A Legacy of Spies

The other year, in preparation for a novel I hoped would have more intrigue and action than I was used to writing, I decided to break with my comfort zone and read a few spy novels to deconstruct the genre and see how the action was set up and paced. I’d read a James Bond novel once and was less than impressed; the movies I loved so much were horribly dull novels, and the book-Bond looked much more like Truman Capote than any pretty-boy actor.

I didn’t want to waste time, so I Googled “best spy novels”, and one of the top two on almost every list was John LeCarré’s 1974 novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, so that was the one I read first.

The lists were right. The book was brilliant, and I couldn’t put it down. After that I rushed out to watch the 2012 BBC film version, an incredible cast including Toby Jones, Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt, Tom Hardy, and more – which was still excellent, though some people prefer the 1979 mini-series adaption with Alec Guinness (that’s Obi Wan Kenobi to some of you). The strangest part was that, while reading the book, I had already cast Toby Jones in one of the roles in my head  –  but as Peter Guillam, though, not Percy Alleline as he was in the film.

Why so good? Well, see – like Ian Fleming, John LeCarré (real name: David Cornwell; spies aren’t allowed to use their real names to publish novels) was an actual British spy in World War II, so he knows the ins and outs and tiny little details of how the game is played, layers upon layers of secrets and trades and double-dealings. He’s lived it first hand, and that makes all the believable difference. He began writing novels in 1961 (Call for the Dead), but it wasn’t until his third novel in 1963, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, that he hit the best-seller list and wound up quitting MI6 (the British Secret Intelligence Service) to pursue writing full time.

While all of us sit here and think, why would you quit being an awesome spy to write books?

But LeCarré certainly is good at it, with more than 24 novels to his name, almost all of them best-sellers. Several have been made into successful film adaptions, including The Constant Gardener (2005), starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965) starring Richard Burton, and the recent delicious adaption of The Night Manager (2016), starring Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie, a book that reads more like a James Bond adaption than a Bond novel does.

Unable to sit still in retirement, LeCarré, now 86, has pumped out yet another novel last year, A Legacy of Spies, a conclusion of sorts for George Smiley’s people, his ex-agent who keeps coming back. Pulling his best-loved characters from so many of his novels, LeCarré manages to weave them together with new characters in present-day, finding new depths and bringing new truths to light, even after 50 years. LeCarré shows that time has not diminished him nor his characters, and if you think you know how it will end, like all of his works, it’s pretty well guaranteed you don’t.

Give le Carré a try. If you like mystery, espionage, intrigue, and unraveling puzzles with characters who won’t let you go, then you’ll love his work. If you haven’t tried him, he’s a wonderful place to begin to explore the genre. For modern novels, he’s rather clean, without a lot of graphic violence or sex or language, perhaps making the stories even more remarkable. Start with Legacy of Spies and work backward, or start at the beginning and work forward. If you prefer to watch rather than read, there are more than ten films, five television adaptions, and four radio plays to keep you entertained. You’ll be so glad you did.

10 Royal Reads

On May 19, Britain’s Prince Harry will marry his American love, Meghan Markle. The Royal Wedding will take place at 12pm (7am ET) at St. George’s Chapel,  Windsor Castle. If your invitation got lost in the mail, you can celebrate along with the rest of the world, as the royal festivities will be broadcast online and on several television stations (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and HBO will all have coverage, among others). We’re even having a Royal Tea Party here at CPL!

To help us all get into a regal mood, we’ve made a list of royal reads to set the proper tone:

The Royal WeThe Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. Unexpectedly falling for the crown prince Nicholas while attending Oxford, practical-minded Bex endures ritzy society gatherings, fashionable outings and unwelcome publicity as well as jealous ex-girlfriends and dark royal family secrets.

The SelectionThe Selection by Kiera Cass by Kiera Cass.  An America Singer is chosen to compete in the Selection–a contest to see which girl can win the heart of Illea’s prince–but all she really wants is a chance for a future with her secret love, who is a caste below her.

Royal WeddingRoyal Wedding by Meg Cabot by Meg Cabot. In the first adult installment of the Princess Diaries series, Princess Mia and longtime boyfriend Michael plan their wedding, while a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne because of a royal secret.

Romancing the ThroneRomancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney by Nadine Jolie. When a scandal at her all-girls school threatens her university prospects, Libby enrolls in her sister Charlotte’s posh boarding school, where they become rivals for the affection of their classmate–the heir to the throne of Britain.

