September’s theme for the Read Watch Play Twitter Group is #localread

Join the discussion this month about #localread. We will be focussing on all things local, or with a strong sense of place, in this #localread discussion (and it will be great as always to see what surprising ideas people include.)

Now, I may be dating myself, but I cannot hear the word ‘local’ without thinking of the 1990s TV show, the League of Gentlemen, which had a ‘local shop for local people’.

Do you feel like a local where you live? The child of a soldier, I never stayed very long in one place and the seemingly simple, “Where do you come from?” was a confusing question for me as a child. Did I say I came from the town we were currently living in England or Germany, or that I came from Scotland where I’d never lived before going to boarding school and university, or from Cyprus where I was born but where I hadn’t lived since I was 18 months? After 23 years where I live now I am just starting to feel like a local!

This month you could be reading about, and then exploring your local area. I’m lucky to live in the Blue Mountains in NSW, Australia. The local geography is stunning, the local community colourful and we have wonderful things to see and do in our area. Many thousands of tourists are attracted to our UNESCO World Heritage listed area every year. What are your favourite local haunts? Are they world-famous attractions, or secret places you cherish for personal reasons? Are there local foods, local land sharing schemes or ways to find out about local harvests in your area (try here too).

From Olympian Rock by JC Merriman

From Olympian Rock by JC Merriman

Does your local area have a Local Studies or Local History service? You’ll find they are a wonderful local resource, often collecting books, artefacts and ephemera which are unique. They are invaluable resources for authors, film-makers and family historians, among many others. Look up local stories in digitised newspapers for AustraliaNew ZealandSingaporeBritain (fees apply) and Denmark.

Has your local area got a ‘What’s on’ page on Facebook, Twitter or another social media site? Mine does and it’s a great source of information and inspiration on local events and local characters. The local newspaper, tourism body, local shops and businesses and local people all post and cross-post and you’re never stuck for somewhere to go or something to do – farmers markets, craft markets, local theatre productions, art gallery exhibitions, book launches and author talks, bush walks, meetings of various local groups, rallies and demonstrations, picnic places, information sessions, sporting events, music performances, poetry slams and so on.

The League of Gentlemen built a whole show around various nutty and slightly disturbing characters in the fictional town of Royston Vasey. Other popular TV shows with disturbing settings include the other great comedy show full of grotesques, Little Britain, and the dangerous town of Midsomer which has way way way more murders than a country town should.

When you need to escape your local place you can borrow someone else’s. Some authors too create strong associations with places, often their local places – Ian Rankin is synonymous with Edinburgh, Tim Winton with Western Australia, the Brontes with northern England, Jane Austen with Bath, Thomas Hardy with southwest and south central England, Dickens with London, CS Lewis with Narnia – the places don’t have to be real. Who are the authors associated with your place?

Carcassonne by Robbo-Man

Carcassonne by Robbo-Man

We play a board game called Carcassonne, based on the French walled city (also World Heritage listed). It’s great fun and we should have bought shares in the company because everyone we’ve played it with has gone out and bought their own. Carcassonne locals may not think the game anything like their town, but there are a whole lot of people I know who’d love to visit the town now. What other games are based on a locality? Sim City? World of Warcraft? What a way to lose yourself!

A car game we used to play with our children when they were little is “On my holidays I went to . . . “ You start with a place name beginning with A and then the next person has to say that place name and then add their own place name beginning with B and so on all the way through the alphabet. The place name beginning with X was usually the same because so few were known to us.

While you are reading, playing or watching your #localread, you might like to tweet about it using #localread #rwpchat so that other people can have a conversation with you about your #localread. You can add to the discussion on Pinterest too. You might like to post your photographs to Instagram or Flickr and use #localread #rwpchat so others can share in your reading, watching and playing.

There will be a Twitter discussion on 29 September starting at 8pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, 9pm New Zealand Time, 6pm Singapore Standard Time, 12 noon Central European Summer Time and 9am-11am; 2pm-4pm; 6pm-8pm BST.

Note : This is a staggered discussion.

The Great War and Silent Feature Film

Just how important to the war effort were the silent propaganda films of 100 years ago and how do they look to today’s audiences?

