Saturday, 5 February 2011

Faulks on Fiction: Yes, but what sort?

The BBC are celebrating 2011 as their Year of Books.  Quite why 2011 should be an important year for books I'm not sure.  In this house, every year is book year and we hadn't noticed that 2011 was more bookish than any other, but what ho, if the BBC wants to celebrate books we are more than happy to join them.

Rather ironically, given that there are demonstrations going on all over the country even as I write against the 400+ library closures coming about thanks to the government's funding cuts, the celebrations kick off this evening with the first in a series of programmes introduced by the author, Sebastian Faulks.  Faulks on Fiction will focus on four different character types in the English novel, starting with the hero and moving through discussions of the lover, the snob and the villain.

As is the BBC's wont, they have published an accompanying book and this morning I had an e-mail from one of our major book chains informing me that not only could I download the book itself for just slightly more than half price, but I could also claim four classics of English Literature free to go along with it.  Well, my kindle doesn't accept downloads from this particular company, but I thought if they were making this offer there was a fair chance Amazon was as well, so I nipped over to their site to see what was what.  

Amazon had the same offer, although it was rather more expensive.  They did, however, also claim to have a very much cheaper download of the Faulks without the accompanying novels and as I already have the other books concerned I eagerly clicked on the link,

only to find this:  yes, I was rather surprised too.  So, I went back to the original book + novel download and scrolled down the page.  The first part of the description was definitely about the Faulks but then I hit this:

Leanne inherits a halfshare in a former boarding school set in a remote part of Scotland. She gives up all that she knows to start her new life in the staff quarters of the school - then finds that the other owner, Adam, is a dominant male. His insistence on disciplining the erring female staff is at odds with Leanne's feminism and she's even more perturbed to find that she's aroused by watching the frequent punishments.
Setting this novel in a vast former boarding school gave me lots of scope for unusual castigatory settings. Miscreants are corrected in the staff rooms, classrooms and even the stables. The remoteness of the institute ensures that attractions build amongst the staff. The tension heightens when Adam, a first class advertising copywriter, starts to write copy for adult erotic toys - toys that, solely for the purposes of research, I forced myself to experiment with. These devilishly effective devices similarly take Adam's personal assistant, housekeeper, cook and other employees to their submissive depths and orgasmic heights.
Leanne initially tells herself that she'll have nothing to do with Adam's authoritative boundary-challenging sexuality, but her psyche and her libido have other plans.      

(Amazon website description (apparently) of Faulks on Fiction)

Well!  If that's what the BBC are intending to broadcast tonight all I can say is that there are going to be some very shocked viewers, either because of what they've seen or because of what they've missed!

I e-mailed Amazon and asked them what was going on.  In fact, feeling rather indignant, I asked them if someone wasn't playing a particularly childish joke.  They assured me that this was not the case, that it was a genuine error and that the matter would be corrected, but I've just been over there now and the site is still as it was this morning.

So, what are we in for this evening?  I was actually going to record the programme and watch it tomorrow, but I'm not sure I can stand the suspense.  I may have to watch it as it is transmitted.  On the other hand if I have an hour of Lingering Lessons before I go to bed who knows what damage it will do to my beauty sleep.  The story will continue.......


  1. Oh dear, that must have been a shock! I wonder how they could make a mistake like that? I was planning to watch Faulks on Fiction anyway but it could be even more interesting now!

  2. Apparently, tonight's episode is on heroes, Helen. This could bring a whole new slant to the term.

  3. Oh, this post is so funny! I'm dying to hear the end of the story :)

  4. This is such a delightful post. I feel so naive. Who knew that anyone would think to write or to read such an unsubtle story?

  5. I've just checked Amazon this morning and it's still the same! I didn't watch the programme last night, although I intend to. Was it good?

  6. Well, I haven't yet viewed last night's show. I thought that I'd better vet it before allowing certain young gentlemen who share my home with me to see it. I'm not saying my Bears are prudes you understand, but I really don't want anything setting fire to their overactive imaginations. I think we'll probably watch it tomorrow evening and I'll report back then, so I'm afraid you'll have to wait a little longer for the end of the story, Dorothy.

    Karyn, what I forgot to say in the piece I wrote was that the book reviewed (as opposed to the book advertised) had been given a five start rating by those who had read it. I'm not certain what this says about the book or about the readers, but it definitely says something!

    Margaret, I'm not surprised they haven't changed it. It was a very standard reply I received. They certainly didn't seem bother about it. I should have said I was off to buy a sony e-reader instead of the kindle so that I could get reliable downloads, that might have got them shifted.

  7. Can't wait to hear the end of this story ... I'm not surprised Amazon has done nothing. Actually getting human action there can be tricky.

    BTW Have you heard of Calibre? A free application that can convert most formats to Kindle? I have downloaded it but not used it for this purpose yet, but it looks the go. I have used to to fix up author-title metadata on free books I've downloaded.

  8. I did see Faulks on Fiction and will be interested to see what you thought of it. I mostly enjoyed it, but some sections were quite long and seemed to have filler material (atmospheric shots of Faulks standing in a concrete jungle or on a train). Good use of televised and film versions of books though. Would have perhaps liked more extracts read out, maybe by the guests who commented. Like the idea of the series though. How about you?
    Funny story about Amazon!

  9. WG, I'm going to watch the programme this evening, but as you will see from Leah's comment it was clearly far less racy than the Amazon site led me to believe might be the case - what a disappointment! I have heard of Calibre and had a quick look, but I think it will have to wait until I have a couple of spare hours in which to experiment. Sometimes I think I have forgotten what a couple of spare hours look like!

    Leah, well at least it was on what it said it was going to be on. I was speaking to a friend this afternoon who objected to the number of sweeping statements Faulks made. I think he said something to the effect that there had been no heroes after WWII? I suppose that depends on how he was defining heroes. I'll let you know what I think when I've watched it this evening.

  10. Oh my! This made me laugh! I had no idea Faulks was so, um, riskque.

  11. Well Stefanie, I finally watched it last night and although it was a very subjective approach to the subject of heroes, it wasn't as risque as Amazon would have us believe. I would have found it a lot easier to follow had he ever really defined what he meant by the term hero.

  12. Well that's disappointing on all the angles then. Oh well. Have you read Joseph Campbell's book Hero with a Thousand Faces? It's about the archetype of the hero in mythology but I think it can also be applied to literature too.

  13. No, Stefanie, I don't know that, but I'll go and have a mooch round the library. I'm sure we'll have a copy. Thanks.