Saturday, February 4, 2023

Sarah Rayne

Sarah Rayne is the author of many novels of psychological and supernatural suspense, including the Nell West & Michael Flint series. She lives in Staffordshire.

Rayne's new novel is Chalice of Darkness, Book One of the Theatre of Thieves series.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
Admist the turmoils of the last few years, I’ve turned to old favourites, and there’s a remarkable reassurance in stepping into earlier eras.

I have re-read (for possibly the twelfth time), Broome Stages by Clemence Dane.

Clemence Dane was a highly thought-of novelist and playwright of her era. (Her best known plays are Will Shakespeare, Granite, and Bill of Divorcement). Broome Stages was written in the 1930s, and I discovered it many years ago, and lost an entire four-day bank holiday reading it. It’s a very long book – 700 pages – and spans the years between 1715 and 1930, covering seven generations of a theatrical family. The story begins with travelling players in tavern courtyards, and traces the family’s rise – through the fruity old Victorian actor managers who re-wrote Shakespeare to suit themselves, and into the early years of the 20th century, with the dawn of the early movies. It’s about the changing world of the theatre, but it’s also about the Broomes themselves – their loves and hates and feuds, and the building of a theatrical dynasty.

One of the reviews of the time had this to say:
Broome Stages is more than a novel. It is a social-history and a social-comedy, an epic. The genealogy is so intricately and ingeniously mapped and explained, they make that other famous family in fiction, Mr Galsworthy’s Forsytes, seem like a pack of Victorian upstarts.
The other novel that’s been to hand recently is The Hopkins Manuscript,(also published in an abridged version as The Cataclysm).

It’s by R C Sherriff, who’s probably best known for his classic play about the Great War, Journey’s End, and also his screenplays for famous films such as Goodbye Mr Chips, Home at Seven, and The Dam Busters.

The opening line of the book is a terrific hook:
When the Royal Society of Abyssinia discovered The Hopkins Manuscript two years ago in the ruins of Notting Hill, it was hoped that some valuable light would at last be thrown upon the final tragic days of London.
It’s the story, in first-person narrative, of a rather self-important, but ultimately surprisingly courageous and heroic retired schoolteacher, who finds himself caught up in cataclysmic events. The moon has veered off course, and is set to crash into Earth. The book is the story of how Edgar Hopkins and the people immediately around him, deal with this – in practical as well as emotional terms.
Visit Sarah Rayne's website.

Q&A with Sarah Rayne.

My Book, The Movie: Chalice of Darkness.

--Marshal Zeringue