Once Upon a PrinceOnce Upon a Prince by Rachel Kauck by Rachel Hauck. Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s an ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation. It’s the ultimate choice: His kingdom or her heart?

The White QueenThe White Queen by Philippa Gregory by Philippa Gregory. A tale inspired by the War of the Roses follows the conflict from the perspective of Elizabeth Woodville, who ascends to royalty and fights for the well-being of her family, including two sons whose imprisonment in the Tower of London precedes a devastating unsolved mystery.

Anne Boleyn : a King’s ObsessionAnne Boleyn: a King's Obsession by Alison Weir by Alison Weir. Henry VIII risks his marriage and the political strategies of Cardinal Wolsey in his obsession with Anne Boleyn, who does not welcome the king’s advances and loathes the cardinal for breaking her betrothal to Harry Percy.

Victoria by Daisy GoodwinVictoria by Daisy Goodwin. Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world.

Wolf Hall Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel by Hilary Mantel. Assuming the power recently lost by the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell counsels a mercurial Henry VIII on the latter’s efforts to marry Anne Boleyn against the wishes of Rome, a successful endeavor that comes with a dangerous price.

Elizabeth IElizabeth I by Margaret George by Margaret George. Growing up at the side of her cousin, Elizabeth I, Lettice Knollys struggles to regain power and position for her family while competing against the queen for the love of Robert Dudley, a rivalry that is set against a backdrop of the flourishing Elizabethan age.

 

 

Shakespeare Imagined: The Bard in Fiction

Who was William Shakespeare? Some folks think we know, others have doubts. Was Edward de Vere, Earl of the Oxford, really the Bard of Avon? Was it Christopher Marlowe? Or someone one else? Although new evidence points to the William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon as the author of the plays,  there will always be speculation.

Whether or not you believe he was the son of a merchant who grew to become the most well-known playwright of all time or someone else, we all remain fascinated by his life. Many authors have re-imagined Shakespeare’s life and characters and the results are riveting! Shakespeare’s legacy is unique, his reach unparalleled. Try some of these works of fiction that feature either Shakespeare or one of his characters.

 The Secret Life of William Shakespeare by Jude Morgan
There are so few established facts about how the son of a glove maker from Warwickshire became one of the greatest writers of all time that some people doubt he could really have written so many astonishing plays. When and how did he become a genius? This novel  imagines the private world of the master bard and chronicles the transformation of an unwilling craftsman and resentful son into a husband, father and genius playwright in Renaissance London.

 

 Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey
A retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest told from Miranda’s perspective as the magus’ isolated daughter, who finds solace and companionship with her father’s savage servant, Caliban. We all know the tale of Prospero’s quest for revenge, but what of Miranda? Or Caliban, the so-called savage Prospero chained to his will? In this incredible retelling of the tale, Jacqueline Carey shows readers the other side of the coin–the dutiful and tenderhearted Miranda, who loves her father but is terribly lonely. And Caliban, the strange and feral boy Prospero has bewitched to serve him.

 

 Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold by Margaret Atwood
Felix, the artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival, is staging a Tempest like no other that will it boost his reputation. Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And brewing revenge. After 12 years revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theater course at a nearby prison. Here Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him.

 The Tutor by Andrea Chapin
Another novel starring Shakespeare.  The year is 1590, and Katharine de L’Isle , a widow, is living at Lufanwal Hall, the  manor of her uncle, Sir Edward when a new schoolmaster arrives from Stratford, a man named William Shakespeare. Coarse, quick-witted, and brazenly flirtatious, Shakespeare swiftly disrupts the household and soon Katharine finds herself drawn into Shakespeare’s verse, and his life, in ways that will change her forever.

 Juliet’s Nurse by Lois Leveen
A new telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, from the perspective of Juliet’s nurse. In Verona, a mother mourning the death of her day-old infant enters the household of the powerful Cappelletti family to become the wet-nurse to their newborn baby. As she serves her beloved Juliet over the next fourteen years, the nurse learns the Cappelletti’s darkest secrets. Those secrets– and the nurse’s deep personal grief– erupt across five momentous days of love and loss that destroy a daughter, and a family.

 The Gap of Time: The Winter’s Tale Retold by Jeanette Winterson
The Winter’s Tale tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his beautiful wife. His daughter is found and brought up by a shepherd on the Bohemian coast. In The Gap of Time, we move from London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crisis, to a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia. The story is one of childhood friendship, the power of jealousy, and the redemption and enduring love of a lost child.

