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William Fiennes - The Music Room

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 03 July 2011

James Naughtie and readers talk to William Fiennes about his memoir The Music Room.

The book is his account of growing up in a castle with an epileptic brother. It's an honest yet discrete story of a fascinating family and how they deal with the eldest brother's struggle with epilepsy. In his upbeat moments, Richard brims with tenderness and high spirits, and at his worst he is threatening and even violent.

Richard dies of a seizure at forty-one; his life defined by damage done to his brain by his epilepsy. The book is potted with medical histories of epilepsy alongside anecdotes about the film crews, country fairs and conventions that dominated daily life for Fiennes' family in the castle. Twelve thousand visitors passed through the castle every year - giving, he says, new meaning to the phrase 'tidy your room.
But the book is also a testament of a family's love for their ill and sometimes difficult son.

William talks about his family story and the result is an unforgettable picture of the disordered world that he experiences through his brother, set in an ancient house where the music room of the title is the place where he sought refuge and enjoyed playing as a child.

August's Bookclub choice : 'Death at La Fenice' by Donna Leon.

Producer : Dymphna Flynn.


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