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The View From the Downs


by Roger Linn


The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain


Chamberlain is a prolific American author who, until recently, was relatively unknown here, perhaps being overshadowed by popular Jodi Picoult who writes in a similar style. When Noelle, a popular and successful midwife, commits suicide her two best friends are left devastated and confused. As they set out to unravel Noelle’s past in order to understand why she took her own life, Tara and Emerson discover secrets and lies and the chilling realisation that they didn’t know Noelle at all. A gripping read with lots of twists and turns, some perhaps a little predictable, but overall an enjoyable novel.


spent most of the Bank Holiday weekend dressed as a monk. This was because I was working for my wife’s business at the Herstmonceaux Medieval Festival. It wasn’t arduous – being a monk, I mean – all you have to do is look solemn, stick your hands up your sleeves and occasionally bless people. The ones dressed as licentious medieval soldiery seemed to appreciate being blessed more than others, but I was struck by the curious behaviour of the Festival’s visitors. Although they must have known that I wasn’t a real monk, they completely entered into the spirit of the thing by ‘shushing’ children and standing respectfully to one side as I walked past. It’s something I could get used to very easily. Especially the ‘shushing’.


I


Dead Man’s Grip by Peter James


Local author Peter James is back again with this, the seventh outing for his Brighton based detective Roy Grace. The main appeal of this series, the familiar settings, likeable characters and a fairly gripping (if convoluted) and fast-paced plot


are retained but if, like me, you have read most of the earlier books, then you may well find this repetitive. The formula still works, just, but an eighth one? I’ll give it a miss. Perhaps it’s time to turn it into a TV series for one of those 50 channels.


The experience made me consider once again the English fondness for dressing up, and for forming special interest groups. And nowhere is it better demonstrated than at medieval events. Perfectly normal people, who shop in Tesco and secretly watch Celebrity Big Brother like the rest of us, become nappy-wearing peasants and buxom trollops from the Dark Ages. They live in tented encampments and are incredibly knowledgeable, so it’s important not to ask a simple question, because the answer will be fuller that you might have wanted. Indeed, asking one of them about his jerkin caused him to embark on such a detailed reply that I had to pretend to faint to get away. I went only as far as the riding arena, where the members of Ditchling Common Stud were performing Mounted Skill At Arms – daring horseback feats like tent-pegging with lance and sword, cutting cabbages in half and throwing javelins. The commentator, who had slipped forward in time and was dressed as a court person from some Tudor extravaganza, announced each of the exotically attired riders as they entered the arena. To my delight, the competitors who, during the working week are possibly accountants, housewives and airline pilots for all I know, had assumed more glamorous personas with titles like ‘Lady Whiplash’, ‘The Executioner’, ‘Maid of the Middle Ages’ and my personal favourite, ‘Madame Imbecile’. It was all very jolly and I was totally lost in the fantasy, until the Teutonic Knight I was talking to had to interrupt our conversation to answer his mobile phone. ■


SUSSEX LIVING October 2011


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