I don't know about you but in the summer I don't cook much, nor do I read What I Call serious reading. Too hot to cook, well sometimes, and also difficult to concentrate when the sun is shining. I like something light to eat and steak and kidney pie loses its savour. Ditto books. Not saying that when the nights are cold I am suddenly going to work my way through the Booker list or start reading Gogol but I do tend to hunker down with books that need concentration.
And looking at my reading over the last few weeks I have been reading loads of detective stories. Re-reading the Zouroudi books set in Greece which I love and then in the last week have had three of my favourite detective series come up with the latest.
Linda Castillo-The Dead will Tell. The latest in the series featuring Kate Burkholder, chief of police in Painters Mill in Amish country. Love these books. They are well written with great story lines and there has not been a dud one amongst them. If I have one criticism it is to say that for a peace loving people, the Amish do seem to have a lot of murder and mayhem going on. It stretches credulity a tad but then I think of Midsomer Murders and the body count in that series and realise that nothing reaches the level of death and destruction there.
OK so everyone in Painters Mill knows the abandoned Hochstetler farm is haunted. A terrible murder and fire took place there over thirty years ago and when Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of an apparent suicide of an old man found hanging from the rafters in his dilapidated barn she realises that his death is a murder and a murder done particularly cruelly with the maximum amount of suffering. When a second man is found dead, also seemingly by his own hand, Kate discovers that, in common with the first murder, there is a link to the old case. And there seem to be more on the killer's list....
If you have yet to discover this series then I really recommend them. But do read them in order as there is a narrative thread dealing with Kate's personal life that runs through them all.
Single girl, 29, smouldering redhead, love life that's crashed and burned. Seeks new flame to rekindle her fire. Fun, friendship and – who knows – maybe more?
An ad placed on a dating website leads Red Westwood to meet charming and rich Bryce Laurent. He is handsome and madly in love with her, showering her with gifts and presents. When his past and his lies are revealed to her she breaks up with him and evicts him from her flat. But he is obsessed with her and he intends to destroy her, her life and her family. There seems to be no escape.
Roy Grace finds that Bryce Laurent is cunning and ruthless with a string of aliases and difficult to find. While he is dealing with this case he is also arranging his marriage to Cleo and having nightmares that his missing wife Sandy will turn up at his wedding and ruin his future.
There have been a few adverse reviews regarding this latest Grace book so I was not sure what to expect when I started it but found I became totally immersed and engaged, reading it straight through in one sitting. If I do have a criticism it is that a car accident removed an unpleasant character in the last book and the same happens in this one. Very helpful but it certainly opens up a new story line which will no doubt be explored in the next one in the series. I look forward to it.
Abbatoir Blues - Peter Robinson. The latest DCI Banks book and the first thing you have to remember when reading these is that the TV series has gone off on a totally different tack, the characterisation of Banks is also different and you have to put this out your mind, else you will get very muddled as to who does what and what is happening.
I found the last Banks book, The Children of the Revolution, very tedious and rather boring and pleased that this one is back to form. Initially investigating the theft of an extremely expensive tractor, the latest in a long line of rural crimes, it soon escalates when human blood is discovered in an abandoned hangar and it is clear a murder has taken place. Then a possible witness vanishes and goes on the run and it all starts to get very complicated.
There is one common factor in these books that really irritates after a while. The constant harping on about what music Banks is listening to, or any other character, given in detail. If someone is driving along and about to meet his death I am really not interested in knowing whether he is into rap or garage music, I really am not. And when Banks gets home and finds a CD in the post I don't really need to know it is a recording of lieder by Janet Baker. Peter Robinson does go on at length about this and I do wish somebody at his publishers would tell him to tone it down a bit.
But, apart from that, a return to form.
So three good tecs this week and I have a few more on the pile waiting to go....
Plenty of books published this year about the Great War, both fiction and non-fiction and I have been sent my share to review. There have been so many of them I have not read them all but here are two that have kept me busy over the last ten days.
The Storms of War - Kate Williams. This is the first in the de Witt chronicles I understand and I should tell you now that if this is only volume one you are in for a long read as this book has over 500 pages and took some reading. Very Downton Abbyish, it starts in the summer of 1914, that long hot idyllic time before war was declared and which is now looked back on as a halycon period before the horrors changed that time and world for ever. The elder daughter is engaged to be married and her wedding is being planned, one brother is studying in Paris and the other at Cambridge. Celia is the youngest child not quite grown up, but not quite a child and we see a lot of the story and events through her sharp eyes.
