Spoken Word

True Read by Mark Bazeley | Friday's Child Read by Eve Matheson
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The Independent Culture

True Read by Mark Bazeley (Orion, 2hrs 45mins, £8.99) True, the autobiography of EastEnders bad boy Martin Kemp, has a paradoxically unreal feel about it. Maybe it's because we've been taught to so distrust "Steve" that we just know we can't believe anything he says, maybe it's because Kemp doesn't read his story himself. Yes, we do grudge him that, we've got so used to audiobook autobiographies offering that telling extra dimension. But as his extraordinary life unfolds, we become converted, not least because of the skill of reader Mark Bazeley in ghosting Kemp's voice.

This is a latter-day Pilgrim's Progress, rising from childhood as a young reprobate in working-class Islington to chart-topping fame of Spandau Ballet and the role of Reggie Kray in The Krays There's a fascinating account of the Kemp brothers meeting both Ronnie Kray and his mother. Then life goes downhill, sinking to hack Hollywood horror movies and the real horror of not one but two brain tumours, a journey into death only made bearable by his remarkably supportive wife Shirlie. After all that, no-one could possibly grudge him the limelight of Britain's most watched soap opera.

Friday's Child Read by Eve Matheson (Chivers, 13hrs 50mins, £16.95, mail order 0800 136 919) I used to keep rather quiet about my secret addiction to Georgette Heyer, but I have gathered confidence from her appearance among the authors of Carmen Callil and Colm Toíbín's The Modern Library, and feel I can now come out and applaud an author who was producing feisty female heroines long before the Virago imprint was dreamed of. Heyer was born in 1902, and wrote 57 novels. None of her plots is predictable (well, not for quite a long time in, anyway), and they are all very skillfully driven by the faults and virtues of the characters. All are deeply satisfying on the happy ending front. Escapism? Why not? They are certainly consistently well-furnished historically - I remember discussing her with a don at my university interview to read history. For those who feel as I do, it will be good news that Chivers have upwards of 20 of her titles in their huge list of unabridged books, all priced at around £16. Friday's Child, a "King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid" story of how rakish Lord Sheringham impulsively decides to marry his penniless cousin Hero Wantage in order to come into his fortune, is Heyer at her very best.

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