The Story of the Trapp Family Singers

I am currently reading and hugely enjoying Maria Augusta Trapp’s The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. It is difficult to read some of the early sections in particular without thinking about (or humming) The Sound of Music but, as the story progresses, we get a lot that isn’t in the movie. It comes as something ofContinue reading “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers”

The Jesuits in China

  The first Jesuit missionaries to China were a really fascinating group and Liam Matthew Brockey’s Journey to the East provides many new insights into their mission. Whereas previous accounts tended to emphasise the Jesuit mission to the imperial court, Brockey conclusively shows that they also made a big impact in the countryside among ordinary folk too.Continue reading “The Jesuits in China”

Escape from the Tower of London

I wrote yesterday about Fr John Gerard’s plan to escape from the Tower of London in 1597, a story I must have read as a child, but had then completely forgotten, even though it has everything you could possibly want from a great escape story. Having bribed his guard, so he could gain access toContinue reading “Escape from the Tower of London”

Pat Reid’s ‘My Favourite Escape Stories’

This was one of my favourite books when I was a child. I have vivid memories of Charles I’s attempted escape from Carisbrooke Castle, Oliver Philpot’s ‘Trojan Horse’ escape from Stalag Luft III and Pierre Mairesse Lebrun’s vaulting of the fence at Colditz. However, I had completely forgotten the first chapter, which is an extractContinue reading “Pat Reid’s ‘My Favourite Escape Stories’”

101 Things to Do With Your Dog – No.1

I enjoyed this paragraph (and accompanying footnote) from Antonia Fraser’s The King and the Catholics about the great historian, John Lingard: “Personal details about Lingard indicate a man of benevolence and whimsicality. As fame in his own field came to him, an Associate of the Royal Society of Literature and Corresponding Member of the French Academy,Continue reading “101 Things to Do With Your Dog – No.1”

Edmund Campion and Evelyn Waugh

The novel is the genre of our age, which means that other types of writing are often quietly ignored. How often does Waugh’s wonderful biography of Edmund Campion appear on reading lists alongside Brideshead Revisited and The Sword of Honour trilogy, for example? However, it was not all that long ago that literature meant soContinue reading “Edmund Campion and Evelyn Waugh”

St Nicholas Owen: Priest-Hole Maker

St Nicholas Owen was a truly extraordinary figure. Born into a devout Catholic family in c.1562, he became a carpenter, rather than a priest like both his brothers. During the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I, he created hundreds of priest-hides (or priest-holes) in the homes of recusant families around the country.Continue reading “St Nicholas Owen: Priest-Hole Maker”

On hirpling and other great words

Yesterday I reviewed George Mackay Brown’s Pictures in the Cave but I didn’t mention his wonderful use of language. Brown certainly seemed to have some favourite words: “hirpling” appears twice in the book, for example, as does “lucent”. Other great words in Pictures in the Cave include “erne” and “crepitated”. So, with a little help from theContinue reading “On hirpling and other great words”

George Mackay Brown’s ‘Pictures in the Cave’

George Mackay Brown was a great but under-rated author. Though his last novel, Beside the Ocean of Time (which I wrote about in 50 Books for Life), was short-listed for the Booker Prize, Brown never really received the recognition he deserved for his novels, short stories, poetry, or children’s books. This is a real shame becauseContinue reading “George Mackay Brown’s ‘Pictures in the Cave’”

Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims

Clyde Robert Bulla has done a fine job of making the story of Squanto, the “Indian boy” who became a great friend to the Pilgrim Fathers, accessible to young readers. The book is intended, I guess, for children aged roughly 6-10 and so both the vocabulary and the structure are kept relatively simple. Nonetheless, theContinue reading “Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims”

Exciting news about my first children’s novel

I’m really delighted to announce that the wonderful Cranachan is going to be publishing my first children’s novel next year. I’ll write more soon but here’s the press release: Scottish publisher Cranachan has signed author Roy Peachey to its middle-grade imprint, Pokey Hat, for his debut children’s title, The Race. The dual narrative, which willContinue reading “Exciting news about my first children’s novel”

Introducing a new reading group

Now that we have lots of time to read, I am pleased to introduce a new reading group that focuses on children’s books. In this first episode I introduce the group and our first book – Hilda van Stockum’s The Mitchells: Five for Victory.