

69. Something related to travel on the cover

70. Something related to fall/autumn on the cover

71. Involves the beach/ocean/lake 

72. Involves the mountains/forests -- Charles Portis: True Grit (finished April 18, 2020)

(I checked -- their trip takes them through the mountains, at least part of the way.)

 

 

73. Categorized as YA

74. Categorized as Middle Grade

75. Set in a fantasy world

76. Set in a world with magic

77. Has a "food" word in the title

78. Set in a small town (fictional or real)

79. Main character is a woman -- Sara Paretsky: Indemnity Only (finished April 21, 2020)

(Somehow I never got around to the first V.I.  Warshawski novel.  Now just may be the moment to make up for that.)

 

 

80. Main character is a man

81. Ghost story

82. Genre: urban fantasy

83. Genre: cozy mystery

84. Genre: police procedural -- Lee Goldberg: Lost Hills (finished April 22, 2020)

 

 

85. Written by an author who has published more than 10 books

86. Author's debut book

87. Snake - go back to 57

88. Comic/graphic novel

89. Published between 2000 and 2017

90. A new-to-you author

91. Snake - go back to 61

92. Reread of a childhood favorite

93. Author's first/last initial same as yours (real or BL handle)

94. Non-fiction

95. Memoir -- Anne Fadiman: Confessions of a Common Reader (finished April 22, 2020)

and Rafik Schami: Murmeln meiner Kindheit (My Childhood's Marbles) (finished April 23, 2020) (since Fadiman's book falls just a bit short of the game's minimum requirements).

 

 

96. From your favorite genre

97. Title starts with any of the letters in SNAKE

98. Title starts with any of the letters in LADDERS

99. Snake - go back to 69

100. Let BL pick it for you: post 4 choices and read the one that gets the most votes!

Poll posted separately -- BL community pick:

Val McDermid: Broken Ground (finished April 27, 2020).

 

 

RULES OF THE GAME:

 Everyone starts on 1. There are two alternative ways to move forward.

 

1. Read a book that fits the description on the space number as listed below and you can roll two dice to move forward more quickly.

 

2. However, if you can't find a book to fit the square, don't worry about it. You can read any book, and roll one dice on random.org.  This is to ensure that if a reader cannot find a book to fill the square, no one gets bogged down and can't move on.

 

All books must be at least 200 pages long. Short stories count, so long as you read enough of them from a collection to equal 200 pages. 

 

You do not need to hit space 100 with an exact roll. In order to win, you must complete space 100 as written.

 

ADDITIONS TO THE RULES

When you start on square 1, you need to read a book before you can roll. If your book fills the square, you get to roll two dice. If your book doesn't not fit the square, roll one dice only.

 

With respect to the ladder squares: You must read a book in order to climb the ladder. Once you finish the book for the ladder square, climb the ladder to the ending square. If you read a book that fits the ending square, roll two dice to move on, otherwise, roll one dice.

 

For audiobook substitutions, either check the print book to determine if it is more than 200 pages long, or any audiobook that is a minimum of 5 hours & 30 minutes qualifies.

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

Broken Ground - Val McDermid, Cathleen McCarron Broken Ground - Val McDermid

So what happened at the end there, Val?  Why that infernal rush?  Did you suddenly become aware that you were on your way towards producing a minor brick, or did your publisher tell you to cut it short?  There we were, sailing nicely along in the usual 4-stars-or-higher bracket into which this series typically falls for me, and then you first give us an arrest that couldn't be a greater possible anticlimax, taking into account all that's at stake there, and, literally as an aside, almost everything else that had been threatening to come crashing down on Karen's head is tied up super-squeaky-clean in no more than a few puny words as well??  Fie.

 

Also -- and I do realize this one is down to me, but nevertheless it does add to my aggravation -- can we please be done with Karen's new superior officer sooner rather than later?  I've had my own share of run-ins with this type of person way beyond anything I'm willing to take anymore (it also doesn't help that I've recently seen -- and am currently seeing again -- shenanigans of a different, but equally infuriating kind); so the prospect that of all Karen's problems that were still unresolved in the next-to-last chapter, this of all things is the one issue remaining unresolved, makes me not particularly rush to get the next book, whenever it's going to be published.  I seriously do NOT want to meet this person again.  And unlike poor Karen, I have the freedom to opt out here; which I may very well end up doing, unless someone tells me that the supervisor in question is getting her long-overdue comeuppance and Karen is rid of her by the end of the next book at the very latest.

 

Finally, just curious: What's your fascination with dead bodies surfacing from the depth of a peat bog?  This has to be at least the second, if not third book where that sort of thing is happening ...

#StayatHome blossoms -- this is the view from my balcony and kitchen window at the moment.
#StayatHome blossoms -- this is the view from my balcony and kitchen window at the moment.
And by way of a bonus image, a pair of ducks (visitors from the banks of the Rhine, which is just a few 100 metres from my home) that were making a ruckus round about the front hedge while I was taking the other photo.  At first I thought they might be courting, but it turned out they were chasing away another male -- either a competitor for food for for the lady's attentions!
And by way of a bonus image, a pair of ducks (visitors from the banks of the Rhine, which is just a few 100 metres from my home) that were making a ruckus round about the front hedge while I was taking the other photo. At first I thought they might be courting, but it turned out they were chasing away another male -- either a competitor for food for for the lady's attentions!
SPOILER ALERT!

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

Tenant for Death - Cyril Hare

Well, it turns out RL kept me busy for much longer yesterday than I'd anticipated, so I really only got back to this book today.

 

That said, I truly enjoyed it -- even the fact that the murderer turned out to be the most obvious suspect, in the end, didn't bother me half as much as it had in An English Murder

I also like the fact that Hare lets the murderer choose his own destiny -- he is a likeable enough person; and clearly, though his motive doesn't justify taking the law into his own hands, it is more than understandable, and arguably the victim was actually by far the greater villain.

(show spoiler)

The more books I read by Hare, the more I find I'm coming to him less for a fiendishly-constructed mystery -- none of the three books I've read so far was exactly that -- but for his wry humor and incisive observation of people and society.  As for Mike, his technique of cutting from one scene to another, chapter by chapter, works well for me; much better than a linear narrative.  I (too) could have done with some of the two investigators' speculations on motive, means and opportunity -- particularly at a moment where, as a reader, you had to have been sleepwalking through the book not to have clued in to the solution, at least in its very broad outlines -- but by and large, this was yet another enjoyable read, and I'm definitely looking forward to continuing to explore Hare's fiction.

Reading progress update: I've read 41 out of 206 pages.

Tenant for Death - Cyril Hare

Aaand we're off to our next forget-the-pandemic weekend read!  A corpse has been discovered as a surplus-to-inventory item, and the arrival of Inspector Mallett is imminent.

 

If I didn't know otherwise, I'd never believe that this was Hare's first published book -- the writing is incredibly assured and has the same gently mocking tone as in the two other books by Hare I've read so far.  No wonder he would later (in Tragedy at Law) introduce a character like Francis Pettigrew -- having met Mr. Pettigrew in that book, Hare's narrative tone in all of his books makes me think I might at least have caught a glimpse of the author himself there, though he'd probably be the first to (rightly) protest that one should beware of equating the (any) author with one of their characters.

 

RL will be interfering with my reading pleasure for the next several hours, but I'm hoping to be back and joining the good inspector soon!