Of course the war changes everything and the story, or chronicles, tells the reader of the joys and sorrows they undergo throughout the start of the War.
An absorbing read.
The second was Goodbye Piccadilly by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. This is the first in a new series by this author, The War at Home. Those of us who have read the Morland Saga and who love and appreciate this writer will be delighted to see this book and I have spent most of today totally engrossed. Again, we meet a family living in the country with the eldest daughter, Diana, beautiful and eager to be married; David is the eldest son eager to fight and do something worthwhile with his life (this son is at Oxford not Cambridge!) and Sally the younger daughter who loves horses and shuns the fashionable life.
The writing is, naturally, excellent and the characters drawn with the usual warmth and skill that we have come to expect from CHE. It is a shame that for the time being there are to be no more Morland stories, but when I contacted CHE about this, she said that she had been commissioned to write this series and if it did well, then she might be able to get back to the Morlands.
As this is a terrific book with the usual impeccably researched background, then you know what to do.
As per I have been really busy this week and apologies again for lack of posts. Was expecting to put my feet up when I received email from daughter 'Mum you ARE coming to Ealing this Thursday aren't you?' AAAGH had got dates mixed up and panic set in. I was visiting a friend in Peasenhall and could not get there until Thursday afternoon so other grandma stepped in while I quietly tore my hair out. Friday was the important day as Helen had to supervise a Viva and needed Florence to be taken care of (Beatrice is at nursery) so I got there late Thursday afternoon.
Horrible hot and sticky day and I have to say that a drive along the North Circular was not particularly high on my list of things to do, but hey ho it is off we go. I decided to hell with it and put on shorts, flip flops and an old t-shirt to drive in. I would normally not go out in an outfit like this, there are some things ladies of a certain age should not wear in public and shorts is one of them as far as I am concerned. Feel free to disagree.
Anyway, off I went and very glad I was dressed down. I always drive in bare feet as well so I had the minimum amount of clothing on that decorum required and spent a lot of the time stuck in traffic pouring cold water down my back to keep me cool. Getting used to the journey now and it gets easier as the route becomes more familiar.
Lovely time with the girls as always but Florence, who disliked sleeping on her own and gets scared of the dark even though she has a night light, decided to come through in the middle of the night and sleep with me. I have no problem with this, it is wonderful to wake up with her curled up next to me, but the main problem is she flings her arms and legs around and now and then clonks me on the nose. I also wake up and find, that though we are in a double bed, that I am clinging to the edge while she is spread out like a starfish. But I cherish the first hour of the day when Beatrice and Helen come through and we are all in bed together laughing and chatting.
I am home now for five days and have little to do and am going to keep it that way. Too hot to do anything energetic. Spent most of today watching the Test March and Alistair Cook has finally made a decent score. Of course this has been regarded as the Second Coming and all of us who have doubted his captaincy are being castigated and attacked on Twitter and elsewhere. I am pleased that Cook the batsman is back but Cook the captain is still with us and his captaincy is pretty poor. But of course the journalists are falling over themselves to say Yah boo sucks as they have all toed the ECB line for months. Anyway, enough of that else I will be here for hours.
Have been watching DVDs tonight as I am filled with indifference about the Commonwealth Games and the schedules are pretty drenched in that so first of all I watched The Grand Budapest Hotel which I simply loved. It was witty, funny and moving all at once and the acting of the collective group of thesps, most of whom had a tiny part, was spot on and excellent. Ralph Fiennes excelled in the main role of the Concierge and I loved every minute of it.
And then, in complete contrast, I watched The Hunger Games which I did not think might be my kind of film, but I simply loved that too in a totally different way. The way the crowds watched the 'live' show reminded me of one of my favourite films, the Truman Show, and I thought it was excellent and had me on the edge of my seat. It had a fairly open ending and I gather that there is a series of books so presume there will be another in the franchise.