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in May

This May brings a lot of changes to CPL, in both staff and surroundings. Our remodeling project continues on the lower level, and we say good-bye to some key staffers as we head into our busiest season. We will continue to bring you as many awesome programs as we can throughout it all – here are some of the events on the schedule for May:

various computers and electronic devicesDrop-In Tech Help

  • 1:00  –  3:00 PM:
  • Tues. May 1
  • Wed. May 9
  • Wed. May 16
  • Mon. May 21
  • Wed. May 30

Do you have questions about your computer, smartphone, or iPad? Do you need help navigating Facebook or downloading an ebook? Bring your technology-related questions and problems to Cheshire Public Library’s Drop-In Tech Help.  Tech help is available on a first come first served basis, and may be limited to 15 minutes per person. Please be sure your device is fully charged beforehand.

Managing Back Pain

Tuesday May 1, 2018, 6:30 PM

Resolving or managing neck and back pain can greatly improve quality of life. Recent developments in healthcare provide relief for acute, chronic and cancer-related pain, to enable a happier, healthier life. In this interactive session, Board-certified Neurosurgeon Judith L. Gorelick, MD, and Board-certified Pain Management Specialist Tamer B. Ghaly, MD  discuss recent developments in surgical and non-surgical treatments for neck and back pain nand  interventional techniques to manage pain and avoid or significantly reduce the use of opioids. Registration is required.

Scrabble board and game piecesScrabble Afternoons

Wednesdays,  May 2, 9, 16, 23, 12:30-2:30 PM

Bring your friends, family and join your community in a game of scrabble.  Please bring your up to date library card to check out a scrabble board located at the Checkout Desk.

"May the Fourth be With You" Star Wars Day logoLibrary After Hours – Star Wars Edition!

Friday May 4, 2018, 5:00  –  7:30 PM

MAY THE ‘FOURTH’ BE WITH YOU!  Jedi Younglings and Padawan will learn the ways of the force with the Olympic Taekwondo Academy from 6:00-7:00pm.  Face painting, special crafts, and a photobooth will be available from 5:00-7:00pm. Pizza and drinks will be available for sale by the Friends of the Library.  There is no admission fee, but there is a suggested donation of $5 per family to help offset costs.  Registration is required so that we know how many goodies to have! (Please note that the Lower Level of the Library will not be open to the public. )

Jean Bauer with her dog Rudy, and her book "Joy Unleashed"The Gift Of Therapy Dogs: Remembering Bella, Meeting Rudy

Saturday May 5, 2018, 11:00 AM  –  12:30 PM

What exactly is a therapy dog? What do they do? Come hear author and speaker Jean Baur, and her new therapy dog, Rudy. Jean wrote a book about her first therapy dog, Bella:  Joy Unleashed:  The Story of Bella, the Unlikely Therapy Dog. Bella worked for six years, visiting nursing home and hospital patients as well as going to schools and colleges. Jean will share Bella and Rudy’s stories, how she trained them, and most importantly explore with us what they do and why they’re so good at it.  Copies of Jean’s book will be available for sale. Children are welcome, but please leave your fur friends at home. Registration is required.

Kids Crafternoon: Huichol String Art

Saturday May 5, 2018, 3:00  –  4:00 PM

Create your own yarn painting inspired by the Huichol tribe of Mexico!

Eastern coyoteEastern Coyotes in Connecticut

Monday May 7, 2018, 6:30  –  8:00 PM

This presentation focuses on the history of coyotes in Connecticut, an overview of coyote habitat, diet, behavior, and reproduction.  It also provides practical recommendations for optimum coexistence with our coyote population.  Coyote artifacts will be shared with the audience. Registration is required.

Cheshire Library Director Ramona Burkey and Head of Children’s Services Lucas FranklinReception for Ramona Burkey and Lucas Franklin

Wednesday May 9, 2018, 4:00  –  6:00 PM

Join us in saying farewell to two wonderful staff members who are leaving Cheshire for new positions, Library Director Ramona Burkey and Head of Children’s Services Lucas Franklin. Visit with your favorite Cheshire librarians and enjoy refreshments, including a show-stopper of a cake from our friends at Cheshire Baking! Simple activities and crafts will be available for our youngest guests. Please register so we know how many goodies to have!

Phil Klein with a white dogCertified Dog Listener, Phil Klein

Thursday May 10, 2018, 6:00  –  8:00 PM

Learn how canines see the human world,  the importance of eye contact and movement in canine communication, the underlying reasons for your dog’s behavior problems.  The best news – learn the simple, dog-friendly changes in how to interact with your dog to transform its behavior in a kind and lasting way. In doing so, you will have a calmer, happier dog and a more enjoyable relationship with it. Registration is required for this program, please bring your questions but not your pets.

