When Serge spends an extortionate amount of money on an all white modernist painting, his close friends Marc and Yvan are baffled. But does their violent reactions to this provocative canvas mirror more dangerous antagonisms towards each other?
Art is a phenomenon and one of the most successful plays ever. Having opened in 1996, it took both the West End and Broadway by storm, won Olivier, Tony, Moliere and every other major theatre award, and has been packing in audiences worldwide for more than twenty years.
Soon to be heading to the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh Address: 2 Leven Street, Edinburgh South, EH3 9LQ Dates: 11th Feb 2019 to 16th Feb 2019 Times: Evenings 7.30pm, Matinees Wed & Sat 2.30pm
Serge played by Nigel Havers
Marc played by Denis Lawson
Yvan played by Stephen Tompkinson
Art is heading to The King’s Theatre in Edinburgh. It is worth the trip to see this award-winning, humourous and quirky play that has themes of art, friendship and tolerance. I first saw it in Glasgow Theatre Royal in 2018 with the same cast performing as this time (Stephen Tompkinson, Nigel Havers and Denis Lawson) and couldn’t believe my luck when it was touring outside London, so just had to go and see it. I highly recommend that anyone who missed it then, takes the opportunity to see it this time round.
Art is a fairly short play, which is unusual, but don’t let that put you off seeing it. You will be enthralled and have lots of fun. Time, I found, passed by so quickly that I couldn’t believe it had reached the end already. It has a lot of wit and substance to this play and it captured my attention from beginning to end. It is the perfect antidote to the darkness and cold of winter.
Art is a quirky, fun, feel-good play with a lot of substance. It is about 3 friends, played by Nigel Havers, Stephen Tompkinson and Denis Lawson It all begins with a piece of art. A white painting. The question is this: Is it really white or is it not? That is the debate that the 3 friends have between themselves. It’s enough to test any friendship. There is also the matter of relationships and outlooks of life, loved ones and family that strategically weave throughout this play.
There is a lot of humour in this play that sits very well with the poignancy that comes through and a good twist at the end, which left me feeling more than satisfied.
The format of the scenes and the writing of the play really is incredibly good. The acting is exceptional by all 3 actors. This is a must see play that has lots of fun and the actors themselves look like they have lots of fun on the stage performing Art too, which adds to a very comfortable, very natural feel to the performance.
So now is the time for you to have the most magnificent fun and see if the 3 friendships survive or not and what happens within their personal lives as well of course to enjoy the debate of the white painting.
Kings Theatre in Edinburgh 2 Leven Street, Edinburgh South, EH3 9LQ
*As an actor, Robert Daws has appeared in leading roles in a number of award-winning and long-running British television series, including Jeeves and Wooster, Casualty, The House of Eliott, Outside Edge, Roger Roger, Sword of Honour, Take A Girl Like You, Doc Martin, New Tricks, Midsomer Murders, Rock and Chips, The Royal, Death in Paradise, Father Brown and Poldark.
His recent work for the stage includes the national tours of Michael Frayn’s Alarms and Excursions, and David Harrower’s Blackbird. In the West End, he has recently appeared as Dr John Watson in The Secret of Sherlock Holmes, Geoffrey Hammond in Public Property, Jim Hacker in Yes, Prime Minister and John Betjeman in Summoned by Betjeman.
His many BBC radio performances include Arthur Lowe in Dear Arthur, Love John, Ronnie Barker in Goodnight from Him and Chief Inspector Trueman in Trueman and Riley, the long-running police detective series he co-created with writer Brian B Thompson.
Today I am giving you 2 reviews in 1. I don’t normally do 2 reviews together like this, but I read The Rock and The Poisoned Rock back to back and the 2 fit together nicely, although both books can be read as stand-alone too. So, I wanted to tell you about both books together.
The Rock. Gibraltar. 1966.
In a fading colonial house overlooking the Straits of Gibraltar, the dead body of a beautiful woman lays dripping in blood. The steel handle of a knife protrudes from her chest, its sharpened tip buried deep within her heart.
The Rock. Present day.
Detective Sergeant Tamara Sullivan arrives on The Rock on a three-month secondment from the London Metropolitan Police Service. Her reasons for being here are not happy ones and she braces herself for a tedious and wasteful twelve weeks in the sun.
After all, murders are rare on the small, prosperous and sun-kissed sovereignty of Gibraltar and catching murderers is what Sullivan does best.
It is a talent she shares with her new boss, Chief Inspector Gus Broderick of the Royal Gibraltar Police Force. He’s an old-fashioned cop who regards his new colleague with mild disdain.
