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My Dear Bessie: A Love Story in Letters

A BBC Radio 4 Adaptation
Length: 44 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.9 out of 5 stars (48 ratings)

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Summary

Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey read a love story in letters, played out against the backdrop of the Second World War.

'Can you feel, as you read these words, that I am thinking of you now; aglow, alive, alert at the thought that you are in the same world, and by some strange chance loving me.'

A small blue box opened in 2008 revealed a wartime world of love, longing and frustration. Inside were bundles and bundles of letters written neatly in pen, in pencil, on thin blue airmail paper or headed army notepaper. Envelopes covered in postmarks, redirections, censor's stamps. A love affair in letters between two people who barely knew each other, thousands of miles apart, in the middle of a war, with no idea when or whether they would ever see each other again.

On September 5th, 1943, Chris Barker, a signalman stationed near Tobruk in North Africa, decided to write to a former work colleague, Bessie Moore, a Morse code interpreter at the Foreign Office back in London. The unexpected warmth of Bessie's reply changed their lives forever.

Chris and Bessie's love letters first appeared in Simon Garfield's book To the Letter. They toured literary festivals as part of Letters Live before being published in a book, My Dear Bessie.

Written by Chris Barker and Bessie Moore.

Letters compiled by Simon Garfield.

Adapted by Sara Davies.

Produced and directed by Gemma Jenkins.

Cast:

Chris - Benedict Cumberbatch
Bessie - Louise Brealey
Irena - Jane Slavin

©2018 BBC Worldwide Ltd (P)2018 BBC Worldwide Ltd

What listeners say about My Dear Bessie: A Love Story in Letters

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Just wonderful!

I confess to choosing this as a certain Mr Cumberbatch is narrating, but the love story between Chris & Bessie was simply beautiful. My only complaint was that it only lasted for such a short time! It's so easy to forget the horrors of war; never knowing if you'll be alive in the morning. I loved this & recommend it wholeheartedly.

1 person found this helpful

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Beautiful words of Love!

A short but beautiful story! It was so wonderful I just wish it was longer, yet I’m happy these two were to be together as soon as possible!

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Wonderful story and performance!

Spectacular performance by both artists. A Wonderful old school love story! Endearing and so honest. Thank you for sharing these precious letters with us.

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Beautifully evocative

These war tine love letters are beautifully read- touching, engaging and poignant. A must listen!

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Absolutely lovely

This was an excellent letter, hopelessly romantic. This has now set a boundary for relationships to come in the future. Performances were excellent (made me think of Sherlock and molly having a love affair) but was absolutely fantastic. Read this book!!!!! I know I will listen to it again multiple times!

1 person found this helpful

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Lovely

The most beautiful love story I've ever heard. I'll be falling asleep to this for a long time to come.

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  • Lyn
  • 22-05-18

Tender Lusting

The words of love are one thing. This couple's sentences of longing and imagining are tender and breathy. There is a depth not easily attained in today's text, tweet and swipe relationships. Quite a treasure and a terrific way to get ready for en evening with your partner. What a turn-on!

12 people found this helpful

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  • Leanne
  • 02-04-18

Sweet romance, top notch narration

What made the experience of listening to My Dear Bessie: A Love Story in Letters the most enjoyable?

The quality of narration stands out. They can really act, and it shows.

Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

Bessie. She sounded so sweet and hopeful!

Any additional comments?

I'm now in the mood of writing a love letter to my husband!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Carol Edwards
  • 09-02-19

Swept off my feet

I love this story, half because it truly happened, and half because of the superb reading by Benedict and Louise. The language is so vivid and rich (and sensuous), and I feel almost guilty eavesdropping on them. But I do anyway, and get thoroughly invested in their fates, which, without trying to spoiler, is a good one.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Daniela
  • 09-02-19

Falling in love with romanticism

I first heard this story on bbc one radio when it was first put on air last year, and I absolutely loved it. Being a realist and a non sentiment about love: this audio brought out the romance in me and love for the story. Benedict Cumberbatch Jane Slavin and Louise Brealey narrative absorb me into the love story of Bessie and Chris. Love it and would hear it again.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Love's Tempest
  • 13-05-20

Altering!!

I chose “Altering” as my header, because that is what this story has done to me. I have read and listened to hundreds of romance novels. Some good, some average, and some unforgettable. But this simple collection of letters has altered me. The love in every line is staggering. Also, as to the narrators of this story, Benedict and Louise’s conveyance of the emotion of these two very real people is beyond description. They are magnificent and I would love to listen to them over and over again. So, if you are considering getting this audiobook please download and listen to it as soon as possible and let it alter you as well.

2 people found this helpful

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  • JP
  • 01-06-18

wonderful to hear the full story in one sitting

I've seen the Letters Live performances of some of these. So awesome to get the entire story, and BC and LB do a terrific job of embodying the lovers.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jarred Woods
  • 13-07-20

Great lil love story

Def worth the download. It’s short, but I know I’ll listen to it more than once. Such a sweet story!

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  • happy family
  • 16-06-20

Waste of a credit

This item was a waste of a credit. It isn’t really s story. There are so many books of letters that are worth your time.

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  • Lynn M.
  • 15-04-20

A beautiful love story

What a beautiful tribute to an amazing couple. I ached for Bessie and Chris. I cried for and with them. Wish I could give this more than 5 stars. The narrators embodied this couple.

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  • seji
  • 13-02-20

Gem!

Absolutely love and about love and in and about two people in love. Love the narration.