Posted by: billpurdue | January 21, 2014

A Fresh Start


Welcome to a new series of my blogs about books. I’ve been blogging on books since 2008, but had a break since last Autumn. Now you can read this new series of blog postings on the website of the Chad newspaper (serving Mansfield, Ashfield, Alfreton and the surrounding areas) as well as on WordPress.

This is the first posting of the new series, which will be available at the usual web address of but also at I am planning to post something new about every fortnight, hopefully, and I’ll be touching on anything to do with books: fiction, non-fiction, local history, libraries, bookshops etc. I’ll be writing about the books I’ve read and enjoyed (or not as the case may be), and I hope to alert you to book related events in the North Notts, NE Derbys areas and sometimes further afield.

Talking of events, there’s to be a book signing at Sutton-in-Ashfield Library (01623 556296) on February 1st, when Joan Parker will be signing her new book “A Green Hill Far Away” about growing up and looking back at a time where Joan says ‘life was much simpler’. It’s published under Joan’s maiden name of Vardy, a well known surname in the Sutton and Kirkby area. The book is the first part of a two-book series and Joan is currently writing the second.

This is a remarkable achievement for someone who has only been able to see light and shade and some colours since birth. I’ll be there on 1st Feb to get my signed copy of her new book. It is published by independent publishers Gingernut Books Ltd based in Sutton. For more information, go to and look for the news story ‘Joan pens childhood tale of wartime’ or go to

…. and talking of blindness, there are several organisations which provide extensive libraries of talking books in various formats for visually impaired people. I came across one this week, which is new to me. ‘Listening Books’ (patron Stephen Fry) is a service ‘for those who have enjoyed reading but whose eyesight is worsening due to a condition such as macular degeneration or cataracts and for those who are registered blind’.

Like the RNIB and the Calibre talking book library, Listening Books charges an annual subscription to the borrower. The books are available as downloads , CDs and other formats. For more information go to

Secret scripture BCINow for my recommended book. I borrowed a large number of recent paperbacks from a friend recently. Some I really enjoyed whilst others were not so gripping.  One that I can recommend is “The Secret Scripture” by Sebastian Barry. Set in a mental hospital in Ireland, psychiatrist Dr Grene is charged with the job of assessing all the patients to see if any of them are fit to be released into the community, as the new premises under construction won’t be big enough to house all the  patients. One patient ,Roseanne McNulty, poses a special problem. She is nearing 100 years old and was admitted to the hospital as a young woman.

Most of the book is two stories in one – Dr Grene describes in his commonplace book his efforts to discover more about Roseanne whilst Roseanne is writing the story of her life, but she keeps this a secret from the doctor by hiding her notes. She had a turbulent rural childhood and her marriage, which promised so much, ended tragically. It’s a disturbing, heart rending story with a surprising twist at the end. It was Costa Book of the Year in 2008 and deservedly so.







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