While I was watching all of this I decided to catch up on my ironing. Yes I know but really it was a huge pile and it was cooler in the evening and it had to be done and yaddy yaddy ..... Well I did it all but the sweat was absolutely dripping off me by the time I had finished but I decided to get it done in one go and get the suffering out of the way for another month or so. Felt pleased when it was all done.
So an exciting time as you can see. By the way my iron is brand new, courtesy of Amazon as I had it to use and review and then keep. Fantastic iron. If my old iron was a battered Mini this one was a Mercedes. Irons amazingly well. But do you know it costs £90. Yes £90!!! I mean WHO would pay that for an iron?
I had so many comments and emails re my last post on Serial Detectives I am returning to this subject, not least because there were so many I missed out or had forgotten so here we go again.
First of all, in response to a comment and some emails, I have really tried to like Margery Allingham but I can't. I have read three or four of her books as I know that sometimes it can take a while to become involved. I admire the writing, which is excellent and economical, no fuss or fussiness which I cannot abide but, try as I might, I cannot warm to Campion or to the ghastly named Lugg. Sorry!
I have also tried Gladys Mitchell and failed. Ditto Edmund Crispin and Michael Innes.
I mentioned Miss Marple but of course have to also name Patricia Wentworth and her creation Miss Silver who has a lot in common with the lady from St Mary Mead. I wonder who came first? I blitzed all of these books, courtesy of a friend who had the lot, a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed them but the trouble with doing this is that you do notice recurring plot devices. In the Wentworth books there is always somebody who knows more than they are admitting to and who tries to blackmail the murderer with the result that they end up dead as well. Christie has used this a couple of times but not so often. However, I still loved them and will probably re-read them again some day.
Ngaio Marsh - I love love love these books and read the entire series (about 39) every other year or so. I was rather disappointed to read recently that Marsh was rather snide about Dorothy L Sayers and her hero and accused her of falling in love with him and wallowing in it all. Words Pot and Kettle come to mind here, as Ngaio certainly goes overboard on her 'posh inspector' Alleyn and endows him with all sorts of virtues which almost, not quite, but almost make him unbearable.
So having mentioned DL Sayers I have to say, though you know this already, that I adore Lord Peter Wimsey and the Harriet Vane books are among my most favourite of all time. Gaudy Night is just perfect as far as I am concerned and I read it at least twice a year. I do wish the series with Edward Petherbridge would be reshown on the TV as they are impossible to get on DVD unless you are in the USA and they are beautifully done.
Linda Castillo - an American writer who tells the story of the female Chief of Police in Painters Mill in Amish Country. Lots of fascinating background, gruesome murders and very well written. I have downloaded the latest on my Kindle and am already absorbed.
Tess Gerritsen - another USA writer whose stories are set in Boston. Her protagonists are Detective Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles, medical examiner. Extremely well plotted and, at times, rather scary they are very well written and I recommend them highly. Do read in order though, particularly The Surgeon and The Apprentice as these are linked. Dreadful TV series has been made which I find unwatchable.
OK am I finished? Almost but I cannot go without mentioning ScandiCrime. Henning Mankell with his Wallander books, now sadly finished, held me in thrall one summer a year or two ago when I did my usual and read the lot in one fell swoop; Camilla Lackberg who I love and Jo Nesbo who I have stopped reading for a while as some of them got a bit too near the knuckle re violence and the description of same for me to stomach.
Nobody mention Patricia Cornwall please. Started them and had to give up as the forensic detail given, which the author seemed to revel in, made me nauseous.
Must just close with a writer, Jane Casey and her Maeve Kerrigan books, which started off slowly and are now really getting going.
OK that is it. I daresay I shall do Serial Detectives three soon as I think of more. I know there are plenty and I know you will all recommend new names to me.
I do love discovering new detectives, well new to me at any rate, particularly when there is a whole series to keep me going. Over the lifetime of this blog I have indulged in quite a few and thought it would be fun to see how many I have read.
Donna Leon - Brunetti series. These are set in Venice and when I discovered them I was hooked. First one I read was Death at la Fenice which had the glorious combination of murder and opera, irresistible. I then plunged into an orgy of Venetian mysteries and polished off the lot in a month and then had to wait each year patiently for the next one to be published. I have found that the last two or three have lacked a certain something, not quite sure what, but I feel that the author may have begun to tire of Brunetti and Paola his intellectual wife who manages to knock up stunning lunches each day and reads Henry James for fun. I, too, have begun to tire of her and now find her perfection irritating but Brunetti continues to fascinate.
