Monday, 22 March 2010

A Visit to Midsomer





One of the great joys about being part of the community of crime writers and readers is that one forms friendships, sometimes gradually and over many years, that are enormously rewarding. I first came across that fine novelist of psychological suspense Margaret Yorke in person in the 1990s, though I’d been reading her books avidly for a long time before that. But it’s only in recent times that I have come to know her better, and discover what a fascinating conversationalist she is.

I talked with Margaret recently at a Detection Club dinner, and, on learning that I’d be coming down to Oxford this past week-end, she invited me to have lunch at her home, which is only half an hour away from the city of dreaming spires. Needless to say, it was an invitation I accepted with alacrity.

I found that Margaret lives in a village that has the classic prettiness of the kind of English village beloved of Golden Age writers – and it did not really come as a surprise when she told me that some episodes of Midsomer Murders are filmed there. Margaret’s own cottage is delightful – low beams, a lovely garden and oodles of character. And it’s packed, of course, with books.

Margaret’s novels are crammed with insight into the way that people behave, and the forces that sometimes propel them into crime. When talking to her, it’s easy to see how her abiding interest in human motivation informed her fiction, and gave it the strength and credibility that earned her such a high reputation, and ultimately the CWA Diamond Dagger. Spending around three hours at the home of such a distinguished writer (who is also, incidentally, someone who cooks a very good lunch) and learning more about her life and experiences as an author – she even showed me her very first rejection slip! - was not just a pleasure; it was a privilege

16 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Sounds like a wonderful experience! I'm glad you had the opportunity. Terrific 'photos, too!

seana said...

Lovely!

And you make me want to go out and find a Margaret Yorke novel tomorrow!

BooksPlease said...

What a great time the two of you had.

I read and loved many of Margaret Yorke's books years ago and just recently have gone back to reading them - recently finished Dead in the Morning, which I'll write about on my blog.

Midsomer Murders was also filmed near where I used to live and part of the pleasure of watching the TV series was identifying the locations.

Anonymous said...

I have just finished reading "Pieces of Justice" a collection of short stories by Margaret Yorke. There is not one dull story in the collection - what a talented writer. It was so pleasing to read about her and to hear that she is every bit as interesting as her stories indicate...

Thanks for this post
Sue

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I love your photos! Margaret Yorke is a wonderful novelist--and I love that you all had such a nice visit.

Midsomer Murders was one of my FAVORITE series. I was crushed when it was discontinued here. Buying the DVDs has been on my list of things to do...

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Minnie said...

What an enjoyable visit, and thank you so much for yet another re-introduction. It is good news to hear MY thrives. I read her avidly for years; breadth of sympathy, depth of insight & an elegantly economic style seemed to me to be her trademarks.
The entire Chilterns region is used for Midsomer Murders locations (that's where I grew up, so I indulge in some nostalgic fun trying to spot where 'we' are! Although it's a mite jarring watching the whole thing dubbed into French ...).

Deb said...

I wish she'd publish some more books--but she's earned her retirement!

Minnie said...

PS Photos of the actual locations used: http://midsomermurders.org/locationsindex.htm

Ann Elle Altman said...

Oh, what a privilege. I love the look of her house and the surrounding area. I love watching the series "Midsomer Murders."

ann

Janet O'Kane said...

I too was an avid reader of Margaret’s books, some years ago now. One in particular sticks in my mind – No Medals for the Major – because it had such a moving ending. It’s great to learn she’s still going strong. You’ve encouraged me to revisit her work when time (and my ‘to be read’ shelf) permit.

Dorte H said...

I can see I have her name on my list already (perhaps because you have recommended her before). Are there any particular novels you would recommend for someone who has not read her before?

Nan said...

Thank you for the pictures! I've not read her, but will now.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh, I did love her books. I am so glad you had lunch with her.

Martin Edwards said...

Thank you all very much for these comments. I'm glad that Margaret is so well remembered and that I've managed to interest those who haven't read her before.
Sue, I totally agree about Pieces of Justice. It is very good.
Minnie, many thanks for the link.
Janet, No Medals is a superb book and it really marks a watershed in her career as a writer of psychological suspense.

seana said...

I did pick one up at the used bookstore yesterday--have no idea where it fits into the chronology of her work, though. It's called Mortal Remains, and is starting with the main character heading off to Crete. The opening was all I had time for on the short bus ride home last night but it looks intriguing.

Elizabeth Frengel said...

Dear Martin,
How delighted Miss Lemon is to have found a fellow fan of Margaret Yorke. And oh! to have stepped foot in her cottage! Thank you for this lovely post. Please, also, see Miss Lemon's enthusiastic review of No Medals for the Major. She really is a treasure.
--Miss L