Tag Archives: Gyles Brandreth

Lastest Incomings & Postal Problems

I thought as I haven’t done one for ages and ages I would do a post on the latest arrivals from some of you and some lovely publishers over the last month and a bit. First though I need share my latest postal drama’s with you. You might remember a while back that I told you how my delightful postman (I like to point him out to visitors when they are staying so they can see just what a miserable so and so he is) was leaving my parcels in the street. Finally he has given up on that front but I was rather worried as some rather important parcels (which I can’t share with you or talk about sadly) hadn’t turned up. So off to the sorting office I marched.

I got there, explained the situation as they know e quite well and they said they would have a look. I then get one of them coming out beaming ‘it’s your lucky day’ they had seven rather large parcels waiting. I was about to leave when I noticed the posted dates, some as far back as last Saturday, so back to the man I go and ask what this is all about. I get a sheepish look before I am told ‘well the thing is, because you get so much post we hold the parcels for a week and then try and deliver it in one go once a week’. I didn’t shout, I didn’t kick off – after all these people do handle my post and I don’t want it vanishing forever as opposed to a few days. I simply and quietly said I would be most appreciative if my postal service could deliver the post that people are paying for at the speed they are paying for it. I then shouted and screamed a bit down the customer complaints phone line. Anyway before I make myself cross again lets get to those parcels, and some that arrived on time, which of course cheered me up no end.

First up a big thank you to you out there who read the blog and then send me emails asking me if I would like a copy of this that or the other that you have spare, want to re-home etc. None of you wanted your names mentioned but I wanted to put you first at least with a picture of your treats as I am very grateful. In the last month you have come up with some real gems such as…

  • Wise Children by Angela Carter – after I loved ‘The Bloody Chamber’
  • Taking The Devils Advice by Anne Fine – as it was mentioned in my Mum’s favourite books
  • The Child Garden & Lust by Geoff Ryan – a kind reader thought after my ‘253’ joy these would be good and one is a very sci-fi look at a future London so that will be interesting
  • Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood – you all know I love an Atwood and this is one of the few not on the TBR
  • Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue – after I loved ‘Room’ a kind reader thought I might like her 1700’s slightly sensational earlier novel

Now onto publishers some who sent a few so I have placed their books separately before a mixed bag or two at the end. First up some more guilty pleasures as Constable and Robinson sent me the latest M.C. Beaton series which they are relaunching this autumn. Cosy Edwardian murder mysteries with a new heroine and some fabulous titles.

The power of social media can bring you some treats sometimes. I tweeted that I had heard Brett Easton Ellis on the Guardian Bookclub podcast (I also heard Sarah Waters this week and it made me like ‘The Little Stranger’ even more which has grown and grown on me) a week or so ago and how listening to him talk made me want to read everyone of his books that I hadn’t, and wasn’t it funny how listening to or seeing authors talk can do that? In the post within a few days came this from Picador…

So now I do have the whole of his works to go through bar the latest as I had only read one of his books before which is the amazing (but possibly a book you don’t read twice) ‘American Psycho’ which If you haven’t read bite the bullet and try.

Vintage Books sent me a mixed bag of unsolicited (which I like as with Vintage they tend to be books that are going to become classics and I never knew I wanted to read – or had heard of – and yet once I see them I do) forthcoming treats containing…

  • The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks
  • The Good Angel of Death by Andrey Kurkov
  • Look At The Birdie by Kurt Vonnegut
  • A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks (can you believe I have still never read a Faulks?)

Now for two final mixture of publishers who have sent and who are…

  • Highland Fling by Nancy Mitford (Capuchin Classics) – I will be reading this over the bank holiday weekend
  • The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi by Andrew McConnel Scott (Canongate Books)
  • Last Night In Twisted River by John Irving (Transworld Books) – another author I can’t believe I haven’t read yet
  • Something Sensational To Read On The Train by Gyles Brandreth (John Murray) I love diaries and these one sound quite salacious and gossipy so I might be dipping in and out of them for the next few months
  • Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius (Peirene Press)
  • Tarr by Wyndham Lewis (Oxford University Press)
  • The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdall (Legend Press) winner of the Luke Bitmead Novel Award and being compared to Sophie Hannah

  • The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst (Sceptre) – call me a book cover slut but I do want to read this for the cover alone
  • Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart (Granta)
  • The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld (Headline) – I have started this one because I really liked ‘The Interpretation of Murder’ only thing is I couldn’t remember what happened in that as it was my pre-blogging days – oops. I know I liked it though and so far I havent had to hark back to the last one!
  • Farundell by L.R. Fredericks (John Murray) – I had never head of this one before it thudded through my letter box, however reading the synopsis and seeing thoughts on it here and there I am actually ridiculously excited about reading this one over the weekend
  • The Captain’s Wife by Kirsten McKenzie (John Murray)

Right that’s the lot of lovely loot, it has been a good month or so since I did one hence the mightiness of it. Special thanks again to you the readers who have been sending. So which of these have you heard about, which do you quite fancy and what else have you read by any of the authors and what did you think? Any more tales of postal hell?