But when a young police constable is found hanging from the ceiling of his apartment, Sullivan and Broderick begin to unravel a dark and dangerous secret that will test their skills and working relationship to the limit.
This is the first in this police procedural series. I had not read any of Robert Daws books before now, but having recently met him, I thought I would give them a go and from the beginning of the series. It is worth it! This first book is a novella, which is nice and different. It is shorter than an average sized book, but is a great introduction to Gibraltar and his characters, still containing an air of mystery and intrigue within the pages. The second in the series, which we will get onto shortly is more novel in size. Either way, they are both well-written and holds attention well.
The series is set in Gibraltar and this particular one begins in 1966. From the outset, the scene is set and rather well. It’s all very mysterious before the first chapter has even begun. The book then swings forward to the present day. It begins with familiar territory which Tamara Sullivan, a private investigator has to endure before taking off on the plane to Gibraltar. Readers will discover that it was never her intention to head to Gibraltar to work, but she was forced into a 3 month secondment there.
I would say not to be put off by the different timelines because they are skillfully written in such a manner that is far from confusing.
The scenery of Gibraltar is beautifully described. Robert Daws has clearly used all his knowledge of the Rock, which he has spent much time on, very well to capture interest in the place as well as the imagination.
Very quickly the story moves onto an intruder on a yacht. It makes for a fast-paced book.
The working relationship between Calbot and Sullivan and Broderick and Sullivan is quickly established and makes for a good read. Sullivan is a woman who can certainly stand up for herself when necessary and make her point, but in a likeable way.
Chief Superintendent C.S. Harriet Massetti and PC Bryant also make up the team of investigators and readers also get a good flavour of their personalities when they are introduced into the book.
The story later, transports readers to 5 months earlier in England. This works rather well in telling what actually happened to Sullivan and why she was seconded to Gibraltar instead of staying at the London MET where she could further her career in the city. It gives further establishment of her personality and how she does go off on a limb at times.
Martin Taveres is a character readers will feel the full force of emotion from due to the death of his loved as it so sensitively and skillfully written.
Later on readers return to 1966. It works and fits in well. The attitudes are realistic and it creates for a good and interesting back story to what was read in the present day.
The style of writing is distinctive and different from many other books, but I like it. I think it works and different and individual writing styles can only be a good thing and not something to be put off by.
For a quick read, this book does just the job. It is written well and has enough setting and drama within it, as well as good characterisation. It made me decide it was worthwhile investing the time to read more of this series.
Please continue reading onwards to discover the second book in this series.
______________________________ The Poisoned Rock By Robert Daws Rating: 5 Stars *****
With only five weeks to go before the end of her secondment to the Royal Gibraltar Police Force, D.S. Tamara Sullivan is enjoying life on the Rock. With one murder investigation successfully under their belts, Sullivan and her commanding officer, Chief Inspector Gus Broderick, settle down to regular police work under the sunny Mediterranean skies.
In London, the British Government has declassified a large number of top-secret files regarding British Military Intelligence operations during World War Two. One file, concerning espionage operations on Gibraltar, has been smuggled out of the U.K. to Spain. It contains information that will draw Sullivan and Broderick into the dark and treacherous world of wartime Gibraltar. A place where saboteurs and espionage plots abounded. Where double and triple agents from Britain, Germany and Spain were at war in a treacherous and deadly game of undercover operations.
As the summer heat reaches its zenith in Gibraltar Town, a film crew has arrived on the Rock to shoot a movie about one of the most enigmatic and legendary spies of the war years – ‘The Queen of Diamonds’. Starring Hollywood A-lister Julia Novacs and produced by local born film maker, Gabriel Isolde, it is the talk of the Rock.
It is only a matter of time before past and present collide and a dangerous battle begins to conceal the truth about the Rock’s poisonous wartime history. Detectives Sullivan and Broderick become caught in a tangled web of intrigue and murder that will once again test their skills and working relationship to the very limit.
The Poisoned Rock begins in 1942. It’s a whole new case within this series. There is a well thought out quote used from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at the beginning, which sets the scene up for what’s to come in excellent manner. Both books, although are part of a series, also work well as stand alone books. I would say the writing has improved within this book in terms of the flow of it, especially, but both are worth reading. Again, there is an excellent prologue, setting this scene for the rest of the book and a murder already committed. There’s no having to wait, wondering when the action to begin in these books.
There’s murder, offshore accounts, secrets and jeopardy within the well-written pages of this book.
