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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 7:49 am    Post subject: Phil Rickman  Reply with quote

I am slowly working my way through Phil Rickman's series of books featuring Merrily Watkins, an Anglican vicar who works, somewhat reluctantly, as the diocesan exorcist.  Based in Worcestershire, they are wonderful both as depictions of life in an English rural setting, and as mild thrillers with a supernatural twist.  They are far from pious - Merrily is a great character, a widowed mother of a lovable but infuriating teenage daughter, and the cast of characters generally is good, including the very lovely Lol Robinson, a former folk-rock musician (lover of Nick Drake's music), now a bit damaged, but there is chemistry between him and Merrily.  The supernatural element and sharpness of some of the characters and the writing prevents it from being Vicar of Dibley meets Midsomer Murders, in case it sounds a bit like that.

I am a bit alarmed to see that they are going out of print - the next two in the series are currently unavailable, and hence even secondhand copies are expensive - so I am having to skip those and go on to the next one, which I have chosen as my Christmas read, definitely curl-up-with-box-of-chocolates sort of books.

I know Klara is a fan - any others out there?  I keep hoping someone will make them into a TV series, they would be great.


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Klara Z



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 173


Location: London

PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Evie---yes, I am indeed a Phil Rickman fan, in fact I've begun re-reading some of my favourites. He's written an excellent book giving the background to the series (the topography, the folklore of Herefordshire, Nick Drake etc.) that was published this year 'Merrily's Border'.

Have you visited Phil Rickman's website? Apparently there's even a CD that accompanies the books, 'Song's From Lucy's Cottage', ( i.e Lol's music. )
I, too, would love to see these books adapted sensitively for TV.  

Any other Phil Rickman fans out there? Please join us!


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2009 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am now engrossed in The Remains of an Altar - perfect antidote to Christmas - or complement to the season while being an antidote to the actual experience!  Just the right touches of supernaturalism for me.

I find his books so hard to put down - ghost-story-cum-thriller, in a rural setting, with a Nick Drake enthusiast as one of the main characters, all just so hard to resist!  A blissful morning so far, and I plan to spend as much of the day as I can with Merrily Watkins and co.


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blackberrycottage



Joined: 23 Nov 2008
Posts: 240


Location: Barnsley Yorkshire

PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phil Rickman lover here too! They were heavily recommended to me after the first couple of books, and I did struggle with the opening of the first one, with the wassailing of apple trees. You can buy T shirts as well with Gomer Parry plant hire on, among other lines.

I believe they were being optioned for TV, but the Martin Shaw priest programme was preferred.


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent, blackberrycottage!  I still like the first one best - not sure if it's simply because it was the first one I read, but I did like all the stuff about the orchard, and about the rectory.  Am thoroughly enjoying my current one (think it's the 8th...but haven't checked!).


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blackberrycottage



Joined: 23 Nov 2008
Posts: 240


Location: Barnsley Yorkshire

PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I struggled with the Elgar one, I don't know if I was trying to read it too quickly, but I loved the Garway one, and the one with the Boy Bishops and unctious politicians. I could do with reading them again from the beginning. Sometimes I think they could do with a glossary or more explanation of local customs. I love the idea of Merrily's Border - it begs someone to come up with all inclusive holidays driving you from site to site. I don't drive so that's where the chauffeur comes in. And you may as well have some good Herefordshire cider and Three Choirs Wine....even more call for the designated driver.

I would bet that Phil Rickman has increased interest in the music and visiting of Nick Drake's grave traffic too. I am sure I am not the only one who was screaming for Merrily and Lol to get it together, and who cried when Minnie died.


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Melony



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 364



PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pardon my ignorance, who is Nick Drake?


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nick Drake was a wonderful singer in the late 1960s and eary 1970s - a bit folky, though he wrote his own material - acoustic, mostly with just a guitar.  He died very young (26) of a drugs overdose - I think it's never been ascertained whether it was deliberate or not; the drugs he took were prescribed anti-depressants, and I think it is generally assumed that he took his own life.  His songs and his voice are sublime - if you have itunes or some other MP3 access on your computer, try listening to a bit of his album Five Leaves Left - one of my top five albums of all time - achingly beautiful songs, sung with an achingly beautiful voice, just amazing.  

He had little commercial success during his life, but has become a hugely respected figure by other singers, and his few records now sell very well.  His songs tend to be a bit melancholic, but are fab, definitely recommend having a listen if you can!

His sister Gabrielle Drake is a reasonably well known actress on television over here, though I haven't seen her in anything for years.


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Klara Z



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 173


Location: London

PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tagging on here as another Nick Drake fan (as Evie says, the Nick Drake connections in the novels re. the character of Lol are very resonant)--I'v recently bought the Nick  Drake  album 'Family Tree' after reading about it in Phil Rickman's book, 'Merrily's Borders' .  'Family tree' is a lovely and poignant album, consisting of home recordings made by Nick Drake, his mother and his sister, and includes Gabrielle and Nick giving  a rendition of 'All My trials'. The best introduction to Nick Drake is probably the album 'Way to Blue; the best of Nick Drake' and there are several excellent biographies, describing his short, tragic but superbly creative life.


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, Family Tree is lovely.

I am going to a concert at Warwick Arts Centre on 23 January where Vashti Bunyan and others are going to sing the songs of Nick Drake - am really looking forward to it, but, as with Bob Dylan, no one can sing Nick Drake like Nick Drake!


As for Phil Rickman's books - I am three-quarters of the way through Remains of an Altar and finding it hard to put down, as usual.  Have just had a blissful half hour in the bath with it!



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