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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 (2 ratings)

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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!

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.

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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.

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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.

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  • SuzieQ
  • 04-02-20

A perfect Valentine!

Tender, lustful, romantic, erotic, endearing - a perfect little love story, perfectly read. Love letters set against the background of World War II. Poignant and enduring.

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  • Jane
  • 26-01-20

An enchanting love story

The narration of this story was incredible it made the story seem like it was happening right in front of me. I was on the edge of my seat until the end, so terrified that the war would destroy this love story. I recommend this audio to anyone who loves a great love story that will grip their heart.

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  • Co
  • 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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  • Mrs. Sarah Turnham
  • 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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  • Jess Kate
  • 09-12-19

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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  • sT cW
  • 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
  • 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!

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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.