The book spans seamlessly and effortlessly between the 40’s 60’s and Present day as well as a number of locations. Importantly, it all makes sense and flows easily when reading. It is well-constructed and the time frames are well-stated in each part and they all fit together well within the plot. There are also enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing within this book, which can be read as part of the series or it stands alone pretty well too.
Readers are quick to learn a little about Gibraltar’s Second World War history before being transported to the present day where Tamara Sullivan is still serving out her enforced secondment.
Within this book, there are secrets revealed of British Intelligence and a film crew filming about “The Queen of Diamonds” about a spy in the Second World War. There are creatively crafted twists and turns surrounding this mysterious spy and the film, showing that its mere creation has more to it than meets the eye.
There is much intrigue surrounding the film, creating just about enough tension… just who is the mysterious figure observing screenwriter, Josh Cornwallis? There’s also more than just film action surrounding the film’s producer – Gabriel Isolde. These scenes are written with complete believability, as you can imagine with the acting experience Robert Daws has and whatsmore it adds much to the storyline in a positive way.
The chapters of the book move the story onwards, effortlessly between the film set and the activities of Broderick and Sullivan. Throughout the book, remains an excellently written, sense of place. The more of these books that are read, the more you get a feel of Gibraltar.
This book, also however, also takes readers to a crime committed in Marbella after the victim, Krystle Changtai disappeared from Gibraltar. People who are not all they first seem to be… There is also more than just the glamour of designer dresses and shoes to contend with… adding to the intrigue of this captivating book.
Lech Jasinski is an interesting character who was a Polish soldier, serving in Iraq and we get a sense of his PTSD. There’s also more to him than what can possibly be first presumed. The characterisation of Lech is good, there’s enough written to create a tension and an air of mystery.
It’s not all about murder. Readers are treated to really being able to get to know more about the characters who work for the police service in Gibraltar in terms of their background, which I also enjoyed.
This series was optioned for TV and when reading the books, it is clear that they would be a good “fit” as it were. The chapters are written exquisitely and almost like they could be scenes.
All in all, Robert Daws has created books with mystery, intrigue and an air of beauty in terms of the setting and all fit together very well indeed to create a compelling and very readable series!
These are all the books at time of writing that are within this series. A Rock Ghost Story is completely stand-alone.
*I thank Robert Daws for allowing me to take his photo at the Morecambe and Vice Festival and for kindly allowing me to use it on my blog. Please also note that my reviews are unbiased.
Books: The Rock
The Poisoned Rock
Author: Robert Daws
Publisher: Urbane Publications
Main Purchase Points: Amazon, Waterstones, Independent Bookshops, WH Smith
It’s a New Year and I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year and now things are back to normal…. well, in some sense anyway. I may have taken a break in some sense from my blog, but not completely. I have been busy networking with some authors. I have also taken time to get inspired and been thinking of different ideas, reading new books and more…
Tuesday there will be 2 reviews in 1…. Yes, 2 folks! I read a couple of books back to back that go together, but also stand alone pretty well too. Not my usual style, but I felt they were worth reviewing together. The books are by an actor who can write, and the more he writes, the better he becomes. There’s intrigue and murder to be had in the most unique and surprising of locations with great settings to be explored and many characters and time spans to be met.
So, I hope everyone is having a good week and as for me, Bookmarks and Stages well and truly resumes on Tuesday this week. At this point I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for supporting the blog thus far. It is now into its 5th month and I hope you all enjoy and get inspiration with what’s to come. Thank you!
So many of you have been following my blog here and from my Twitter and FB Page links. I would like to say thank you! All your support for my blog is always noticed by me and is very much appreciated! I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I am taking a break for the fortnight and reviews will resume in the new year.
A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft Rating: 5 Stars *****
About the Author
Sue Moorcroft writes award-winning contemporary fiction of life and love. The Little Village Christmas was a Sunday Times Bestseller and The Christmas Promise went to #1 in the Kindle chart. Her latest release, The Christmas Gift has also become The Sunday Times Bestseller this year (2018). She also writes short stories, serials, articles, columns, courses and writing “how to” guides.
An army child, Sue was born in Germany, then lived in Cyprus, Malta and the UK, and still loves to travel. Her other loves include writing (the best job in the world), reading and hanging out with friends, dancing, yoga, wine and chocolate.
One Christmas can change everything… Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.
To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there me more to him than meets the eye?
Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after all?
