Outlook 17
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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Parish Pump (5)
The new Father Brown? Sidney Chambers is privy to all sorts of revelations, and is expected to solve any problem. The vicar of a rural parish just outside Cambridge in the 1950s, he’s 32, a bachelor, and enjoys warm beer, jazz, cricket, Tolstoy and Shakespeare. This is the hero created by James Runcie in Sidney Chambers and The Problem of Evil (Bloomsbury, £7.99). The demands on the clergy are many, but Sidney, feeling obliged to live up to the expectations of his parishioners, reluctantly embarks on investigations into a suspected suicide, a jewellery theft, an unexplained death and an art forgery, opening up new lines of enquiry for his exasperated friend Inspector Geordie Keating. This is the third of six books planned for the series, The Grantchester Mysteries, and there will be a TV version. Charming and witty, the stories are also intelligent, quietly poignant and gently thought-provoking. There are wise observations on life and character, and even prayerful consideration of answers to the mysteries – it’s likely the end of the series will leave us begging for more! James Runcie draws on his own life (as son of former Archbishop Robert Runcie) to inform the stories and combines novel-writing with life as a film-maker, screenwriter and Head of Literature at London’s South Bank Centre. Hear him speak about Sidney Chambers and The Problem of Evil at Seckford Hall Hotel on Wednesday 14 May at 7.30 pm. Tickets £6 from Browsers Bookshop (Tel 388890). The Ark before Noah British Museum curator and world authority on ancient Mesopotamia, Irving Finkel (pictured), has had an astonishing itinerary of engagements in response to the publication of his book The Ark before Noah (Hodder, £25). With international attention from radio, television and the press, he will be speaking at all the major literary festivals. We were particularly privileged, then, to have him visit us in Woodbridge in February. He spoke with passion, humour and enthusiasm about receiving a cuneiform tablet from a member of the public at the Museum. The tablet revealed a new version of the Babylonian flood story, and gave detailed specifications for the size and shape of the Ark. And he was astonished when, after telling of his attempt with a film company to replicate the coracle-shaped ark described on the tablet, a lady in the front row revealed that she had her very own coracle at home! Catherine Larner