TV, BOOKS, PODCASTS
Francesca: Eileen Atkins reading Funeral Blues by WH Auden for The Poetry Hour on Instagram which is dedicated to the actress Helen McCrory. This poem (the one from the film Four Weddings and Funeral) always makes me teary and whilst I used to go to the live performances of The Poetry Hour at the London Library with actors and writers such as Bob Geldof, Fiona Shaw, Alicia Vikander and Seamus Heaney, now they are online and available to everyone.
Liz: After a winter of watching darker fare, I’m loving anything that makes me laugh out loud. Palm Springs on Amazon Prime certainly fits the bill. Starring former Saturday Night Live cast member Andy Samberg, it will remind you of Groundhog Day, but wackier. Also, as recommended previously, if you haven’t yet caught up with Call My Agent on Netflix, it’s a must!
Daisy: The BBC’s new adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s classic, The Pursuit of Love is irresistible viewing. The clothes, the parties, the airing cupboard full of Hons make me want to climb into the TV. Andrew Scott and his whisky-drinking hounds steal the show.
Francesca: I’m reading all the Agatha Christie novels – at the moment it’s Ordeal by Innocence. It’s a great combination of being light but gripping – just perfect for what I need right now.
Liz: When the shops reopened, one of my first visits was Daunt Books in Marylebone. As usual, their window is pure temptation. So I picked up the new book by Edmund de Waal, author of the wonderful The Hare with the Amber Eyes. Letters to Camondo, transports the reader to the home and collection of Count Camondo, a contemporary and near neighbour of Charles Ephrussi in Paris.
Daisy: I don’t know why but I decided to take on a massive tome each lockdown. Hilary Mantel saw me through 2020. This time it was Middlemarch which had always looked dauntingly long before. I loved it and can say it is entirely worth pursing since it has one of the most beautiful endings to a book I’ve ever read. No spoilers but the final line feels particularly relevant after the year we have had:
‘But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.’
I am now wondering why there isn’t a film adaption of Middlemarch? If there is I have yet to find it. I’ve also enjoyed an advance copy of Florilegia by Annabel Dover that looks at the life of amateur botanist Anna Atkins, widely considered to be the first woman ever to have taken a photograph. The story is told in a beautiful, fragmented way that is rather haunting. Next on my list is Animals the first novel by Lisa Taddeo, author of Three Women.
Francesca: My kids started listening to the Harry Potter books but they got pretty dark by book five and I declared that they should wait until they were older before they continued. However, that’s when my husband became an official Potterhead and he’s now 6 hours away from finishing book seven, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (he’s playing it out loud so I get to hear them again). Stephen Fry is brilliant at doing all the voices and whilst these audio books aren’t cheap, they are worth every penny.
Liz: As a known podcast lover, a friend tipped me off to Smartless. Hosted by a trio of actors – Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett — the format is very loose: actors interviewing their famous pals. I’m a little late to the game on this one, which means there is a great back catalog to dive into. With guests including Gwyneth Paltrow, Ricky Gervais, George Clooney, and Paul McCartney, there’s a lot to love. All done with great humour.
Daisy: I am lamenting the end of Sentimental in the City, a brilliant podcast about Sex and the City with Dolly Alderton and Caroline O’Donohue. A must-listen for SATC fans – you really do need to be a fan since each season gets its own 2-hour episode.