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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
Posts: 2108


Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:19 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

That show's coming to Brighton too, Evie.

The Family Album sounds interesting. I saw a documentary about Nick Drake some years back, called "A Skin Too Few", which featured some of the home recordings and a recording of one of his mother's songs (for piano and voice). It was striking how similar it was to Nick's own work (modal, melancholic and folky). If anyone gets the chance to see the documentary, I would definitely recommend it.



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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have now finished The Remains of an Altar, the 8th (I think) in the Merrily Watkins series.

Set in and around the Malvern hills, with supposed sightings of the ghost of Edward Elgar on his bicycle (Mr Phoebus), causing traffic accidents and other mayhem, this follows the same pattern as the others.  While Merrily is trying to sort out what is happening in the village of Wychehill, where the ghost appears to be doing most of his haunting, her 17-year-old daughter Jane is investigating what she thinks is a ley (not a ley line, as she is quick to point out!), inspired by a book by Alfred Watkins (a real person, contemporary with Elgar) - and the two stories ultimately, and inevitably, combine.  Holding Merrily and her daughter together, amazingly, is the troubled but very lovely musician Lol Robinson (because of hideous textspeak, I kept reading his name in my head as l-o-l rather than the word Lol...very irritating!  I do *hate* those acronyms people use!).  All a complete load of hokum, and a completely unrealistic relationship between Merrily and her daughter, and some shockingly bad writing (everything spelled out, clearly not expecting his readers to know *anything*, and that awful habit of ending every chapter on some kind of portentous note or cliffhanger).

Yet they are very addictive, and I find them very difficult to put down.  I think it's partly, as Klara has said, that the world he creates is so appealing; the Herefordshire/Worcestershire/Welsh border region beautifully evoked, the village of Ledwardine unsentimental yet picturesque, the mixture of pagan folklore and Christianity, the flawed but lovable characters - all of this wins me over and works against my literary prejudices.  They are thrillers rather than detective stories, and quite graphic at times in terms of violence and even horror, all set against the superficially sleepy backdrop of English village life and the influence of the Cathedral precinct (not so much in evidence here, but the diocesan secretary, Sophie, is never far away!).  It is a heady mixture, and perfect for that post-Christmas need for undemanding but absorbing pleasure that seems to hit me every year.

I need volumes 6 and 7, which are out of print and only available if I am prepared to pay around £25 (which I am not!), so I will be hunting the library catalogue and secondhand shops for those.


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blackberrycottage



Joined: 23 Nov 2008
Posts: 240


Location: Barnsley Yorkshire

PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Evie, appararently a new publisher is taking over again, so hopefully they will be repackaged and republished.


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, that's good news - thanks!


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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Evie wrote:
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.

Highly recommended and I am so pleased there there are another seven to read in the Merrily series. As I enjoy Elgar's music this one gave me additional pleasure - one of those informative novels which could prompt me to read the biography of the real person depicted.


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They are great fun - I think that's one of my favourites, because of the Elgar ghost element, but I have loved them all.  Still 2 or 3 to read - still out of print, as far as I can see, but now there are cheaper ones available secondhand, so will see what I can find!  Glad you enjoyed it, Castorboy.  Would love a TV series of them.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2997


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I see there's a decent number of these in my library, and have put him on my list of 'to read' books.  You've all made him sound fun and entertaining.


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KlaraZ



Joined: 29 Jun 2010
Posts: 193



PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like Evie, I'd love to see a TV series of the Merrily Watkins books, and I wish we could lobby the BBC about it---similiarly, I'd love to  see C.J. Sansom's Matthew Shardlake  books on screen. But I do fear the whims of casting directors, always wanting to put someone 'famous' in and then choosing the wrong person. Years ago, I enjoyed the Marjorie Allingham adaptations, but, oh dear, Peter Davison just wasn't my idea of Albert Campion.

So---who should play Lol and Merrily, I wonder?


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They were going to make the Shardlake books with Kenneth Branagh as Shardlake - and he then got caught up making Wallander, and the project was shelved, sadly.

I would like to see James D'Arcy as Lol...still can't decide who I would want as Merrily.  Maybe Helen McCrory, though she is slightly too old.


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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 1798


Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Crybbe is a town on the Welsh Border where strange things happen. The inhabitants are sunk into a general apathy, uninterested in any newcomers who try to become friendly. The hostility is palpable when the millionaire pop music tycoon Max Goff buys the Elizabethan manor house Crybbe Court. He wants to convert it into a centre for experiments with psychic energy based on a possible ley-line.
Other newcomers are Fay Morrison a radio reporter, her retired father the philandering Canon Alex Peters who hands out more than homilies and Colonel Colin Croston ex-SAS and deputy mayor. In their efforts to find out the source of the evil in the town they find themselves opposed by the Preece famliy – Jimmy the mayor, Jack his son who rings the nightly curfew bell and the two grandsons Jonathon who runs the farm and the hippy-lazy Warren who has ambitions to be a rock star. Add in Warren's teenage friend, the manipulative Tessa Byford and wait for the tensions to explode in a battle of temperaments and weapons, verbal and actual. Talk about firing off in all directions – there are discoveries of lively bodies but these are outnumbered by the appearances of very dead ones!

Having recently finished The Remains of an Altar, I noticed the references to Alfred Watkins and The Old Straight Track, the SAS in Hereford and possible ley-lines while once again Gomer Parry featured at crucial moments. Crybbe is more far-fetched with its elements of horror and supernatural events buiding up to a tremendous climax.



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