Black Bear with a cubThe Bear Reality

Monday May 14, 2018, 6:30  –  8:00 PM
The black bear population in Connecticut has continued to increase since the 1980. It’s important for residents and outdoor enthusiasts to learn real facts about black bears enabling them to stay safe, protect themselves and their property and make possible coexistence with bears. Felicia Ortner, a Connecticut Master Wildlife Conservationist (MWC) and a bear enthusiast, will provide education and facts about bears and help dispel myths and common misunderstandings. Registration is required.

civil war soldier with a Newfoundland dofAnimal Mascots of the Civil War

Thursday May 17, 2018, 6:30  –  7:30 PM

The Civil War was fought by citizen armies that often had their own, very un-military, ways of fighting. One thing they did was to bring or adopt animals of many kinds. This talk will focus on those much-loved unit mascots. Professor Hamish Lutris, History, Capital Community College, presents the idea of using animals to represent military units throughout history will be discussed, as well as the particular animals honored in Civil War lore and memorialization. Registration is required.

royal wedding photos of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince William and Kate Middleton, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of EdinburghRoyal Tea Party

Saturday May 19, 2018, 1:00 PM

The Royal Public Librarians of Cheshire request the honor of your presence at our Royal Tea Party in celebration of the British Royal Wedding!  Have your picture taken at St. George’s; participate in royal wedding trivia and a best fascinator contest. Enjoy tea and treats.  A video presentation of past royal weddings will be showed as well.   Please bring your favorite teacup! Registration will begin Saturday, May 5, and  is required for this adult program.

Adios, Chanel! DIY Herbal Perfume

Tuesday May 29, 2018, 6:00 PM

Ditch your store-bought perfume! Most contain dozens of chemicals that do not have to be disclosed on the label. Become a mad scientist! Experiment with base fragrances, mid-tones, and top notes to create your own scent. The mother-daughter team of Velya Jancz-Urban and Ehris Urban are back to teach us, hands-on, how to make our own signature scent. Each participant will leave with a unique, new personal perfume. Sitting is very limited and registration is required.

SYNC Up Free YA Audiobooks This Summer

Sync audiobooks for teens, sponsored by Audiofile magazine

What if I I told you that you could download 26 audiobooks this summer, and keep them as long as you want,  FOR FREE? It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not. The SYNC Summer Reading program has been giving away free YA (also known as Teen, but adults love them, too) downloadable audiobooks all summer long since 2010, and they’re at it again this year.

Starting April 26, 2018, SYNC will give away two complete unabridged audiobook downloads per week – pairs of high interest titles, based on weekly themes. This awesome program is sponsored by Audiofile Magazine and titles are delivered though OverDrive.

SYNC titles aren’t part of the library’s regular OverDrive collection, however. They are part of a separate collection from audiobooksync.com. Head to their website to preview the titles that will be available this summer. The first two titles, available April 26 – May 2, are The Great War : Stories Inspired by Items From the First World War and A Study in Charlotte: a Charlotte Holmes Novel by Brittany Cavallaro.

What do you need to know about SYNC?

1)  Each pair of audiobooks is available for 1 week only. Per agreement with the publishers, the free audiobooks are not available after their original Text synca to 25827download week. The files are available from Thursday morning 7am Eastern Time until the following Thursday morning at 7am Eastern time, when the new audiobook titles become available. You may download more than once if you have more than one device. You can sign up for Text Alerts when new books become available, so you won’t miss out. Text  synca to 25827 or visit audiobooksync.com to arrange alerts.

OverDrive app icon2) You’ll need to have the original OverDrive app (not the newer Libby app) to download the SYNC audiobooks. You can listen to the audiobooks directly through the OverDrive app, download and transfer from Windows or Mac computers to MP3 compatible players.

3)  The audiobooks you download are yours to keep, but bear in mind they can take up a lot of space on your mobile device. If you are using a mobile device SYNC iconlike a smartphone or tablet to listen to the audiobooks, it is recommended that you download to a computer and transfer the audiobooks over as you want to listen to them.  When you’ve finished a title, you can then delete it from your device but still keep the original file on your computer for as long as you want.

Take advantage of this opportunity to build up a collection of quality YA audiobooks, absolutely free. Just think of how you can expand your reading time by listening in the car, around the house, waiting in line. Multitasking was never so enjoyable!