Oh and a quick note; none of these books were asked for – I have banned myself from that as have lots in the house – either the publishers contacted me or simply sent them unsolicitied. Just so you all know!

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Elementary Dear Oscar

Last night was my first visit to the goings on at Wimbledon Bookfest. Now believe it or not I have never been to a book festival before, I know isn’t that shocking for someone who loves books so much? So I didn’t really know what to expect or what the whole thing would be like. I was intrigued, excited and as The Converted One had refused to come feeling slightly like a sad billy no mates. However when you are in a theatre people aren’t there to look at you are they, they are there to look at the stage. I always say this about going to the cinema alone which is something I love doing, oh dear painting rather a sad picture of myself, some people hate it.

I couldnt take a picture of him talking as theatre rules dont allow!

I couldn't take a picture of him talking as theatre rules dont allow!

So my first event at a book festival had something of a sensational era twist about it which I thought was just perfect both for my current reading and just because the whole late 1800’s fascinates me. It was a talk by Gyles Brandreth, at the Polka Theatre, all about his Oscar Wilde mysteries. I have only so far read the first in the series Oscar Wilde and The Candlelight Murders but have had the second one, Oscar Wilde and The Ring of Death, waiting in the wings for quite a while.

I wondered just how a modern author could put themselves into that historical era and make everything so real. Gyles admitted he had trouble and actually Oscars grandson phoned him after reading the first book and said ‘Oh Gyles why oh why have you done this, you have done something dreadful’ which of course left Gyles very worried ‘you let Oscar drink Bollinger… it wasn’t made until the 1920’s and he only drank Perrier Jouet’ which made us all laugh, and showed how much research needs to be done into the era. Laughter was a theme as Gyles Brandreth discussed his diaries which are soon to become a memoir ‘Something Sensational To Read On The Train’.

The part I was there for was all things Victoriana and it soon came as Gyles discussed how reading The Trails of Oscar Wilde had lead him to find a real hero as well as having his fictional hero Sherlock Holmes as a young man. When he went to boarding school he became a friend of the founder who he played Scrabble against once a week and who turned out to be one of Oscar Wilde’s oldest friends and illuminated him to the life of Oscar without the scandal and painted a portrait of a man many could not say they had met.

It was when a few years ago reading a biography of Arthur Conan Doyle that he found the two had met in a hotel invited by an American publisher looking for murder mysteries to publish. The two became great friends and two legendary books were created ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ and ‘A Study In Scarlet’. The friendship and that evening is what inspired Gyles to write the Oscar Wilde Mysteries where Conan Doyle plays sidekick to Wilde’s amateur detective role which has now spawned a series.

Why the Victorian era for the basis of his fiction apart from the two main characters? “I love being lost in it. It was such a time of great change and great drama. It was a time when six men would meet at a table, some unpublished at the time, for a dinner club. These six men included Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and J.M. Barrie. What was it in that fog of London during that time that made it such a creative era, it must be what makes modern authors go back and live it in order to be even more creative themselves.”   

A fascinating evening and a delightful first taste of book festivals. I am now very excited about Kamila Shamsie on Friday and Tom Rob Smith on Saturday, also annoyed missing Chris Cleave tomorrow and Sadie Jones on Wednesday but focus on the positive. I definitely need to go to more and shall do, which are the best ones? I also managed to get my copy of the second in the series signed and should really stop typing and get on with reading it…

A Savidge Reads Signed Oscar Wilde Mystery

Now before I do dash off I have something of a competition for you which involves the Bookfest. I have a spare ticket on Friday night to see the wonderful Kamila Shamsie talk about the wonderful, wonderful ‘Burnt Shadows’ and wondered if any of you would like it? It does mean spending about two hours with me which could be a downside ha! So if you can be in Wimbledon for 7pm and have read it and loved it, could read it by Friday but haven’t yet or are desperate to read it then do enter in comments either with a link to your review (I will be checking your reviews were positive – or why would you want to be there ha) or saying why you are desperate to read the book and The Converted One Will do a draw by 9pm tomorrow! Good luck, I may cry if no one wants to spend a few hours with me though! Ha!

