A cardboard box, an Empress and growing up on a lake

It’s time to kick-off a week of story-telling in voice, brought to our virtual lives by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s Second Life home at Bradley University, unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, July 10th 13:30: Tea Time at Baker Street

Tea-time at Baker Street returns for the summer, featuring a new location – 221B Baker Street at the University of Washington in Second Life, and a return to His Last Bow.

A 1917 anthology of previously published Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the volume originally comprised seven stories published by The Strand Magazine between 1908 and 1917. However, later editions of the book saw an eighth story included, The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, originally published in 1892 – and it is this tale which forms the focus of this week’s presentation.

In choosing a few typical cases which illustrate the remarkable mental qualities of my friend, Sherlock Holmes, I have endeavoured, as far as possible, to select those which presented the minimum of sensationalism, while offering a fair field for his talents. It is, however, unfortunately impossible entirely to separate the sensational from the criminal, and a chronicler is left in the dilemma that he must either sacrifice details which are essential to his statement and so give a false impression of the problem, or he must use matter which chance, and not choice, has provided him with. With this short preface I shall turn to my notes of what proved to be a strange, though a peculiarly terrible, chain of events.

So Dr, John Watson opens his re-telling of this grisly case. A case which begins when Miss Susan Cushing of Croydon receives a parcel of two severed human ears, packed in salt. Inspector Lestrade is convinced that the parcel is a prank on the part of three medical students Miss Cushing was forced to evict from her lodgings due to their unruly behaviour. Lestrade points to the parcel as coming from Belfast – the home of one of the former lodgers – as reason for his suspicions.

On examining the parcel, however, Holmes is certain that they are dealing with a far more serious crime, involving tormented minds and extra-marital relationships…

Monday July 11th. Sisi: Empress on Her Own

Caledonia Skytower reads selections from Allison Pataki’s 2016 novel of historical fiction set in the heyday of the Habsburg court in the late 19th Century,

SisiEmpress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary is the Princess Diana of her time. Fondly known as “Sisi”, her life from the outside appears to be a fairy tale of waltzes, glamour, champagne and the privileges of the aristocracy. But the reality is that Sisi is locked in an unfulfilling marriage and confined by the requirements of protocol which chafe at her free spirit. 

Escaping Vienna she withdraws to a place of comfort: her estate outside of Budapest. There she falls in love with Count Andrássy, and wants only for a life of her own. But the realities of royal life force her to return to Vienna, where a world of sorrow, intrigue, envy  – and even danger – await her.

So it is that Sisi is caught in a personal world of conflict, trying on the one hand to keep her family together whilst on the other, wishing to be free of her suffocating marriage. And as she fights to assert herself and her right to sit  on the throne alongside her husband, so to must she face the approaching Great War and the threat it presents to Europe as a whole.

Tuesday July 12th, 19:00: Blueberry Summers: Growing Up at the Lake

Kayden Oconnell reads from Curtiss Anderson’s classic coming of age memoirs.

BlueberryBorn in 1928 in Minneapolis, Curtiss Anderson grew up in an extended family of Norwegian-Americans, among whom the highlight of the year was time spent among the lakes of northern Minnesota.

For young Curtiss, growing up in the 1930s and 1940s, these were especially idyllic years. Time spent in the farmhouse among this extended family presented an opportunity for him to escape the strained and troubled relationship he had with his parents and enjoy the company of others, aunts and uncles, the loving care offered by family friends Leigh and Clara, the companionship of the family dogs – and the chances to experience young love of his own.

Through the tales he relates of these summers, so Anderson also explores the notes and letters he wrote as a boy, carefully produced on a hand-me-down typewriter. Missives and notes which, although he never realised it at the time, were in fact his first forays into what would blossom in his adult life into a distinguished career as a writer, editor and publisher.

Wednesday July 13th 19:00: Ollie’s Odyssey

OllieCaledonia Skytower reads William Joyce’s children’s tale about Oswald (or Ollie, or Oz), a stuffed rabbit and favourite of young Billy. Oz goes everywhere with Billy, until one day, he is accidentally left under a table during a wedding, and is kidnapped by the wicked Zozo.

An unwanted amusement park prize, Zozo hates all toys that are favourites; so much so that he doesn’t just want them lost – he wants them forgotten by everyone – and he has gathered other embittered toys to his cause.

Now Oz must work to not only rescue himself and get back to Billy, he must ensure all the other “lost” toys reach safety.

Thursday, July 14th

19:00: She Sells Sea Shells

With Shandon Loring

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

With Finn Zeddmore.


Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule.

The featured charity for July-August is WildAid: seeking to end the illegal wildlife trade in our lifetimes by reducing demand through public awareness campaigns and providing comprehensive marine protection.

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