Wednesday, 13 November 2019



What do you get if you cross a lion's roar with the hiss of a snake ... well, apparently the menacing whoosh of a torpedo speeding through the ocean. (That's how they achieved it for the sound track, we were told.)
The cinema ladies - that's me and my friend J - do occasionally venture out of our comfort zone and last night (with resignation rather than enthusiasm on J's part, I admit) we decided on this French submarine thriller ... 
It was very exciting. 'That was a good film!' said J at the end.
I think it's on Netflix but you really need to see it on a big screen.
And who knew about 'golden ears' - the acoustic analysts who can detect anything in the water from an enemy sub to a baby dolphin?
I'm tone deaf but I did think that here's a film that might appeal to musicians. At least, musicians who like submarines!

Sunday, 10 November 2019



And here I am again plugging a film that barely features anywhere in London, let alone the rest of the country. The Observer called it one of the best films of 2019 - and although there was only a handful of people in the cinema this afternoon, I think they'd all agree. There's a trailer here. (And the somewhat slicker US trailer here.)
















London Film Festival seems quite a long time ago - but I've been lazy about posting lately and never got around to mentioning Harriet, the gripping true story of Harriet Tubman, who led hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. (Nothing to do with this book but it did remind me how much I enjoyed it.) On general release later this month. Highly recommended.




As for The Aeronauts ...well, I enjoyed that little snooze I had in the middle. (Just resting my eyes ...)
It was - okayish.

Monday, 21 October 2019



I've just galloped through this in two days, completely engrossed. Lore Segal - now an elegant and beautiful 91-year-old - is one of the last surviving kindertransport children. At 10, she stepped off the boat quite alone, at least that's how she remembers it - although years later she comes across newsreel footage that shows her in a line of other refugees on the gangplank. Lore was child 152. 

So this book - originally published in 1964 - is described as a fictionalised memoir, although her child's eye view has a ring of absolute authenticity. Lore's father was determined that she should save the rest of the family and tasked her - at 10!- with petitioning for visas to get her parents and extended family out of Austria. At least, that was the child's perception. Imagine the father's desperation. And the burden of responsibility placed on the child. But against all the odds - for the vast majority of kindertransport children never saw their parents again - Lore was reunited with hers on her 11th birthday in March, 1939. They're safe, but still forced to live apart: Lore taken in as a refugee child in other people's houses; her educated, cultivated parents reduced to working elsewhere as domestic servants.

By chance I'd just finished a pair of YA wartime novels - Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire - that were highly-acclaimed a few years ago. Now, in fairness, when I was a YA the genre hadn't been invented. (You'd read a couple of Agatha Christies - your mum told you'd love Daphne du Maurier - and that was it, you were on your own in the big library!) I found the unsophisticated language of these YA novels a bit plodding. (I'm sure the bar could be a set a bit higher ... but how old are YAs? I thought maybe 13-ish?)
The SOE spy plot, on the other hand, seemed unnecessarily tricksy and melodramatic. In dramatic times, there's surely no need to over-egg the (rationed) pudding? It's 50-odd years since I sat beside my mum on a Sunday afternoon watching Carve Her Name with Pride and grasped that these were events that had happened to real, courageous people ... far more memorable than any immature adventure novel.

Saturday, 19 October 2019



I've only seen the first episode - and we're nowhere near the frozen North and the armoured bears - but BBC's adaptation of His Dark Materials is already looking very promising (and so much better than that dreadful film version).

Friday, 18 October 2019



I've had this on the shelf for ages, seven whole years, rationing myself because I like to know that I have a 'new' Elizabeth Taylor to look forward to. (And yes, I'm impressed by my self-restraint!)
Oh, those old green Viragos with their beautiful covers ... this is Manet, and I was so thrilled when I spotted the dragon on the glass vase, I'd thought it was a rose stem.
And the bliss of Elizabeth Taylor ...
'She seemed to have been made for widowhood, and had her own little set, for bridge and coffee mornings, and her committee meetings for the better known charities ...'
I've just ordered Hester Lilly ... will report back in 2026!



Isn't this lovely? But I don't think I'll be tempted as I fell head over heels for the cover of her last book and it proved rather feeble.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019



Hurray ... and said to be even better than the first. My favourite cranky literary heroine.