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My Dear Bessie: A Love Story in Letters

A BBC Radio 4 Adaptation
Written by: Chris Barker, Bessie Moore
Length: 44 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's 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 members say

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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!

9 of 9 people found this review 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!

6 of 6 people found this review 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.

1 of 1 people found this review 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-10-19

Adorable

A very enjoable short love story in letters. I like the sincerity of it, especially considering that there were real people who wrote this letter to each other. The narration is top notch, it is pleasure to listen to this audio.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-09-19

Wonderful and beautiful

Such a beautiful love story. It is so lovely and sweet to hear these love letters between 2 people who love each other so dearly and hear of their journey together.

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  • New Cumberbabe
  • 19-08-19

A True Romance for Sure

I enjoyed this story through letters. I especially love Benedict and Louise's performance. Worth listening!

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  • C. Kay
  • 28-07-19

WW II Romance that stands the test of time!

Wonderful exchange of missives during wartime.
The war may be the reason that Chris was so frank in his amorous writing to Bessie, or maybe our parents lied about how young adults behaved before the 1960’s ;)

The voices of two I hoped would get together in the latest Sherlock series, got to be in love in this production, which warmed my heart.

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  • ❤'s Horses
  • 26-06-19

A reminder of a romantic the written word is.

This book was a reminder of how my husband and I slowly got to know each other. We both had had rather brutal break-ups in the past and were very gun shy about starting a new relationship. He had moved out of his girlfriend's house into what he thought was a safe, secure apartment with high block walls and a gate with a security code. All this to protect his car windows from his very angry ex. I told him I could get to him if I wanted and he said with a laugh that I couldn't. So I prepared a box and enclosed my favorite book, t-shirt, etc. along with a note, written in beautiful calligraphy, referencing the Trojan horse as he is an attorney with a bachelor's degree in history. During our courtship I continued to occasionally pen him letters in calligraphy. I still write letters to his parents in the nursing home in another state. The written word is much more powerful and meaningful than a phone call.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-06-19

Smiled the whole time

Absolutely beautiful way to spend 45 minutes. One of the best things I’ve heard on audible in years.

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  • Mrs. Sarah Turnham
  • ENGLAND
  • 01-08-19

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.

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  • sT cW
  • UAE
  • 11-07-18

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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  • Amazon Customer
  • Gravesend, Kent United Kingdom
  • 27-04-18

Beautifully evocative

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

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-04-18

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 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Muffin's Mom
  • 31-03-18

Lovely

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