Many thanks to Dick for contributions to this Page.
Neverwhere. By Neil Gaiman. Beneath the streets of London there is another London. A subterranean labyrinth of sewers and abandoned tube stations. A somewhere that is Neverwhere. An act of kindness sees Richard Mayhew catapulted from his ordinary life into a subterranean world under the streets of London. Stopping to help an injured girl on a London street, Richard is thrust from his workaday existence into the strange world of London Below. So begins a curious and mysterious adventure deep beneath the streets of London, a London of shadows where the tube cry of ‘Mind the Gap’ takes on new meaning; for the inhabitants of this murky domain are those who have fallen through the gaps in society, the dispossessed, the homeless. Here Richard meets the Earl of Earl’s Court, Old Bailey and Hammersmith, faces a life-threatening ordeal at the hands of the Black Friars, comes face to face with Great Beast of London, and encounters an Angel. Called Islington. Joining the mysterious girl named Door and her companions, the Marquis de Carabas and the bodyguard, Hunter, Richard embarks on an extraordinary quest to escape from the clutches of the fiendish assassins Croup and Vandemar and to discover who ordered them to murder her family. All the while trying to work out how to get back to his old life in London Above. The six part adaption of Neil Gaiman’s novel adapted by Dirk Maggs sees James McAvoy as Richard lead a stellar cast which includes Natalie Dormer, David Harewood, Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Anthony Head, David Schofield, Bernard Cribbens, Romola Garai, George Harris, Andrew Sachs, Lucy Cohu, Johnny Vegas, Paul Chequer, Don Gilet and Abdul Salis.
Lady into Fox. By David Garnett. Said by many to be one of the strangest works of non-fiction in English. Mr Tebrick is surprised by his wife Silvia’s sudden transformation into a vixen, and slowly has to acclimatise to her new dressing and eating habits.
Medical Detectives. By Michael Butt. Death in the Parish. When cholera strikes Soho in 1854, the Rev Henry Whitehead calls in the brilliant but mercurial Dr John Snow to investigate.
Medical Detectives. By Michael Butt. The Last Infirmity. Two ambitious young doctors tackle yellow fever in 19th century Cuba. With Colin Stinton and William Hope.
Medical Detectives. By Michael Butt. The Epping Jaundice. A strange epidemic breaks out among middle-class inhabitants of a quiet Essex suburb.
Medical Detectives. By Michael Butt. The Stranded Eagle. Years after three explorers died attempting to cross the Arctic, investigators start to piece together events.
Portrait of a Lady. (R) By Henry James. When Isabel Archer, a beautiful, spirited American, is brought to Europe by her wealthy aunt Touchett, it is expected that she will soon marry. But Isabel, resolved to enjoy the freedom that her fortune has opened up and to determine her own fate, does not hesitate to turn down two eligible suitors. Then she finds herself irresistibly drawn to Gilbert Osmond. Charming and cultivated, Osmond sees Isabel as a rich prize waiting to be taken. Beneath his veneer of civilized behaviour, Isabel discovers cruelty and a stifling darkness. In this portrait of a ‘young woman affronting her destiny’, Henry James created one of his most magnificent heroines, and a story of intense poignancy.
There are two versions available:
v1 From 2007. Read by Miriam Margolyes.
v2 From 2008. Dramatised by Rachel Joyce.
Cigarettes and Chocolate. Anthony Minghella’s Giles Cooper Award winning radio play, first broadcast nearly twenty years ago, repeated as a tribute to the author who died recently. Gemma’s unexplained silence is the catalyst for a reaction amongst her friends and lovers both unfaithful and unrequited, which starts as mild irritation but becomes increasingly uncontrolled as her passive but forceful refusal to speak drives them to distraction.
First Bite of the Air. By Stephanie Dale. Kerseley Colliery in Coventry was one of the biggest in the Midlands until its closure in the late 1990s. In this drama -documentary, the people of Kerseley talk about their lives both then and now, alongside the magical and haunting drama of one boy’s reunion with his long-dead grandfather.
Gondal. By the Bronte sisters. The world of Gondal was invented as a joint venture by sisters Emily and Anne. It was a game which they may possibly have played to the end of their lives. Early on they had played with their older siblings Charlotte and Branwell in the imaginary country and game of Angria, which featured the Duke of Wellington and his sons as the heroes.
Emily and Anne, as the youngest siblings, were often relegated to inferior positions within the game. Therefore, they staged a rebellion and established the imaginary world of Gondal for themselves. “The Gondal Chronicles,” which would have given us the full story of Gondal, has unfortunately been lost, but the poems and the diary entries they wrote to each other provide something of an outline. The earliest documented reference to Gondal is one of Emily’s diary entries in 1834, 9 years after the Glasstown Confederacy, when the two younger sisters were aged 16 and 14 respectively; it read: “The Gondals are discovering the interior of Gaaldine.”
All of the prose chronicles are now lost. The only surviving remnants of the Gondal works are made up of poems, diary entries and some occasional memory aids such as lists of names and characteristics. The epic fantasy world of Gondal is brought to life in this dramatic reconstruction by Martyn Wade
Imagining Them. By Wendy Spero, Meg Wolitzer and David Cale. Three coming-of-age stories as three New Yorkers imagine people whom they would have liked to know better. Whether it’s friends who never got to grow up, a father who died before his daughter could say ‘daddy’ or a role model celebrity who was next door but beyond reach, all are imagined presences who become familiar, funny and touching.
More Isaac Asimov on the Isaac Asimov Page.
Motel Texel. By Marjolein Bierens, translated by Joan Poort, narrated by Betsabeh EmranA young woman flees Iran with her husband and children. They settle into a hostel for refugees in a Dutch seaside town and all seems well. Then one day she returns to their motel and finds he has fled with their little ones.