Eco is brilliant, and I think this is one of his most enthralling novels since Foucault's Pendulum. As in that book, conspiracies abound — freemasons, jesuits, that sort of thing — though this time in nineteenth century Europe. However, Eco is using mad conspiracy theories as a way into talking about antisemitism, as well as displaying a dazzling knowledge of the historical context.
The shipping forecast is one of those odd, very British traditions that Radio 4 seems to specialize in. Each day, it is broadcast with poetic sounding placenames and technical sounding weather jargon. In a fascinating and occasionally hilarious story, Charlie Connelly journeys to all the shipping forecast areas and tells of his adventures in doing so. I thought it was fantastic.