Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I reviewed The Boleyns, a docudrama series about Anne Boleyn and her family. Tina reviewed The Herd by Emily Edwards, a novel that tackles the COVID vaccine controversy with depth and compassion. Sue reviewed Study for Obedience by Sarah Bernstein, which is short-listed for the Booker Prize.
Dracula by Bram Stoker is an epistolary novel, told in letters and journal entries. All the adventure happens in about six months, from May 3 to November 6 — with a final epilogue written seven years later.
Web designer Matt Kirkland had the bright idea that a fun way of reading Dracula would be day-by-day as each entry appears in the year. He set up an email newsletter for this purpose in 2021. My brother read it this way in 2022 and recommended it to me. I just finished the 2023 run.
Jonathan Harker’s diary begins the story. He is a British solicitor who has traveled to Transylvania to meet with Count Dracula. His job is to “explain the purchase of a London estate to a foreigner.”
Each day’s email contains that day’s part of the story. Since the narrators observe the natural world around themselves, I got to enjoy these gems around the same time that I saw similar phenomenon in my surroundings:
There was everywhere a bewildering mass of fruit blossom—apple, plum, pear, cherry; and as we drove by I could see the green grass under the trees spangled with the fallen petals.
August 9, Whitby.
One of the greatest and suddenest storms on record has just been experienced here, with results both strange and unique. The weather had been somewhat sultry, but not to any degree uncommon in the month of August. Saturday evening was as fine as was ever known, and the great body of holiday-makers laid out yesterday for visits to Mulgrave Woods, Robin Hood’s Bay, Rig Mill, Runswick, Staithes, and the various trips in the neighbourhood of Whitby.
Those are places that I visited with Kate Humble while watching her series, Coastal Britain.
The story ends in the Carpathian Mountains where our brave letter and journal writers are chasing the vampire through snow. Fortunately, I haven’t seen snow in my environment yet this season.
I have never read Dracula or watched a movie version. I was surprised by the story. It’s not at all what I imagined from Dracula’s appearance in popular culture.
I’m glad to have finally read it. I highly recommend this method. Many days, you’ll get no email at all. On other days, there is a paragraph or a little more. A few days’ emails go on for several pages. The longer ones are more toward the end when I was well enough along into the story that I was willing to take a bit of extra time to see what happened next.
If you like the idea of reading day-by-day, but prefer reading books in print, Matt Kirkland published a book version this year.
To sign up for the daily email in 2024 or to buy the print copy, visit the Dracula Daily website.