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Library Notes: Get your Brit on!

By Paul Birkhead
Rowan Public Library

Ever since Downton Abbey premiered 10 years ago, there has been a surge of interest in all things British. From histories of the Royal Family, to baking competitions, to mysteries and drama on DVD, you can find a plethora of materials at Rowan Public Library to help you get your Brit on.

When one hears the word “British,” most people think about royalty, castles and acting proper. No one personifies that quite like the Royal Family. Queen Elizabeth II, reigning Queen of the United Kingdom since 1952, is a fascinating person with a long history and is the subject of several biographies. If you’d like to learn more about Queen Elizabeth II, check out “Elizabeth the Queen: the Life of a Modern Monarch,” by Sally Bedell Smith. Or watch seasons 1-3 of “The Crown” on DVD.

Queen Elizabeth isn’t the only modern royal that garners attention. Much interest has been shown in Meghan Markle and Prince Harry since their marriage in 2018. “Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family,” by Omid Scobie has been a popular title the past few months. And perhaps no one captured hearts and minds like Princess Diana, who continues to do so 23 years after her death. A recent book, “Diana: Case Solved,” by Dylan Howard seeks to shed some light on mysterious aspects of Diana’s death in a terrible car accident.

If mysteries are of interest, you should really investigate several British TV series that the library owns. While most of these series have met the end of their run, a few are still in production. All have a loyal following.

• Midsomer Murders: Chief Inspector Barnaby investigates murders in Midsomer, a fictional county in Britain.

• Miss Marple: This beloved spinster and amateur detective, first appeared in Agatha Christie’s novels and short stories, and graduated to starring in her own TV series.

• Agatha Raisin: Another fictional female sleuth who investigates mysteries. Based on the books by M. C. Beaton.

• Father Brown: A Roman Catholic priest faithfully serves his village and uses his understanding of human nature to solve murders. Based on the books by G. K. Chesterton.
• Sherlock: Perhaps the world’s most favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes, solves mysteries in a modern setting with Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor Watson.

If you’d rather watch cakes and crumpets being made rather than unfortunate souls getting slayed, then the Great British Baking Show is sure to be your cup of tea. The popular baking competition has just finished its 11th season. Rowan Public Library currently owns the first four seasons in its DVD collection. The show has also spawned several books, such as “The Story of the Great British Bake Off,” by Anita Singh, “The Big Book of Amazing Cakes,” by Linda Collister, and “Time to Eat: Delicious Meals for Busy Lives,” by Nadiva Hussain.

If you can’t get enough of British culture and history, there’s no need to “cross the pond.” Rowan Public Library has just what you need. Keep calm and watch or read on.

Paul Birkhead is reference librarian at the Rowan Public Library.

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