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Wednesday 1 December 2021

November Favourites and Link-Up

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton walking in Epping Forest with her headphones and podcasts for company

Dear friends. I don't normally post my Friday Favourites until the last Friday of the month, but had a disaster with some photos so substituted this post instead. I hope you enjoy my round-up of TV, books and podcasts, and look forward to seeing your recommendations in the comments.

TV Reviews

We got to the end of The Morning Show, season 2  (Apple TV) - and were glad to see the back of it.

Season 1, in 2019, was totally of the moment and chimed with the #MeToo movement. The old boys' network at a TV channel was called out for allowing certain male behaviors to go unchecked, including allegations of sexual abuse leveled at anchor presenter Mitch Kessler.

Season 2 picked up where it left off, with the network re-employing co-anchor Alex Levy  (Jennifer Aniston). She had been implicated in the cover-up because of her close ties to Kessler, now licking his wounds in Italy. 

Season 2 didn't really get going. The leading characters have so many issues and demons, it's no wonder the show seemed disjointed and floundering. In the last episode, when Alex appears to be one of the first in America to get Covid, was I the only one who would not have watched her self pitying drivel as she broadcast around the clock on what it was like to get the virus?

Invasion (Apple TV) has picked up, and yay, we have finally seen the aliens! They seem to be like very large beetles (the size of a small car)  which scuttle about and race up and down the sides of buildings.  I'm not sure we're going to get any sense out of them. 

Foundation (Apple TV) really didn't get any better.  It stayed ponderous, gloomy and self important until the end.  I fear that future seasons are in the works. 

Wheel of Time (Prime)

Said to have the biggest budget of any drama, Wheel of Time is supposed to be Prime's block buster equivalent of Game of Thrones.  There are a few similarities:  a group of people on an endless quest across hostile lands  (shades of Daenerys  and the quest of the one-eyed raven-in-waiting, Bran Stark), plus mention of dragons. One of the five on the epic journey is apparently a sacred dragon, but he/she doesn't know it yet.  

It took a good three episodes to warm up but the fourth finally gave us a battle and lots of flashy special effects.  As with GoT,  women are at the forefront of the adventure, with Rosamund Pike at the helm.  What it lacks is GoT's irony and humour.  It is, like Foundation, very serious and full of its own importance.  But I will keep watching.

Dalgleish (Channel 5, My5)

I've read all the PD James novels about the enigmatic detective Adam Dalgleish, the brooding poet, and somehow missed out on the previous TV series in 2008 where he was portrayed by Richard Derrington.  Now he's morphed into Bertie Carvel, who I've always regarded as a terrible ham. 

The first two episodes were one story, concerning murders at a nurses' training college. It was allegedly set in the 1970s, and Dalgeish's disrespectful side kick DS Masterson looked the part with his brown trousers and moustache. But it could easily have passed for rthe 1950s.  

Fortunately the engaging and complicated plot had me forgetting Carvel was Dalgleish, and I was pleasantly surprised that he was very low key and didn't ham it up. He still doesn't come close to my own imagining of what the character is really like.

The Lakes with Simon Reeve  (BBC1 and iPLayer)

We adore the Lake District, in the north of England, and were there in July. This is a different Lake District than is usually portrayed, when all you tend to see are the tourist delights of zipwires, steamers and kayaking,  and of course the many dozens of hills and mountains. Reeve, who is an author and adventurer, and very engaging company,  shows us the impact of all that tourism. Very few locals can afford to buy houses, which are mostly second homes bought by (no doubt) southerners. And the fells are suffering from dangerous erosion because of all the foot fall. 

In the last episode, he went to Cumbria's biggest employer, Sellafield, where a massive clean-up operation is underway after a nuclear accident a few years ago. He also goes to Whitehaven to explore plans for a controversial new coal fired (!) power station in the region. Condemnation of the proposals has even come from the White House. 

Darkness - Those Who Kill (BBC iPlayer)

I'm totally hooked on this gritty Danish crime drama. Over eight episodes, investigator Jan Michelsen attempts to find the link between two abductions that happened ten years apart.


Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller

This was my favourite read of the month. It was short listed for the Women's Prize for Fiction. It's about people who live on the edge of society and how perilous that existence can be.  

Widow Dot lives with her grown-up, unmarried children, twins Julius and Jeanie, aged 51, in rural poverty.  Theirs is a hand-to-mouth existence with Dot relying on income from selling eggs and vegetables, plus the irregular handyman labours of Julius. Jeanie has a heart condition so limits herself to housework and a little gardening. She can barely read and write.  None of them claim any benefits and they try to avoid bureaucracy and GP surgeries.

When Dot dies suddenly, the twins are suddenly confronted with a number of issues and realise how little they knew their mother and some of the complications in her life. I could hardly bear to read  about the plight of poor Jeanie as things spiralled out of control.  

A beautifully written and thought provoking book.  