Andrea Camilleri - Inspector Montalbano. Ah these I will never tire of. I have just read and reviewed the fourteenth in the series over on Shiny New Books here so do have a read. The characters in these books are so endearing and funny and full of human frailty and the gem in the middle is Catarella, the intellectually challenged policeman who would lay down his life for the Inspector. There have been times reading these books when I have wept with laughter.
Martin O'Brien - Daniel Jacquot. These books are set in Marseilles and simply reek of fish and Galouise and are totally atmospheric. The hero, Daniel, is an ex-rugby player who wears his hair in a ponytail. Yes, I know but he is gorgeous and sexy. The stories are exceptionally well plotted and written and I simply love them.
Back in the UK I have enjoyed the Roy Grace books by Peter James. These are set in Brighton and part of their charm for me is knowing the streets and areas in which the stories are located. A long running series, I feel they need to be read in order so that you can follow the development of his character and the story of his personal life, which is tangled to say the least. Nothing new there.....
P D James - Inspector Dalgliesh. No need for recommendations from me for these simply wonderful books. Superbly written with a clarity of style which I find so satisfying to read. Dalgliesh is a fascinating character and I do wish a TV series could be made that did him justice. The originals were made back in the seventies and are a tad old hat now and the most recent with Martin Shaw, totally wooden and uncharismatic, were boring. Well I thought so, please feel free to disagree.
Susan Hill - Simon Serrailer. The charismatic Simon lives in Lafferton and heads up the specialist crime division. Devoted to his sister and her family he avoids commitment himself and when he finally falls in love, it is with somebody out of his reach. HIs family life runs alongside the current investigation and it is best to read these in order so that the reader can see the time line. Very well written and unputdownable.
And now the USA
Michael Connelly - Harry Bosch is his detective in the LAPD. Goes without saying that he is divorced and estranged from his daughter for several of the books. Gritty and realistic they are compulsively readable and as the author kindly writes at least one a year, all to a high standard, I don't have to wait too long for the next fix. He also writes books starring another character, Micky Haller, a downtown lawer who operates just on the right side of the law. Both series are excellent. A film was made of a Haller book, The Lincoln Lawyer, which follows the storyline exactly and is very good indeed.
Lee Childs - Jack Reacher. I have recently mentioned the Jack Reacher books and nothing more to add other than they are all exactly the same, same super cool dialogue, same hero, same actions, all good fun and instantly forgettable. No need to bother reading them in order as it makes no difference at all. Fun.
I am in the throes of a re-read of the books of Anne Zouroudi. Her detective, or investigator really, is the Fat Man as he is described - his name is Hermes Diaktoris and he laughs that his father gave him this name meaning the Winged Messenger. The stories are set in the Greek islands and the atmosphere, heat, smell and feeling of the sun scorched lands is on every page. Hermes rights wrongs and dispenses his own brand of justice, helping those in pain and sorrow and punishing those who have committed a crime. When asked where he comes from and who he is, his reply is that he is from Athens and is not with the police but with a 'higher authority'. I leave it to the reader to come to their own conclusion. They are excellent and I urge you to try them.
One of the charms of detective stories set abroad is the attention paid to food. Here is a link to a post of a few years ago now which illustrates the importance of food in the Italian stories I have mentioned above:
The Zouroudi books are the same. No fish and chips in the police canteen here.
I love crime fiction, have done all my life and am amazed at the ingenuity and creativity of their authors. I have not mentioned Sayers or Christie, two of my most favourite authors, saving that for another day as pretty sure once I get started on them the post will go on for reams and reams. And then there is Patricia Wentworth, Georgette Heyer, Peter Robinson Inspector Banks series, and we had better not get started on Nordic crime, that too will wait for another day
I understand that Penguin are planning on republishing Simenon's Maigret books. I am ashamed to say I have read none of them so will look forward to seeing how I get on with this author. He wrote over 100 so I am hoping that I love them on first sight as they will keep me going for some time........
Frances Hodgson Burnett is the much loved children’s author of the timeless classics The Secret Garden, A Little Princess and Little Lord Fauntleroy and yet how many people know that before the wrote children’s fiction she was a highly successful author of dozens of adult novels? Not many, I would guess.
