What a month June was. Much escapism needed from the drama of real-life during and post the EU Referendum.
I spent a lot of time re-watching series one of The Thick Of It. It left me wondering if political satire is now dead – if not where the hell do we go from here in this landscape of truth being much stranger than fiction. Nevertheless Doctor Who swearing for Scotland (in the form of the brilliant Peter Capaldi as Head of Comms Malcom Tucker) is one of the things guaranteed to brighten a dark day.
But some actual, real escapism was provided by this brilliant book: The Trilogy of Two by Juman Malouf. It’s billed as a YA novel but the themes are dark and Malouf never pulls her punches – you never feel she’s holding back for the sake of her audience. In the novel she creates an incredible dystopian world, where metal cities are spreading out slowly and taking over the planet. Twins Charlotte and Sonia live on the outskirts, as part of a circus where they play music. But when their ‘talents’ are stolen one day and they are forced on a quest to find them, and in the process they uncover a much bigger plot and learn much about themselves.
It’s a wonderful coming of age story and Malouf’s skill brings to mind Tolkein and Pullman. The difference for me is the emotion of the writing that draws you in and makes you really really care about the characters. I found myself very tearful in the last part of the book and that is a testament to the writing.
I’ve also spent much time watching new Danish series Dicte on More 4. Dicte is a crime reporter who has a very complicated personal life. As ever the Danes do brilliantly complex female characters splendidly and I don’t think it can be a coincidence that this is written by two clearly brilliant women – Dorthe Warnø Høgh and Ida Maria Rydén. It’s also lovely to have a cast of actors who I recognise from The Killing and Borgen. If you like your Noir Scandi and your female characters complicated this is for you.
July brings a little sadness as I can’t attend PalFest Ireland this year – but if you can you should – it will be brilliant and runs from 8-16 July. I’ve got this photo exhibition booked in by the amazing Ellie Kurttz, I’m going to Wimbledon (does that count as a cultural event?), and a pre Edinburgh preview of Octopus at the end of the month… and I’ve already seen a very interesting timely production of David Edgar’s Pentabus so it may be tough picking my 3 for July.