Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Listening to Cadfael

It is almost bedtime as I am writing this blog. Today I listened to an entire book! Obviously this book was a good deal shorter than the huge biography of George Washington I have mentioned before. I'm still only a little more than halfway through that one--I am in the post-Revolutionary War, but not yet to the uniting of the country under the Constution. I am taking Washington in bites rather than gulps.

The book I listened to today is A Morbid Taste for Bones, the first of the Brother Cadfael chronicles. I actually own the entire Cadfael series in real book form and have loved and read these books for many years. Now that I am investing in some recorded books through Audible, I find that books I love and have read for myself become a different sort of experience when I listen to them. I love to read for myself; I also love to hear a book read well.

If you have never read any of the Cadfael books, I would highly recommend them. They are mystery stories, but they are also historical novels. The author is Ellis Peters (a pen name for Edith Pargeter). She was an enormously accomplished woman, and I was saddened when I heard of her death at age 82 in 1995. No more of her books! At least the final Cadfael book ended in a satisfying place in the life of Cadfael. I suspect that the author probably knew it would likely be her last book.  (I once came across a book I liked by an American author whose name escapes me at the moment. Having read one book, I wanted to keep following the lives of her characters, but found there were only four books, because the author had died. That series did not end quite as neatly as the Cadfael books did. Since I've been reading books for a very long time, there have been quite a few of my favorite authors who have died or who have reached an age where they are no longer writing. Now I am reaching an age where I wonder if l'll live long enough to see the final book in one long saga that is still being written! )

Back to the subject of Brother Cadfael. A number of years ago there was a television series based on several of the Cadfael books (BBC I think, shown in the U.S. on Public Television stations). The TV episodes were good, although I felt the TV folks mishandled the way they wrote the young man, Hugh Beringar, who eventually becomes Sheriff and friend of Cadfael's. He was a very sharp cookie in the books (he does not appear until the second book), but TV made him seem like a bumbler. The Cadfael episodes are available through some of the streaming video suppliers on the Internet.

Cadfael doesn't have DNA, fingerprints, or any of today's scientific equipment. He finds answers through his acute observation, life experience, knowledge of human nature, and abundant common sense. For a good read (or listen!) visit the world of Brother Cadfael in 12th century England and Wales.

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