Troubador Darling Alicia

Steve Merrett and Alicia Kaner talk to Emma Britton at BBC Somerset

Released: 05/10/2009

ISBN: 9781848761643

Format: Paperback

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Darling Alicia

The Love Letters of Alicia Kaner and Stephen Merrett


When Alicia and Steve first met in Buenos Aires in 1965, she was engaged to be married and he was in the midst of a love affair with a local girl. They fell for each other at first sight but neither was prepared to make the first move. Within a couple of months, Steve had left Argentina to take up a research post in India. But they could not forget each other and in May 1966, they finally managed to make contact.

For the next year and a half Alicia and Steve wrote long and passionate letters to each other; she from Argentina and he from India and then London. Their witty and charming correspondence charts the highs and lows of their relationship as they flirt, fight and fall in love.

At the same time Alicia records the rise of the Argentine military, the tragic death of her step-mother, and her father’s turmoil at the prospect of losing his daughter.

Steve describes his journeys across India and in the Himalayas as well as his encounters with a curious circle of friends and colleagues in Delhi.

When Steve returns home to London in 1967, they agree that Alicia should fly half way round the world to find out if the magic of their letters can be matched by the reality of life together. Even then, proving that the course of true love never did run smooth, Alicia is impeded by bureaucratic madness... will she ever make it to London and into Steve’s arms?

The love letters of Alicia Kaner and Stephen Merrett were originally adapted by Vernee Samuel as a BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play which was broadcast in July 2006 and repeated in October 2007.

Book News

Darling Alicia was originally adapted as an Afternoon Play for BBC Radio Four. The play was broadcast twice, in July 2006 and October 2007 and many listeners wrote in to express their admiration.

“A wonderful love story – real life is always more interesting than fiction.”

“What I loved in the play was the natural backdrop of history and politics, your decision making based on reason and intellect and your humour and wooing in your letters.”

“The joy of anticipation, waiting for letters and poring over every word to interpret them. So very different today with instant email.”

Popular Patchwork Magazine
(December 2009)

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Alicia Kaner and Stephen Merrett


Stephen Merrett was born in the East End of London in 1939 and attended Leyton County High School where his best friend was Derek Jacobi. He was the first member of his family to go to university, studying economics at Bristol and Oxford. In 1964 he accepted a research post in the economics of education in Buenos Aires and since that time has worked as a research economist in many parts of the world.

Alicia Kaner was born into a close-knit, extended Jewish family in Argentina. She grew up in a wealthy middle-class area of Buenos Aires, looked after by nannies, maids and cooks. She went to school when Evita and Juan Peron were in power and met the dictator in person. Alicia studied Sociology at university but her real loves were photography and textiles, subjects which she pursued in later life.

Vernee Samuel was born in London and studied law at Oxford University and UCL. She joined the BBC in 1994, specialising in making radio documentaries and drama. In 2006, she adapted and co-produced Darling Alicia, a Radio 4 Afternoon Play which dramatised the love letters of Stephen Merrett and Alicia Kaner. She is now a freelance editor and producer.

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