A Christmas Gift will put you into that festive spirit and give you that desire to stay warm and cosy with a good book. The cover deserves a mention here too. It’s bright, colourful, cosy and really draws the eye in. It is an excellent gift to give to someone, or indeed, treat yourself to. It’s warm and uplifting. Perfect for this time of year!
Just a few pages in and this book had already captured my attention. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a flimsy, syrupy book because of the title. This book is about life, right down to its deepest, darkest pockets, which is cleverly coupled with a lot of lightness throughout with Christmas joy and happiness. It has a lot of substance packed into what is an average sized, good paced book. It is emotive and with characters to really care about.
Sue Moorcroft has written a very enjoyable, entertaining, well-observed book that actually contains a lot of excellent, modern content; and yet all flows with consummate ease. There are twists and turns throughout with family relations, an ex-partner, bailiffs, a student theatre production, a band, a romance and of course a heartwarming Christmas atmosphere.
There are many characters due to the nature of the story, but don’t let that put you off, they are described well and you will get a good feel of their personalities very quickly and are easy for any reader to follow. They make the story more realistic due to the life and premise that weaves throughout this book so well.
Georgine France is the Events Director at Acting Instrumental – a performing arts college in Middledip. The college is putting together a musical theatre piece to showcase the student’s work. There’s clearly been a good amount of research as it is all realistically written with the different attitudes of people and what it takes to put on a show, which as this book shows, it takes a lot to pull a show off, even if it is a student production. I can see the detail that’s put into this work as I, myself get involved in amateur theatre, albeit front of house or backstage, but I’ve seen a fair bit. So, the way Sue Moorcroft has handled the piece was joyous. It is a bit like being able to take a peek of what goes on behind the scenes, but whether you’re involved or an audience member ot just like reading about life, there’s something for everyone here that will be found to be relatable to.
Sue Moorcroft has even thought of the audience for the show. I love that a Girlguiding group gets a mention. Being a former Girlguiding leader myself I can definitely say that it is so typical to do a fun outing of seeing a live show at Christmas with the girls. The fact they are even briefly written about, shows the thought and attention to detail that has gone into creating this book.
Georgine thought, when she successfully gained the Events Director position, all would be different. Little did she think she would be having financial issues to deal with and having to support her family.
This is a great premise and is set in so much reality for many with the great sounding job, but with the backdrop of other things happening in people’s private lives. It immediately drew me into wanting to know more about her life. It also shows very well, that no matter what the job title is, people are still people and have very real life issues to deal with, just the same as anyone with say, a lesser title. I find this keeps the main protagonist grounded in a way that makes her very likeable and relatable to.
Norman Ogden (Oggie) is the head/Principle of Acting Instrumental and an instantly likeable character with his very nice sounding personality and drive for wanting people to do well. Like all the characters, the impression of the type of man Oggie is understood very quickly.
One of the other main characters is Joe Blackthorn who is the new colleague at the college. He isn’t all who he first seems and as you read on, you will find out there’s much more to him. He leads a fascinating life, part of it is being part of a band, which readers will be treated to a very believable insight into. I enjoyed getting to know more about him, his life behind his work and his interactions with others. He wants a quieter life, but will he get it? He has a lot to contend with from the past to his present, including the very topical issues of the press, selfies and autographs. There is a small paragraph, which is thought-provoking and basically makes the point of seeking permission before taking a selfie with any celebrity and not to assume you will receive an autograph. It is a very current topic within this world.
There’s a beautiful love story that also develops between two characters (I won’t say who because that would spoil the intrigue). Let’s just say, it is written so tenderly and beautifully but also realistically, that it becomes part of the story that any reader would want to see if it develops further. I also like the portrayal that basically other aspects of life happens, some good, others almost heartbreaking, even when you’re caught up in the romance of a particular moment. I ended up really rooting for these characters to get it together and wanted to read more to see what happens and hoping they would.
I was left more than satisfied by how this meticulous, well-crafted, uplifting festive book concluded and how it had many twists and turns along the way.
It is also worth reading the acknowledgements because they are so interesting. Whether you have read her books before or not, then I highly recommend giving this one a try and finding out more about the characters living in Middledip.
*With thanks to Sue Moorcroft for providing a profile photo and for kindly allowing me to review her latest book, as well as contacting her publisher. I also thank her publisher – Avon Books UK (division of Harper Collins) for sending me a copy of her book.
Title: A Christmas Gift Author: Sue Moorcroft
Publisher: Avon Books UK (Division of Harper Collins) Pages: 370 pages Main Purchase Points: Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith, Foyles, Libraries to name but a few. ISBN: 978–0-00926007-1