Saturday Feb 2nd: How Shostakovich Changed my Mind

‘There’s something about hearing your most painful emotions transformed into something beautiful..’ The old Russian who uttered those words spoke for countless fellow survivors of Stalin’s reign of terror. And the ‘something beautiful’ he had in mind was the music of Dmitri Shostakovich.

BBC music broadcaster Stephen Johnson – “the authoritative British voice of classical music” (Michael Tumelty) –  will be talking about the power of Shostakovich’s music during Stalin’s reign of terror, and looking at the extraordinary healing effect of music on sufferers of mental illness. He asks how is it that music that reflects pain, fear and desolation can help sufferers find – if not a way out, then a way to bear these feelings and ultimately rediscover pleasure in existence?

Johnson will draw on his own personal experiences, and the talk will be complemented by pieces of Shostakovich’s music. Afterwards he take will be happy to take questions from the audience and sign copies of which will be available to buy on the night.

“Stephen Johnson is one of our most sensitive and thoughtful music critics, and this book, written from the heart about a composer whom he loves and admires, will prove to be a landmark in the understanding of its subject” – Sir Roger Scruton

This event is hosted by Arts For Hungerford. The Hungerford Bookshop will be there on the night with copies of How Shostakovich Changed My Mind (Nottinghill Editions, £14.99).

Saturday February 2nd at The Croft Hall, Hungerford. 8pm (doors open 7:30).

Tickets £10 from Hungerford Bookshop (01488 683480) or on-line at

Thursday February 7th: Diane Setterfield on Once Upon a River

A spellbinding, multi-layered mystery set in the 19th century around the Thames, by the bestselling author of The Thirteenth Tale.  On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames, the regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open and in steps an injured stranger.

In his arms is the drowned corpse of a child. Hours later, the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? And who does the little girl belong to? An exquisitely crafted multi-layered mystery brimming with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.

“Diane’s masterful storytelling draws you in to a beguiling tale, full of twists and turns like the river at its heart, and just as rich and intriguing.” (M L Stedman, bestselling author of The Light Between Oceans)

Swift and entrancing, profound and beautiful. Give yourself a treat and read it!” (Madeline Miller, Orange Prize-winning author of The Song of Achilles and Circe)

Diane Setterfield will be talking about her book at Hungerford Library/Hub at 7:30pm. Tickets £6 (includes a glass of wine and money off the book on the night) from us or on-line at