North Manchester FM is moving home! From Tuesday 1st September, the station will be based at the Manchester Communication Academy in Harpurhey. As part of the move, we’re also having a few small schedule changes, and Hannah’s Bookshelf is moving to the new timeslot of Saturday 2-4pm.
Because of all the work to set up the new studio, there haven’t been any live shows this week. I’m not sure whether my Bank Holiday show will be going out on Saturday 29th – and, if it does, I don’t know if it will be on at 2pm or 4pm! – so I’m putting a link up here so you can listen to it online if it doesn’t go out on air.
And since it’s the last Bank Holiday weekend of the summer, today’s theme is… summer holidays! Every year, there are loads of lists published of books to read on holiday, but I thought I’d do something a bit different and talk about books featuring holidays. And, because it’s me, this quickly turned into a list of fictional holidays gone awry. Below are details of the books I’m discussing in the show – all of which are highly recommended. To hear more about each title and why I chose it for the list… well… you’ll just have to listen to the show!
There are a few of Agatha Christie’s novels I could have chosen for this theme, but I really do love Evil Under the Sun. First published in 1941, the book has Hercule Poirot trying to get some peace and quiet at the Jolly Roger Hotel in Devon. But, of course, it doesn’t go to plan, as the glamorous Arlena Marshall is found murdered and all the hotel guests have watertight alibis… or do they?
Okay, so whether or not this holiday ‘goes awry’ is kind of down to how you view the events of the book, but I certainly think it qualifies as a holiday with unpleasant consequences! In Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 classic, the unnamed narrator travels to Monte Carlo as the companion of a rich older woman. There she meets Maximilian de Winter, and the two enjoy a whirlwind holiday romance. But things take a darker turn when the narrator agrees to marry Maxim and live with him at Manderley.
Smith’s 2006 horror novel is set in Mexico, on the Yucatán Peninsula, this is a book for readers who like their holidays with a little more gore. A group of American tourists decide to wander off the beaten track and find a Mayan village dominated by a huge vine-covered hill. A young boy appears from the villager, apparently warning them away from the hill. But do they listen? Of course they don’t! Stephen King described this book as ‘the book of the summer’ in 2006, saying ‘it does for Mexican vacations what Jaws did for New England beaches in 1975′.
First published in 1955, Patricia Highsmith’s novel tells the story of Tom Ripley’s evolution from two-bit con man to obsessive predator. After tricking Herbert Greenleaf into believing he is an old friend, Tom travels to Sanremo supposedly to bring Herbert’s son Dickie back to the family business. Instead, Tom grows fond of Dickie’s decadent Italian lifestyle… maybe a little too fond! This is the first of a series of novels featuring Tom Ripley (known as ‘the Ripliad’), and it was followed by Ripley Under Ground (1970), Ripley’s Game (1974), The Boy Who Followed Ripley (1980) and Ripley Under Water (1991).
Like all of the books on today’s show, The Talented Mr Ripley has had the big screen treatment. But in the show I also mention Switzerland, a 2014 play by Joanna Murray-Smith. Murray-Smith’s play features an elderly and reclusive Highsmith, living in seclusion in the Swiss Alps. One day, a young man visits her, claiming to be a representative of her publisher… but is he what he seems?
Published in 1996, The Beach is the story of Richard, an English backpacker in Thailand, who is offered a map giving directions to an Edenic secluded beach. Along with a French couple, Étienne and Françoise, Richard follows the map, overcomes various challenges and discovers, not only a beautiful beach but also the close-knit and self-sufficient community who have made it their home. It seems like Paradise… but it’s not long before the cracks begin to show and Richard begins to see the darkness at the heart of the secretive community.
Again, not technically a holiday ‘gone awry’, but certainly one with unforeseen (and life-changing) consequences. In Forster’s 1908 novel, Lucy Honeychurch travels to Florence, under the watchful eye of her cousin Charlotte Bartlett. There, while staying the Pension Bertolini, Lucy has a number of encounters with her fellow guests that threaten to seriously alter how she sees herself and her life back in England. In particular, she meets Mr Emerson and his son George who shake the foundations of her sheltered, genteel life.
As I’ve said a couple of times on the show, A Room with a View is one of my favourite books of all time, so this one is a really strong recommendation!
To listen to this week’s show, please use the player here: