Saturday, 22 August 2015

John Ball's In The Heat Of The Night by Matt Pelfry / Dona Barbara by Romulo Gallegos / Because She Loves Me by Mark Edwards

John Ball's In the Heat of the NightJohn Ball's In the Heat of the Night by Matt Pelfrey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

John Ball's In The Heat Of The Night is my second LA Theatre Works audio play this summer, both downloaded thanks to the wonderful AudioSYNC programme. This powerful drama of racial segregation and bigotry in 1960s Alabama paired with the Victorian-era farce that was The Explorers Club really show off the versatility of the company and I am certainly interested to hear more of their work - or maybe even get to see a production one day!

The novel In The Heat Of The Night was made famous by the Sidney Poitier film of the same which I don't think I've ever seen. For this stage production, playwright Matt Pelfry returned to the original novel and, for legal reasons, wasn't allowed to put in anything from the film that wasn't initially in the book so the two have significant differences. The interesting interviews at the end of the play discuss this issue as well as other problems caused by effectively producing theatre for radio.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the play. The strong characters are convincingly played by an excellent cast and it was generally easy to keep up with who was doing what. The murder investigation at the heart of the piece does take second place to the outrageous attitudes of the white townsfolk and police to the presence of a black police officer. It was interesting to hear the audience reactions to the more vicious dialogues and their uncertainty about laughing at humorous moments within the context of such a shocking play.

Buy the paperback from Waterstones.

Doña BárbaraDoña Bárbara by Rómulo Gallegos
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received a copy of Dona Barbara as a free ebook download from the University of Chicago Press after I saw their monthly book giveaway mentioned on Peggy Ann's blog. A classic in Venezuela where the book is set and written by a former president there, the novel of cowboy life on the Plains looked like it should be an interesting read. Unfortunately I often found myself struggling to keep ploughing through the book. I like Latin American fiction generally, but I couldn't get into this one. Descriptions of the landscape are nicely done and occasional scenes caught my attention which is why I did keep reading to the end. However, I thought the majority of the characters were two-dimensional and unrealistic. Perhaps a lot has been lost in the translation from the original Spanish because readers in that language seem to rave about Dona Barbara. Personally I was disappointed.

Buy the paperback from Waterstones.

Because She Loves MeBecause She Loves Me by Mark Edwards
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A friend on Google+ recommended Because She Loves Me last year and I put it on my Amazon wishlist. Fortunately I decided to look through that list a week or so ago, on the very day that the novel was in the 99p Kindle Daily Deals. I keep thinking I should probably sign up for the Kindle Daily Deals email, but I can't read fast enough to get through all the books I already have!

A creepy thriller, Because She Loves Me is fluidly written with only a few inconsequential typos. The story examines themes of jealousy and possessiveness asking where to draw the line between normal behaviours and obsession. It is an easy read which would be ideal for taking on holiday. I wasn't convinced by the central relationship between Andrew and Charlie, and there were too many jumps in the plotline for my liking. Some of the characters are more strongly created than others. Tilly is good, but Andrew seemed overly credulous and naive. Oh, and I really didn't like the ending which suddenly swerved in and lacked depth!

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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