Friday, July 18, 2008

Visit phantom Great Britain from your armchair

Lochdubh, the sleepy Highlands town of P.C. Hamish MacBeth, has the usual petty small village crimes of poaching, and disturbing the peace. But there's also an unusually high murder rate, which he finds really annoying, since he doesn't want to work too hard, and would rather go fishing, or have a pint.
Death of a Gossip is the first in the series, which has improved with age. The most recent in the series, which is up to #24, is Death of a Gentle Lady.
Hamish MacBeth's character became the genesis of a popular BBC TV series, starring Robert Carlyle, that was filmed in the real town of

Llanfair, in mountainous North Wales, is home of P.C. Evan Evans (yep-not a typo),
who comes there seeking a peaceful existence after a personal trauma.
Evans Above is the first of 10 titles in the series, which is on hiatus as the author, Rhys Bowen, concentrates on other series.

Somewhere in the Cotswolds, former London advertising executive, Agatha Raisin, retires and buys a cottage. She pays someone else to decorate it. She doesn't like to garden or cook, either. She's got lots of money, and lots of time on her hands.
Somehow, she just can't get the hang of village life.
Used to competitive corporate ways, she tries to cheat her way into acceptance by winning a food contest at the annual fair in
Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death. Agatha takes a lot of lumps over the course of 17 mysteries so far, as she learns, or rather, unlearns, how to live. She also discovers lots of dead bodies, and makes a lot of enemies along the way. But Agatha is a survivor. She's also determined to have a man in her life. Agatha, off-putting and maddening, has a lot of fans.

Tilling, Sussex a small coastal town, is the setting for the fiercely funny episodes of the (ahem) ladies, Mapp and Lucia, who vie for social prominence as they one-up each other at fests and dinner parties. Penned by E. F. Benson in the 1930's, these were also made into a BBC series in the 1980's. Social snobbery at it's finest.

Miss Read is the author of two series that occur in the small villages of
Thrush Green and Fairacre. The unmarried school teacher of the village, named "Miss Read" becomes involved in the lives of the villagers through her students. Gentle reads of life long past, these timeless tales are said to have influenced Jan Karon, among others. More relaxing than a vacation in a cabin on the lake.

Before there were any of these series, Anthony Trollope created the Chronicles of Barsetshire, a fictitious Cathedral town in 6 novels tracing the manners and maneuvers of the gentry in 19th century England.
Barchester Chronicles on DVD, starring a very young Alan Rickman, incorporates the first two novels by Trollope. Parts of this were filmed in the beautiful cathedral town of Peterborough.

Cranford, based on three novels by Elizabeth Gaskell,is a market town in northwest England in 1842. It is a place governed by etiquette, custom and above all, an intricate network of ladies. It seems that life has always been conducted according to their social rules. For spinsters Deborah Jenkyns, the arbiter of correctness, and Matty, her demurring sister, the town is a hub of intrigue. Handsome new doctor Frank Harrison has arrived from London; a retired Captain and his daughters move in across the street and preparations for Lady Ludlow's garden party are underway. The town has some secrets which are about to be revealed. But news comes that shakes the town, a railway line from Manchester is coming to Cranford.