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Unique Books and Drama Courses

(Group bookings only)

You won’t find another holiday course like this anywhere else.

Not only do we provide you with a themed reading-list of five or six novels in advance, we include a modern play as well. In a spirit of enjoyable and very informal enquiry, we’ll engage with the literature and also discuss the relationship between the written word and the spoken (or even unspoken) performance of a writer’s work.

An introduction to acting methods and interpretations using games, readings, and even the option of a short performance for wouldbe thesps, makes – we promise you – for a truly amazing experience.

Author and academic Moira Martingale and experienced theatre director Christopher Masters work in partnership to lead this course. Our guests vote this course life-changing and it’s certainly the one where people spend a great deal of time helplessly laughing. We suspect that you will too.

Books & Drama Courses

Course Tutors: Moira Martingale & Christopher Masters

Sample Course Texts:

  • The Girls by Lori Lansens (2007) Virago Books
  • A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (2006) Penguin Books
  • Timbuktu by Paul Auster (2000) Faber and Faber
  • Under the Skin by Michel Faber (2004) Canongate Books
  • How the Dead Live by Will Self (2001) Penguin Books
  • Engleby by Sebastian Faulks (2008) Virago
  • Play: The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams (first published 1948)
Day Time Activity
Wed 4 pm onwards Arrival, tea and cakes. Settling in
7 pm onwards Aperitifs on the pool terrace. Welcome talk
8 pm Dinner at home
Thurs 8 am onwards Breakfast
9 am Workshop 1
It should never be assumed that the narrative voice of a novel is the same person as the novel’s author – a reader should not fall into the trap of relying upon either the honesty or the ethical stance of the narrator, or, indeed, the validity of their point of view. Films such as The Sixth Sense and The Others gave us shock endings and TV’s Desperate Housewives has as its narrator the ghost of a woman who committed suicide in the first episode. Our chosen texts for this course are all narrated by some unusual voices – treat them with caution.
Our first discussion will be of Michel Faber’s bizarre and deeply unsettling book about a lone female who scouts the Scottish Highlands in search of men – ‘unlike anything else you have ever read,’ says one reviewer. Timbuktu’s Mr Bones is the faithful mongrel companion of a city tramp who tells of his final journey with his dying master. Can we easily accept a non-human narrator?
Some light relief will be supplied by Christopher, under whose guidance we will enjoy a short introduction to acting methods, with some really stimulating and fun exercises – what our director calls ‘status-games’
12.30 pm Lunch
Afternoon Free
4.30 pm Coffee/tea and cakes
6.00 pm In-house tasting of selected local wines
Evening Eating out at a restaurant
Fri 8 am onwards Breakfast
9 am Workshop 2
The Glass Menagerie, a portrait of a Depression-era family – an overbearing mother, painfully shy, crippled daughter and frustrated writer son – was Tennessee Williams’ first major success in the 1940s and is considered to be his most autobiographical play. Looking at this, we will begin to put into practice some of the dramatic strategies we discussed yesterday.
After coffee we will address The Girls, a double autobiography of two sisters who are, more remarkably, conjoined twins and take it in turns to write about their own very individual views of life. We will also look at Engleby in a dramatic context and consider the possible performance of some scenes
12.30 pm Lunch
2 pm Trip to Carcassonne (optional)
4.30 pm. approx Leave Carcassonne
5 pm Tea and cakes on arrival home
7 pm Pre-dinner drinks
8 pm Dinner at home
Sat 8 am onwards Breakfast
9 am Workshop 3
Our third session will be framed around little performances of our selected scenes
12.30 pm Lunch
Afternoon Free
3.30 pm Local wine-tasting outing to vineyard (optional)
4.30 pm Coffee/tea and cakes
7 pm Pre-dinner drinks
8 pm Finale Dinner at home
Sun 8 am onwards Breakfast
9 am Workshop 4
Would we really try to depress you just before you leave? Of course not. How the Dead Live and The Long Way Down may appear thematically dark, but there are enough nuggets of hope or humour to send you on your way smiling. Our interesting exercise will be to compare the two writers’ differing approaches and methodologies
12.00 noon Lunch
1.30 – 2.30 pm Departures


Moira Martingale is an established journalist, having worked as a featurewriter and columnist for national and regional newspapers and magazines. She is the author of internationally published books and her present novel is nearing completion. Moira has a teaching qualification and a Doctoral degree in English Literature.

Christopher Masters was educated at King’s College School and trained as an actor at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He spent ten years as an actor and then worked as a freelance director, later starting his own Theatre Company, Millstream, directing contemporary classics which toured nationally and internationally until 1998.

With a change of policy at the Arts Council and a new government, it was time for Christopher to fulfil a dream and live in the Aude, in a quiet village surrounded by vineyards. ‘I came here because of the weather and the quality of life,’ he says. After spending five years converting two village houses, he is currently at work on a book of short stories and associated anecdotes.