Posted by: billpurdue | January 27, 2010

84 A replacement for Richard and Judy?

Did you watch…

……the new Channel 4 “TV Book Club” which was on More 4 on Sunday? This is the new series of programmes with Jo Brand, Gok Wan and a few others sitting round a coffee table and discussing the odd book or two and having a good laugh at the same time. Maybe that’s not a fair description, but if you look at the comments about the programme on the web page you’ll see that quite a few people were unimpressed.  I’ve just watched the episode broadcast on 24th January on 4oD.  My main comment on the programme is that there are a few too many people in the discussion group and they could have included another book (only two were discussed as far as I could tell!) in the programme, even though it is barely 24 minutes long.

The books that they are discussing over the whole series are being promoted in libraries and bookshops. Look out for the special “dump bins” headed by a photograph of all the celebrities etc taking part. You can find a list of the books , which include the new title by Sarah Waters ,The Little Stranger , Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant and Nick Hornby’s Juliet, naked on Amazon and on the TV Book Club web pages.


Just  a brief mention about the overall winner of the Costa Book Awards, which was announced only this week (26th January). It’s A Scattering [Arete £7.99 9780955455360], which is a book of poems by Christopher Reid, a  tribute to his wife Lucinda Gane following her death in 2005.

Almost a “forgotten gem”

Last year I wrote about a 1950/60s novel called Deliverance by L A G Strong and called it a “forgotten gem”. Well, ever since then, I’ve been on the lookout for another forgotten gem. I thought I might have found it in The House of Moreys by Phyllis Bentley (1894 – 1977) – well, not quite, but still worth reading. It was one of the titles chosen as part of the Companion Book Club series in the 1950s

Phyllis Bentley

It’s set at the start of the nineteenth century (yes, so was the book I wrote about last week, but this is very different) and has a rather familiar theme of a young woman, Eleanor Moreys, whose father dies in a debtor’s prison in London (through no fault of his own) and who is invited to go and live with Charles Moreys, her cousin, in the Yorkshire Dales. She finds it very difficult to fit in with the quite dysfunctional family in an alien environment, but succeeds after many trials and tribulations. Her cousin, Charles Moreys is 15 years her senior and already a widower and prone to sullen moods. There are two young children, Dick and Tessie, living in the same house as well as two young men Jacob and the unsavoury Joah. There is also a rather strange old crone of a housekeeper, Adah, whose involvement in the history of the Moreys family turns out to have much more relevance than at first appears. It takes Eleanor years to fathom out who is the son/daughter of whom and what happened to Charles’ first wife and who pushed who into the mill pond, before she eventually marries Charles  and they have a son and daughter of their own.

Having re-read the above précis, it hardly seems like an exciting book, but there were times when I found it hard to put down. I sometimes wish I had a family tree to refer to so that I could understand all the revelations about who was whose child and so on.  I haven’t read any of Phyllis Bentley’s other books, but I suspect that the amount of melodrama and sentimentality involved is typical of her writings. It’s perhaps not a perfect example of “trouble at t’mill”, but worth the effort for anyone who likes historical novels. Phyllis Bentley would have known something about life in those times as she herself was the daughter of a mill owner and is fondly remembered in the West Riding of Yorkshire

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