Reviews of two very different novels and a murder mystery play by Francis Durbridge
I posted both book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads
Our Spoons Came From Woolworths
by Barbara Comyns
I read this as a paperback passed on to me and recommended. I had not heard of the author before.
Many of us love anything to do with the twenties and thirties; architecture, art, music and elegant young men and women capture wistfully the two decades between world wars. But we also know it wasn’t glamorous for most and for the British it was a time our parents and grandparents remember before the Welfare State and the birth of the National Health Service.
Sophia is young and naive and the novel is probably very close to the author’s own life. I love the way she tells us her story as if she was looking back and telling a friend, which indeed she does at the end. The book was published in 1950.
We have a vivid picture of life with very little money, renting rooms and sharing bathrooms. From details of what they eat to the realities of pregnancy and childbirth which will appall most women. Ironically it was also a time when new mothers who were able to afford a nice nursing home would have enjoyed two weeks of bed rest – unheard of these days! Love and poverty never go well together and being married to an artist who is never going to earn proper money is a recipe for disaster. Follow Sophia in a poignant story that has humour, very dark times and then hope.
Secrets by Anita Dawes
20 August 2018
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I finished reading this in the middle of last night; though it is not unusual for me to turn my Kindle on in the early hours, this is not the sort of novel you should be reading in the dark watches of the night! It is a good paranormal thriller, but more than that it will make you reconsider all our childhoods. How responsible are children for what they do and what is really going on in their minds? In some ways I felt most sorry for Jack’s parents, a poignant back story gradually revealed, an event that ruined any chance of his father continuing the life he loved or his mother coming to accept their rural life. There is a lot going on in everyone’s lives, but Jackie is a reminder that those of us who have led ordinary lives cannot know what others have had to overcome. There were only a few things that jarred – I thought it was likely the social services would have got involved, Maggie did not guess an obvious pointer as Jack’s story was revealed and some dialogue and characters’ thoughts could be confusing in the pace of the story. But overall I really enjoyed this unusual novel.
SHELLEY THEATRE, BOSCOMBE.
Francis Durbridge’s play Suddenly At Home
Thursday-Tuesday August 16-21
Durbridge won international acclaim as the creator of Paul Temple, one of the most famous of all BBC radio detectives. He also wrote nine stage plays, Suddenly At Home was first performed in 1971.
Percy Florence Shelley was the son of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 -1822) and Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.
He bought Boscombe Cottage, near Bournemouth, Dorset for his mother to live in and had it rebuilt based on the Casa Magni in Lerici, northern Italy, the last home of Percy Bysshe and Mary. He renamed it Boscombe Manor. Mary died before it was completed and Percy and his wife Jane took residence.
Sir Percy had a timber theatre built in the grounds but replaced it with the current grander theatre which opened in 1870 with a public performance. Many of their friends acted and came to see shows including Sir Henry Irving and Robert Louis Stevenson (who wrote Jekyll and Hyde in Bournemouth).
Now this lovely pocket sized theatre has been restored and is a treat to visit. The volunteers give you a friendly greeting, there is a pleasant bar and the seats are very comfortable – they came from the much hated Bournemouth Imax cinema building when it was demolished, but that story is for another blog!
Small theatres are always fun, the audience are there to enjoy themselves for a play such as this which follows in the long British tradition of darkly comic murder mysteries.
The London Repertory Players were at the Shelley Theatre for a four play summer season. The action was set in one room; all that was needed were a few items of furniture and several doors. Door bells and ringing phones, always at the wrong moment, kept the cast and audience on their toes and guessing till the final curtain.