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead 

This was short listed for the 2021 Booker Prize. It's the story of the interwoven lives of two women: an adventurous female aviator, who vanished during the 1950s, and the modern-day Hollywood actor who plays her in a film on screen.

Marian is a memorable heroine, bold and ahead of her time.  I didn't feel that I ever got to know her, or experience her emotions, because she was simply devoted to flying and couldn't be bothered with much else, including love. Half a century after she disappears on an record attempt, a scandal-ridden actor, Hadley Baxter, starts to research the background and what really happened to Marian. 

The last chapters, covering Marian's disastrous record attempt, are breathtaking. If only the rest of the book had lived up to them. I found it too long, and I couldn't engage with either Marian or Hadley. For once, the men in this novel seemed more compelling, particularly Marian's husband, a charismatic bootlegger, and her on/off lover. 

I didn't find the juxtaposition between the lives of Marian and Hadley very satisfying and tended to skim through the Hadley chapters. It didn't seem believable that she managed to unearth a mystery that had escaped everyone else. 

Did I Say That Out Loud?  Jane Garvey and Fi Glover

I absolutely love the Fortunately podcast  (BBC) with Fi and Jane and was an avid listener when it first started.  Here at last were two middle aged women, successful broadcasters, allowed to have free rein in discussing varied topics and making laugh out loud observations about the minutiae of our lives, including the "chuff" that can always be found in cutlery drawers.  So I was keen to download their new book, written during lockdown. 

One of the delights of their podcast is their repartee.  They aren't friends in real life:  they worked together and respect each other, but they're not "besties."  Yet their badinage is a joy to behold. 

It was difficult to translate this to a book.  They write alternate chapters with the other woman then giving her response to what the other has written.  It works best when they talk about their own personal experiences rather than when they expatiate on the topics of the day, like "wokeism" and badly behaved men.  I would loved to have just read their memoirs because they have so much life experience and amusing anecdotes.  

Podcast Recommendations

This month's entry into the Podcast Hall of Fame:  The Harrowing (Storyglass)

This drama in 8 parts is everything a podcast drama should be. A superb aural experience in terms of sound and effects, and superbly acted by a cast led by Joanne Froggatt  (Downton Abbey) and Rege Jean-Page (Bridgerton). 

A once-in-a-century storm hits the remote Scottish island of Toll Mór. A barbaric ritualised crime sets off a chain of events which heralds the rise of an ancient evil and threatens to change the course of history. Froggatt is the lone police sergeant who travels from the mainland into the maelstrom.  I loved it! 

The Dropout - Elizabeth Holmes on Trial

I loved The Dropout, the story of how Elizabeth Holmes set up a pioneering medical company called Theranos only to see it collapse around her amid claims that the technology never worked. Holmes is now on trial in the US, along with her former partner and the company's COO.  The trial is now being covered as an addendum to the original podcast. I hope LBC do the same with their Ghislaine podcast, now that Ghislaine Maxwell's trial is underway. 

Sweet Bobby (Tortoisemedia)

This is the true story of the search for one of the world's most sophisticated cat fishers.  Cat fishing is when someone takes information and images, typically from other people, and uses them to create a new identity for themselves. 

In Sweet Bobby, the cat fisher makes contact with his victim via Facebook, using the identity of a person vaguely known to her;  he actually "kills off" the person he's impersonating, and then, shockingly, brings him back to life as someone who's on police protection.  The cat fisher goes on to fake having serious medical conditions and almost dying in hospital. All the time he is building an online relationship with his victim, although she never sees or meets him. 

The unwitting victim is swept along in this web of deceit, and falls in love with him.  Psychologist insights tell us about the patterns of behavior that cat fishers use to gain coercive control.  Fascinating.

That's all for this month's Favourites. I'd love to get your thoughts and recommendations in the comments. 

Nothing was gifted for this post, and to give you the best reading experience, no ads or affiliate links are used. 

Sharing this post with: On Mondays We Link Up at Glass of Glam, Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #SpreadTheKindness at Shelbee on the Edge, Thursday Moda at Elegance and Mommyhood, Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Style with a Smile  at StylesplashTFF at Doused in Pink, Lizzie in Lace Confident Twosday at IDoDeclaireRena at Fine WhateverFabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey Brunette Fancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion StyleHappiness is Homemade at Life as a Leo Wife#AnythingGoes at My Random Musings

Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday, the link-up where readers find new blogs to read, and bloggers find new readers. 

Last Week's Favourites (Most Clicked)

Coping with what you can't control by Iris of La Mousmous

Yes kids, your mother can (and does) wear combat boots, by Rena of Fine Whatever

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1 comment

  1. I never been to the Lake District, can't get enough of Sussex, but we want to go there one day...... one day..... not in the tourist part that is. Unsettled grounds sound intriguing. I need to read more, for some reason I never do during the colder months.


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