Books: Spoken Word

by Christina Hardyment
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The Independent Culture
Charlotte Gray

by Sebastian Faulks

Random House, 6hrs, pounds 11.99

Sebastian Faulks's new novel continues his delicate sentimental journeying in France, this time against the background of the Second World War. Bottled up by a mysterious childhood experience, Charlotte feels both compassion and passion for the tortured pilot Peter Gregory. It leads her not only to emulate his forays into enemy territory but to risk her life by staying there to find him when he's reported missing. But the success of their reunion depends on the way Charlotte's experiences in France enable her to confront her father. Although the four cassettes are a generous abridgement, read sensitively by Samuel West, I felt it had to thin down a subtly plotted, cathartic novel into a mere thriller.

The Calendar

by David Ewing Duncan

HarperCollins, c 3hrs, pounds 8.99

Forget the millennium. The year 2000 will be 1997 according to the actual date of Christ's birth, 2753 according to the old Roman calendar, 5760 for Jews, 1420 for Muslims, and 2544 for Buddhists. David Ewing Duncan's The Calendar, read by David Jacobi, begins by disorientating the listener. Why do we have 60 seconds in a minute and 24 hours in a day? Why seven, rather than ten days in a week? Then it explains the fascinating story, a mixture of mathematics, astrology, history and religion, of how civilisations experimented, borrowed and stole ideas on dividing time up into manageable morsels.

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