Women in 1950s England; the woman behind a medical miracle; and a 19th century murder mystery set in Russia.

When my book group read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot a few years back we had an unusually large turnout for the discussion. I found the book very interesting so I was excited to see that it was featured in one of my favorite book discussion programs, Books and Authors, on the BBC on 6/24/14. Harriet Gilbert is the host of the show. She and each of her guests pick a book and they all discuss each one in turn. Financial adviser Alvin Hall picked the book about Henrietta Lacks and lead the discussion, including his perspective as an African American who grew up in segregation around the time a scientist removed some cancer cells from Ms. Lacks, also an African American, without her permission, and without informing her family. These cells were widely used in medical research, including the development of the polio vaccine.

Journalist and author India Knight chose the novel “Jane and Prudence” by Barbara Pym and lead that discussion. This novel, about the lives of two women in England in the 1950s couldn’t be more different than the book about Henrietta Lacks. I never thought I would be interested in reading a book by Ms. Pym, but after hearing about her witty social observations I might give this one a try. The discussion was at times hilarious. The last book, recommended by Harriett Gilbert, was “The Winter Queen” by Boris Akunin, which according to Ms. Gilbert was very popular in Russia recently. In addition to being a very good story, it was noted that the translation from Russian is outstanding.

This edition of Books and Authors was especially entertaining because of the wit, humor, and insightful comments from Ms. Gilbert and her two guests. To listen to the program, or download a podcast to listen to at your convenience, visit the URL below, then scroll down until you come to the program entitled “A Good Read: India Knight and Alvin Hall,” and dated 6/24/14.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/openbook

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