Book Review: Everyone in their Place by Maurizio De Giovanni

Naples 1931, and the beautiful Duchess of Camparino has been found dead of a gunshot wound…or was she smothered? It is up to the solitary Commissario Riccardi and his partner Brigadier Maione, to solve the crime while dealing with their own personal issues.

First Sentence – ‘The angel of death made its way through the fiesta, and nobody noticed’. There is nothing better than an opening which is both compelling and evocative. What is particularly clever is that throughout the story, we have the diary entries of a nameless character. Just when we think we’ve identified the writer; another hint is dropped and we are sent off in a different direction. 

The cast of characters is extensive, yet each character is fully developed and distinct. None are perfect. The most intriguing is Riccardi, who has the gift, or curse, of “the Deed”; the ability to see those who have died by violence—accidents, murder, or suicide—in the last few second of their lives and to hear their final words or thoughts. This ability isolates him from all but a few people. At his side, and ever loyal, is Maione who is married with 5
children, Doctor Modo the medical examiner and Rosa, Riccardi’s childhood nanny who still looks after him.

While the story structure is typical police procedural, it is so much more than that. It is a character-driven novel which is very much about relationships; love, insecurities, passions, and the acts to which one can be driven by love and desperation. The author meshes the characters with the story so skilfully; we feel part of the community.

Yes, the translation can feel awkward at times, particularly the dialogue, but that is easily
forgiven. The quality and complexity of the story overcome any other shortcomings. 

“Everyone In Their Place” is a story of passion and human weakness which was highly recommended by our group of readers, many having gone on to read other titles in the series.

Pat Mutton

Review: Open Gardens

The village hall committee would like to say a very big thank you to everyone who made the Open Gardens event, over 2 days, a brilliant success and a very enjoyable and memorable occasion.

So many people worked hard to created beautiful gardens, plants to sell, books, honey, garden tools, pots, art work, crafts tombola and delicious teas. Of course many helped to advertise, move chairs and tables, prepare scones and cakes, put up bunting and balloons, direct traffic and help car parking.

Our weekend produced a handsome profit of £2,500 which is a huge help towards our needs for the refurbishment and extension of the village hall.

Thanks you so much

Ros Plested

Review: St Michaels Village Open Gardens

An alternative to the Village Fete? This was the subject of a village hall committee meeting many months ago. Quite a departure but recent attendances to the annual fete had been declining, not helped by
inclement weather and the fact that fetes involve a lot of work!
An additional factor was the need to raise money to fund the proposed improvements to the Village Hall. These are extensive involving the entrance area and toilets for which planning approval has been obtained.

A separate committee was formed as considerable planning was needed for what was something never attempted before. The main consideration was what to do as St Michaels covers quite a large area.

The result took everyone by surprise and its success silenced the doubters.
Quoting the gardens to visit says it all. Woodland Garden, Rose Garden, the Rectory Garden, Work in Progress, Silver Tree & Pond, The Beekeeper’s Garden, Mayor’s Place, Children’s Garden, The Potting Shed, The Bookseller’s Garden, Cottage Garden & Golf and last but not least The Plantsman’s Garden. It was possible to spend an hour looking round the Plantsman’s Garden alone! In fact, many people paid visits on both days!

Obviously the starting point was the village hall where, in addition to buying a ticket, there was a variety of yummy cakes, cream teas, coffee and Pimms drink available. Additionally, there were arts and craft stalls, tombla and a display by Tenbury Floral Arts. The cooling Pimms drink proved very desirable on the Saturday, the hottest day of the year!

Many gardens offered additional attractions including a putting competition, croquet and slides and trampolining for the children. Others helped to raise funds including the sale of plants, second hand garden tools and equipment, honey and garden books.

The Woodland Garden was the furthest to reach along a bridlepath through beautiful countryside which involved a 10 minute walk. Well worth the walk however with its magnificent trees and the Cadmore brook running through it. An art exhibition by the St. Michaels Art Group was a bonus together with the generosity of the owner, running tired and overheated visitors back to the village hall in his car.

The fine weather was a help but the event attracted many who had not visited St Michaels before, some from as far away as Cornwall! Despite setting a special car parking area aside it became necessary to park along the roadside too, due to the huge attendance. The atmosphere and friendliness of everyone attending the event, be they villagers or visitors, was something to note. Is it something to do with gardens, gardeners and St Michaels? A substantial amount of money was raised!

The jury is out now…….…..after this huge success should the event be repeated next year?

Tony Penn

Reynard the Fox – Review

Well, what a surprise to welcome the wonderful Fabularium company with their fantastic story and presentation of Reynard the Fox.

The company arrived at 1pm and set up some wonderful scenery which filled a large rent a van, the headdresses were brushed and combed and musical instruments tuned!

This was our first try at entertaining the family from a theatre company, quite an adventure in itself and an experiment in our village hall.

At 4:30pm I couldn’t have told you whether or not we would have an audience or not but in the following 15 mins a lovely trickle of families entered the village hall and filled the seating in no time, a little like rent a crowd as 43 stated to watch a lovely story of the Rascal Reynard the fox, the lovable rogue of the forest.

The story telling style blended with puppetry, live music and song together with wonderful masks and many characters made for a lovely family show. Thank you to Fabularium and to you the audience for supporting.

Ros