I was one of the ignorant until one day I came across an American publication in my local library of a book called The Making of a Marchioness. I took it home with me, sat down to read it, and did not speak to anybody for about half a day until I had finished it.
This book features an unlikely pair of lovers - a dull, prosaic Marquis bored by being pursued by society women, and Miss Emily Fox-Seton, who cannot be described in any way as young or beautiful or even interesting. She is a good hearted, good natured woman, living by her own endeavours and, unmarried at nearly 30, facing a frightening future on her own.
Just a few of my collection....
She meets her future husband, the Marquis of Walderhurst, at a weekend house party where she is paying for her keep by organising a function for her hostess. At the same party we meet Lady Agatha Slade, a society beauty, who is in a state of high anxiety and nervousness as she feels that she is failing in her duty by not marrying well and saving the family fortunes. With younger sisters at home she knows her time on the marriage market is limited. Despite the disparity in their positions, Lady Agatha and Emily Fox-Seton become friends, linked together by their terror of a lonely old age. On the surface of it, The Making of a Marchioness is a Cinderella story, but Frances Hodgson Burnett was making her own comment on the very nature of the society in which it is set, in which women were at the mercy of circumstances and were only judged by whether they made a ‘good’ marriage or not.
This book was reprintedby Persephone books a few years ago and has been one of their best sellers. They went on to publish another by this author, The Shuttle. This tells the story of the influx of American heiresses in English Edwardian society where their money, married to an English title, saved many a historic family from failure. The title can be looked at it two ways: that of a shuttle weaving the threads together between the two countries or, as a modern usage of the word which we are more used to, that of shuttling backwards and forwards across the Atlantic.
This book is writing of a high order, totally absorbing and in its own way, quite daring. Without giving any of the plot away, there is a scene where our heroine has been abducted and FHB makes it clear that a rape is in the offing. Heavy stuff at that time!
Hesperus Press are now reissuing some of Frances Hodgson Burnett's lesser known titles. The Lost Prince and Lady of Quality are two which I have recently read and which I will be reviewing in due course for the quarterly web magazine, Shiny New Books, which I do urge you to check out. Full of wonderful things and I was privileged to have two of my reviews in Issue No 2.
Many of these titles are available for the Kindle or can be downloaded to whatever e-reader you may have. I think I paid something like 75p for download her entire works which really is a bargain and now I have them with me wherever I go. I think she is a simply wonderful writer and so glad that she is being made available again.
Here I am again with a roundup of books I have read over the last week or so. Nice collection and kept me entertained.
Personal - Lee Childs. The latest Jack Reacher and, like all the others, full of complications and twists and turns and haf the time I don't know what is going on. Somebody has attempted to assassinate the French President. I make no comment on this....
Turns out the shot was one only a very exclusive bunch of snipers could do and Jack Reacher knows one of them. Indeed, he put him away for sixteen years but it now transpires he is out of jail and seemingly on the market again. Three other snipers are also on the list of possible assassins but one by one they are found and it boils down to one man, one name. Lots of ins and outs, lots of descriptions of hand to hand combat, an attractive woman, lots of sharp terse super cool dialogue and, well, that is it really. Read in an hour or two, enjoyed and will no doubt sell in its millions.
Invisible - Christine Poulson. Light years away from Jack Reacher but, in my opinion, better plotted and better written. Our heroine, Lisa, has a son who suffers from cerebral palsy. She is a single mother as her husband left them as he could not cope with the disability of his child. Lisa has a lover, Jay. She meets him once a month and during that time she can forget her responsibilities and just live for the moment.
And then one day, Jay doesn't turn up at their rendezvous. Worried that he may have had an accident or is ill, she tries to find him and it is then that she realises she knows little about him, he has given her a false address and is obviously not who she thought he was. Lisa decides to track him down but in doing she she finds herself in danger as, all unknowingly, she leads hidden watchers to Jay who has been keeping out of sight for several years. If I say witness protection programme and revenge then that will give you a clue about the story without giving anything away which I do not want to do.
