November’s Cultural Picks

Helen Frankenthaler, Tales of Genji I, 1998

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There is nothing for you here by Fiona Hill on audible

Fiona Hill was born and grew up in Northern England.  When she turned 18, her coal-miner father turned to her and said, ‘There is nothing for you here, Pet.’  Heeding his advice, she went to study in Moscow, followed by Harvard and then became a foreign policy expert under three US Presidents.   Having become a US citizen, she was a key witness in the first impeachment enquiry into Donald Trump.  It’s been an extraordinary career and Hill is at her most fascinating when she draws key lessons from both her personal story and that of international global politics.

From Russia with Diamonds 2-part podcast from Tortoise Slow News

We have flagged Tortoise’s podcast previously – it’s excellent for longer form stories and really digs down into details. From Russia with Diamonds explores the decades-old tale of valuable diamonds gone missing from the Russian State Treasury after the collapse of communism.

 

The Facebook Files 5-part podcast from the The Journal

Part of the Wall Street Journal’s daily podcast, The Facebook Files covers all the details of the story of information released by whistleblower Frances Haugen.  It is an excellent overview and delves into some of the moral issues facing social media today. Well worth a listen for anyone using Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp.

Comfort Eating with Grace Dent – season 2

The second season is airing now with new episodes landing every Tuesday. We particularly loved listening to Stephen Fry who describes running away from school at 17 and checking into The Ritz with stolen credit cards, smoking Sobranie cocktail cigarettes and ordering entrecôte steak from room service.

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Images: Claude Monet, Water Lilies and Agapanthus, 1914–1917, Oil on canvas, 140 × 120 cm. Michel Monet bequest, 1966. Inv. 5084. © Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris. Helen Frankenthaler, Feather, 1979. Acrylic on canvas, 142.9 x 172.1 cm © Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / ARS, NY and DACS, London 2021 / Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian London.

Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty at Dulwich Picture Gallery, until April 2022

We haven’t loved an exhibition so much in a long time as Helen Frankenthaler at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Allow enough time – there’s that hypnotic, dreamy quality to her works that makes you want to keep on looking, rather like you might get standing before a Rothko or Monet’s Waterlilies. In fact, the Picture Gallery have paired Claude Monet’s Water Lilies and Agapanthus  (1914–1917) which is on loan from the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris with Frankenthaler’s monumental Feather (1979) in a room just off the main gallery – do look out for it.

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House of Glass by Hadley Freeman, £8.19 from amazon.co.uk

We’ve been meaning to read this book for ages (it was first published back in March of this year) and what a great read it is.  Hadley’s family is fascinating but it’s the way she really gets under their skin that makes the book so involving.  You find yourself rooting for her relatives as they travel from Eastern Europe to Paris and then suffer various fates during WW2  – from the grandmother who escaped to America through a marriage she didn’t want to one of her brother’s who had become an unlikely couturier and then joined the foreign legion.

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller, £10.99 from amazon.co.uk

We’ve only just started this debut novel but already we’re gripped. The author became a books editor after studying at Harvard and then worked for a decade as Head of Drama Series at HBO – and it shows.  Based in Cape Cod, the book is about lost love, a childhood accident and the choices we make in life.  It’s one of those books you absolutely immerse yourself into.

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci, £12 from amazon.co.uk

Stanely Tucci’s memoir is as every but as good as we hoped it with be. It starts with his childhood in upstate New York where he’d trade his delectable Italian leftovers’-style lunch boxes with his friend Ricky’s Marshmallow Fluff white bread sandwiches, and runs all the way to lockdown in London, spent with his wife Felicity Blunt and their brood of five hungry children. Funny, moving, and peppered with his own recipes – ragù Tucci and his Christmas cocktail.

 

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Only Murderers in the Building 

From Disney Plus, this series stars Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez as the characters investigate a murder in their Upper West Side apartment building.

The Problem with John Stewart

While the Daily Show is still great, we have been missing John Stewart. He is back on Apple TV, although a little more serious this time. The Problem dives into issues in American society today that should be easy to resolve, but somehow are not.

Succession Season 3

Of course we are watching the next series of Succession – who isn’t? Everyone’s favourite family of unlikable characters (except cousin Greg?) is back for another run. With the first three episodes out now, it’s almost time to start binging.

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