Category Archives: Readers

Goodbye Fay Weldon

Sad news last week that Fay Weldon had died aged 91.

Fay wrote some 30 novels (her first in 1967) plus drama, plays and short fiction. Her 6th novel Praxis was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She also worked an advertising copywriter and is credited with the famous ‘Go to work on an egg’ campaign slogan.

Perhaps her best known work is ‘The Life and Loves of a She-Devil’ published in 1983 – dramatised on BBC TV in 1986 and later by Hollywood starring Meryl Streep and Roseanne Barr. Her other credits include ITV’s Upstairs Downstairs and an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice for the BBC. She was well known for her sharp dialogue and scathing wit.

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Hilary Mantel dies aged 70

Very sad news that Man Booker Prize winning author Dame Hilary Mantel has died aged 70, according to her publisher. Her Wolf Hall trilogy, charting the fortunes of Thomas Cromwell, has been serialised by the BBC.

Over the years she has produced numerous books, historical fiction, reviewed films, books and papers, for newspapers and TV. The sequel to ‘Wolf Hall’, ‘Bringing Up the Bodies‘ won her the 2012 Costa Book of the Year and the 2012 Booker Prize. She became the first British writer and the first woman to win the Booker more than once. Her books were adapted into plays by the RSC and produced as a mini-series by BBC. The final book The Mirror & the Light was published in 2020.

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Life on high starts way down below

Just completed ‘An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth’ by Chris Hadfield (Pan Books 2015).

This is an enthralling account of Hadfield’s professional life from his early days training with Canadian Forces flying jet fighters, through some 300 pages of fascinating facts on his journey to becoming an astronaut aboard the Space Shuttle and finally station commander on the ISS. The latter illustrates perfectly his journey from a cramped launch capsule, to a busy schedule on the Space Station, ending with a crash back to earth in a hot box on the end of a parachute canopy.

If anyone has the notion that it’s all about posing in NASA coveralls and being feted by the media, forget it. In fact forget anything you might assume about training for space – no wonder so few make the grade. While space travel may sound glamorous, it’s only a small part of an astronauts life, the rest is graft.

The book is extremely readable and, having seen him running the BBC TV series ‘Astronauts: Have you got what it takes?’, it comes as no surprise just how incredibly difficult it is to qualify. Hadfield wins with his down-to-earth (!) descriptions and his endeavours to impress upon every reader that it really is tough up there.

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