Thursday, 7 August 2014

The Year in Books :: August

It actually took me all of July to read my book choice for The Year in Books last month but I enjoyed and savoured this wonderful biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrara. Her extraordinary life makes for fascinating reading and I also enjoyed learning more about her paintings and why she painted them. I finished the book in the last week of July and we watched the film Frida at the weekend, which I also thoroughly enjoyed.
My book choice for August, recommended by my friend Anne is another crime drama but not your usual run of the mill murder mystery

The death of Lucy Kyte by Nicola Upson is set in the 1930s and tells the story of crime writer Josephine Tey recreated as a fictional character, who inherits Red Barn cottage from her godmother Hester, a well known actress. The cottage is close to the site of the notorious 19th century murder of Maria Marten, which was an actual event. Hester had been fascinated by the life of Maria and frequently played her on stage. I admit that I am already half way through this book and the tension is building as the secrets of the cottage and Hester's life and death are unravelled. I think my favourite type of story is one that weaves a fictional tale around real life events.
I suppose that the book holds a particular fascination as many years ago I also played the part of Maria Marten when our drama group put on a Victorian melodrama as part of an Old Time Music Hall.

We played "The Murder in the Red Barn" very tongue in cheek and I'm not sure at the time I was even aware that it was based on a true story.

But now that I've done some research into the original story of the murder it has brought me right back to my childhood. From about age 5 until I was 9 or 10 we lived in Bury St. Edmunds, where the murderer William Corder was tried and hanged. And suddenly I have clear memories of playground games involving murders in barns and ghosts etc. that had been long forgotten. Isn't it strange how things come around

Joining in with The Year in Books with Laura at Circle of Pine Trees.
What are you reading this summer?


  1. Looks like two really wonderful books Gina. You look so cute in the play -- how fun that your current book would bring back such great memories!

  2. and they had a book covered in Corders skin in the museum in Bury - very gruesome!
    I worked in BSE library between 1971 and 1975 when it was in the town centre.
    A lovely town to work in, we rarely go now we are at the other side of the county.

  3. I have been re-reading My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. It is so entertaining and I remember watching the televised adaptation with our youngest daughter years ago.

  4. Gina, it's fun to see those photographs from the production of The Murder in the Red Barn. What a varied number of roles you've appeared in! I think that it's marvelous that your drama group continues to carry on.

    Thank you for the intro Nicola Upson. I've read most all of Josephine Tey's books, so it will be fun to investigate Ms Upson's books. And...once again, my marvelous library seems to have The Death of Lucy Kyle available for check out. I am going to ask the librarians to set it aside for my next visit.

    Right now I am reading some books by fellow bloggers, Christine Stovell's Follow a Star, and Vicki Lane's The Day of Small Things. And...also on the current reading stack are The Stories of Jane Gardam, and Ann Cleeves' White Nights.

    My current knitting is too complicated for me to manage simultaneously reading, so I'm doing some summer juggling of "quiet' time.


  5. That is really interesting, I haven't ever heard of the murder of Maria Martin, I am definitely going to have to check this book out. I don't know what it is lately, but I have been really into reading true crime lately,... especially since discovering that Ann Rule has updated all of her books to ebook format! I am currently reading her book about Ted Bundy, "The Stranger Beside Me." I learned by reading this book that Ann Rule personally knew Ted Bundy after working with him at a suicide prevention clinic. She later worked directly with him and corresponded with him while he was in prison- to write this book. It is always so interesting to me to get into the minds of someone so disturbed. I am really excited to check out the story of Maria Martin, and the stories surrounding her death. Thanks for suggesting it!

  6. By coincidence, I have visited Bury st Edmunds today, although I'm afraid you wouldn't recognise it from your day - the horse drawn carriages are long gone.

  7. Ps - I don't know how I missed the courgette post - I was looking out for it but only just read it!

  8. Pps - I've always seen you more as a perpetrator than a victim?

  9. I haven't read any of the titles in this post (I think I'd choose them just because of the covers) and only one Josephine Tey (The Franchise Affair, which I loved)so more to add to the TBR list. Those pictures from the play are great.

  10. both books sound great, thank you!

    I've just started Michael Cunningham's By nightfall. It's beautifully written and observed... not sure where the story is going though! I love how it talks about New York, which is one of my favourite cities in the world.

  11. Both books look really good - didn't you do a piece of work, something of yours I saw recently, on Frida Kahlo? Must find time to read more!! xCathy


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