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Savidge Reads on the Radio, Bookfest and Book Group

This is just a bit of an update post really; there is another post coming up shortly but more of that later on. I just wanted to let you know a few bookish bits and bobs that are on my radar and the like.

First up is Savidge Reads on the Radio though that isn’t actually the name of the radio show… hang on let me explain. A few weeks ago I got an email asking if I would be interested in being a member of a panel for a new radio show that is an hour of books, books, books. Now who could say no to a request like that? If that wasn’t enough it’s for a brilliant cause too, it just gets better and better, this is going to be for hospital radios all over the shop, which I think is brilliant. Having had a few stays in hospital myself one of the things that I spent hours doing was reading, but with no one to talk to about it and this show will encourage patients to chat, hospitals to start book groups etc. All absolutely brilliant and what’s more some of you could feature on it too! If you can be free in north London by 5pm (at the studio) towards the end of every month and want more info do contact me at savidgereads@googlemail.com

Next up is Wimbledon Bookfest which starts tomorrow; I will be bringing you some reports from the festival as it takes place over the coming week and a half. I am very much looking forward to hearing Kamila Shamsie and Tom Rob Smith talk and think that on Sunday Gyles Brandreth will be the perfect evening for my ‘Sensation Season’ as his series of murder mysteries with Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle and of course is set in the late 1800’s. So I am really looking forward to listening to him talk and might have to now have a binge read of the second in the series. I read Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders earlier in the year and it’s a series I have been planning on reading more of. Is anyone else coming along to any of the events would be lovely to see some of you?

Now last night was book group, more on the book we discussed last night later today, so what is the next novel that we will be discussing, and so can you? It was Gemma who was next up to choose last and she has chosen George Orwell’s ‘1984’. For those of you (like me) who haven’t read it here is the synopsis “Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101. “Nineteen Eight-Four” is George Orwell’s terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime.” You can pop here for more information on Book Group. I am really excited about this next choice as I haven’t read it yet though I have been meaning to for ages.

Erm, that’s all my bookish latest, apart from the fact I am doing a huge book sort over the next few days – one that is ruthless. What bookish news do you have?

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Oscar Wilde & The Candlelight Murders – Gyles Brandreth

The lovely people at John Murray sent me the second in Gyles Brandreth’s Oscar Wilde Mysteries Series I thought really it was about time that I read the first. I cannot read series in random order; I don’t know why I just can’t it seems wrong somehow. The premise for the Oscar Wilde Mysteries is that Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle became very close friends, along with Wordsworth’s grandson Robert Sherard who is Oscar’s sidekick become involved in a mystery after meeting and set out to solve it.

I have wanted to read this for a while, Arthur Conan Doyle is one of my favourite authors of all time and I like a good mystery. I also wanted to see how it compared to the brilliant ‘Arthur & George’ which I have recently noticed have lost my copy of, not that the two books are in the same market but I like the idea of writers in fiction and Oscar Wilde as a leading man could be an interesting read.

One thing I will say for Gyles Brandreth is he knows the 1880’s and has clearly researched Oscar Wilde and the areas of London he frequented. Occasionally this does border on too much as Oscar and Robert in all seem to spend as much time eating and drinking as they do trying to solve the mystery which is fine once or twice but after a few hundred pages I was wishing for slightly less prose and more plot.

The book starts as Oscar finds the body of a young man named Billy dead in a house of questionable repute; the young escort has been murdered. Having cared for Billy ‘as a brother’ he decides to take it upon himself to find out who murdered Billy and why, even when Detective Aidan Fraser of Scotland Yard shows no sign of interest after the body goes missing. What follows is a hunt for the killer told by Sherard as he notes Oscar’s detective skills, very Holmes and Watson indeed.

I did on the whole enjoy the book though I did find it lacked the punch it promised on the blurb, I need to do a blog on blurbs, as you are told a series of murders unravel after the first. In actual fact the next murder doesn’t happen for about 200 pages after trips to Paris and the seaside and of course some meals. This isn’t boring, you just want more action, and I found I was putting the book down and not rushing back to it but enjoying it when I did pick it up. Not the quick read I expected. Once the action picks up I couldn’t put it down even though I had guessed the killer very early on.

I did overall enjoy the book and it looks to be a promising series, I think that the second will hopefully win me over when I read it in a few weeks. Give this one a go and persevere this took me a fair few days. That’s my advice with this first in the series, keep at it and it will pay off dividends. 4/5.

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