When I was younger (approximately 3 years younger — i.e. before I had the boys) there was nothing I liked more than curling up in an armchair, on a lazy weekend, reading the latest bestseller or a much-loved classic.
I used to read loads too. Crime novels, fiction, biographies, autobiographies — there was nothing I enjoyed more than immersing myself in the pages of a good book.
Period stories were also a bit of a favourite too, particularly by Emily Bronté, Jane Austen and Catherine Cookson. These lovely novels are guaranteed to transport you to a bygone era and whisk you away to another time.
Sadly, these days, there just isn’t enough time to read as much as I’d like.
I steal the odd 5 minutes to look at the paper — snatch a lunch-break to flick through the pages of my favourite magazine — but my books sit untouched and my Kindle lies unloved on my bedside table.
Happily this Christmas, the folk at Drama have solved this issue for me and are running a ‘Cookson Christmas’ during the festive period; from December 20th to December 31st. Meaning I get a fix of my beloved period classics without having to lift a book! Hurrah!
Dame Catherine Cookson is one of the word’s most noted authors. Born in County Durham, in 1906, her books are widely read and much loved.
Her novels were inspired by her own deprived youth in the North East of England and the stories sometimes make for uncomfortable reading; capturing imaginations and conjuring a life that is so different from our own.
One of my very favourite stories, that will be featured on Drama‘s ‘Cookson Christmas’, is The Cinder Path.
Set in the early 20th century, it’s absolutely gripping — full of intrigue and drama.
‘You’re a loser; you were born a loser.’
The central character Charlie Macfell — played by Lloyd Owen who I recognised from Monarch of the Glen — witnesses something awful (I don’t want to say too much because I’ll spoil it for you!) but needless to say, his father is a violent, nasty piece of work who treats his staff appallingly.
The plot thickens — as someone else saw this atrocity too — and the witness, Ginger Slater, uses the information to blackmail the family.
For lovers of romance, there’s a little of that in there too.
Charlie is in love with the lovely Nellie but ends up having to marry her sister, Victoria, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. She is less angelic than her sister and has a bit of a reputation!
It’s such a fabulous story. There are so many horrible characters, one would think that it wouldn’t be a good book to read — or a rewarding film to watch — but it really, really is.
Charlie Macfell is such a wonderful character. You find yourself rooting for him, particularly when he’s sent off to fight in WW1. The trench scenes are really gripping and Lloyd Owen is such a believable actor.
The film contains all the classic features of a great watch — murder and revenge, blackmail and betrayal, love and heartbreak. It’s beautifully shot too, with fabulous period costumes.
For lovers of the work of Catherine Cookson, these films are such a treat, plus the Christmas holidays are the perfect time to stay indoors and watch the television.
Period dramas are so nostalgic and make perfect TV watching for this time of year, so if you’d like an excuse to cosy up with some great films, I’d recommend taking a peek at the Cookson programmes on Drama.
Happy viewing everyone!