As part of History Week 2015, on Friday September 11, Blue Mountains City Library is offering a rare glimpse of some of these films and the opportunity to hear from an expert on how they affected not only the attitude to the war in Australia but the changing sense of national identity.Great War Silent Movie Talk Poster no details

Dr Bruce Dennett will describe how the young Australian film industry mobilised for war by producing feature films to support and endorse the war effort and discusses how this was one of the earliest examples of the power of narrative films to influence public opinion.

This year’s History Week theme is ‘War, Nationalism and Identity’. Dr Dennett will explore the meaning of these concepts as well as provide time for questions and discussion.

He has been a teacher for more than thirty years at the secondary and tertiary level and has particular expertise in the history of Australian silent film. He is the author and co-author of a dozen history textbooks published by Oxford University Press.

Presented by Blue Mountains City Library and The History Council of NSW.

Friday September 11 | 2.00pm to 3.00pm | Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub Springwood | A FREE event but bookings essential, please call any Library branch to book in.

Read Watch Play Twitter Group August 2015 #watchread

Twitter logo for RWPchat posts#watchread

There will be a twitter discussion next Tuesday 25 August on this month’s theme #watchread.

Join the rest of the world starting at 8pm Australian Eastern Standard Time,  9pm New Zealand Time, 6pm Singapore Standard Time, 8am GMT and 12 noon Central European Time. Note: this is a staggered start to the discussion.

Use the tags #watchread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of #watchread, so others can join in the conversation too.


Alison’s Picks – August 2015

Think forward to the days beginning to warm up again . . . we hope

These reading suggestions from Alison will perhaps will banish the cold.


Kent Haruf : Our Souls at Night

Sophie Laguna : The Eye of the Sheep

David Malouf : Being There: essays

Kazuo Ishiguro : The Buried Giant

Follow the links to find these titles in the Library catalogue.


August is Family History Month – Check Out Our Events

A Taste of Family History

Monday 17 to Sat 22 August | 10.00am to 1.00pm Daily | Springwood Library | Drop in

Just drop in  any morning during the above week to get A Taste of Family History. The Blue Mountains Family History Society will be giving free introductions to family history resources. Find out how to start tracing your family tree and learn how to research your personal family history. Poppies Pic

Discovering World War One Service Records: A Family History ‘How To’ Talk

Friday 28 August | 10.30am | Springwood Library | Places are limited so bookings are essential | Call any library branch

Library Manager, Vicki Edmunds, explains how you can use the Library’s family history resources to search for your family members’ undiscovered WWI Service Records.

The Dressmaker of Dachau by Mary Chamberlain

The Dressmaker of Dachau by Mary Chamberlain

London : The Borough Press, 2015.  329 pages

Found on the Adult Fiction shelves at CHAMBERLAIN

Plot summary  : The Dressmaker of Dachau by Mary Chamberlain is an intensely engaging historical novel written against a real historical background of the outbreak of war in Europe. Sweeping and poignant, this is a tale of one woman’s resilience despite tragedy. Beginning in Theed Street of London, Ada’s woeful journey begins on a promising note when she began to work as a seamstress and ‘modiste’ at Dover Street. But her life took a dramatic turn when she met Stanislaus von Lieben.

Full of life and hope for the future, the two love birds embarked on a journey that took them to Paris as the drumbeats of war grew louder. First at Gare due Nord, the two later moved to Boulevard Barbès. With the Nazis swiftly rummaging across countries and the two literally trapped in a foreign country. They escaped to Mons and then Namur in Belgium where Ada was left in the lurch when Stanislaus abandoned her. After shewas captured, Ada was taken to Dachau and ended up there as the Dressmaker of Dachau.

The Dressmaker of Dachau is a bittersweet novel with characters so life-like and their predicament totally unsettling. Reading about the desperation of Ada, one can only imagine how life is like during World War II. Author Mary Chamberlain painted a harsh yet realistic picture of the war years, and also about the holocaust. If you love a good historical novel with World War II as its background, you can bet this is one of the best. (Source :
Amazon books)

Review : A well written, gripping story full of intrigue and a passion for survival. Ada Vaughan’s character is the part you remember later for her passion, resolve, wrong choices and flaws.

An interesting insight into another side of the war and its consequences.

Reviewed by : Carolyn



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