As I said well plotted and written and I found myself engaging with the characters of Lisa and her son Ricky. This is essential if you want to get involved in a good story. With the Lee Childs books I really don't give a damn what happens to him (a) because you know full well that Childs is not going to kill off a franchise and (b) he is basically a cardboard character and you care very little for him. This book is totally different and the better for it. I happen to have read the two books within a few days of each other and the contrast was striking. I know which one I prefer...
Summer at the Lake - Erica James. Simply loved this book. I very much enjoy Erica's writing and think I have read all of her titles now. Starts off with Floriana receiving an invitation to the wedding of an old friend who she has not seen for years since a huge argument severed their friendship. Now here is a chance to meet up with him again but she is uncertain whether she wants to go or not. Pondering on this on the way back home she doesn't look where she is going and is knocked down by a speeding car.
She is taken to the hospital by two strangers who were nearby; Adam, who really does not want to get involved as he is sore and upset by the breakdown of a relationship and just wants to leave things alone and Esme, an elderly lady who insists that she and Adam give help to Floriana and make sure that she is looked after on her return home.
A friendship builds between the three, all of them in their own way alone and isolated and they persuade Floriana to attend the wedding which is in Como and to try and put the past behind her. Esme spent a summer there many many years ago and has a reason for returning to a place where she was happy. So accompanied by Adam off they go and, if I was writing a blurb for the back of the book, I would probably say something along the lines of 'where they meet their destinies'
A simply smashing book and I loved every word of it.
I would like to draw your attention to one of my favourite publishing houses. Over the years I have read many books from their list but just recently I have spotted an abundance of favourites which are simply mouthwatering. The title which have caught my eye are in Hesperus Minor which is a carefully edited selection of reprints of children's classics which they are republishing so that a new generation of readers can discover them.
One which I am absolutely delighted with is The Runaways by Elizabeth Goudge. I have an original copy of this title but it was then called Linnets and Valerians. Cannot quite understand the reason for the new name, but not matter. This is a simply enchanting book by one of my all time favourite authors so do get hold of a copy if you can.
The Coral Island by Ballantyne which I reviewed earlier here. A favourite of mine as a child though nobody could understand why I wanted to read a 'boy's book'. The Story of the Treasure Seekers by Nesbit, another favourite and though I am sure it is available in other formats Hesperus make their books look so lovely and wantable that this should be on your list as well.
And so we come to the classic section giving us all the chance to get hold of out of print titles. I would draw your attention to The Blue Castle and Tangled Web which I have already reviewed, both by L M Montgomery and are probably not as well known as the Anne or Emily books. The Emily books have been reissued by Virago and another, Jane of Lantern Hill, is now available, all wonderful stories that have adorned my bookshelves for years, albeit in battered old copies which I will never get rid of even if I should be lucky enough to have new editions.
I would like to flag up one of my favourite authors, Frances Hodgson Burnett and the publishing of one of her books which very few will have heard of, A Lady of Quality. I have just finished reading this and will be reviewing soon, set in the 17th century and stylistically purple prose and huge fun, tells the story of a strong willed and unloved girl who manages to curb her temperament and turn herself into a Lady.
Also by this author The Lost Prince - which I think is probably my most favourite story by FHB.
"Twelve-year-old Marco Loristan is an exiled Samavian boy, living in London with his father. Usually to be found whiling away the day, roaming the city in the company of street urchins, Marco’s life is suddenly turned upside down when he is confided a covert mission to Europe. He must travel across the continent to bear a secret signal to the Samavian rebels plotting to overthrow the kingdom’s cruel dictator. Little does Marco know the dangers his journey will unleash or where his destiny will lead him"
Positively Ruritanian and simply wonderfully gorgeous romantic.
Due next month Old Friends and New Fancies by Sybil Brinton, which I believe is one of the earliest,if not the first Austen sequels. I have an old copy of this which I am currently re-reading with huge enjoyment and can recommend this to all Jane Austen fans. I know the legion of sequels and prequels can be off putting but this is one of the best and not a Death at Pemberley, Murder at Mansfield Park or a Zombie in sight....
Do check out their website and their catalogues and if you can resist ordering any I have mentioned, plus more, then you are a better man than I, Gunga Din.
Always difficult to follow up a successful first time out event but Meg Reid, the Festival Director, managed it with seeming ease. Held at the Orwell Hotel, whose staff really got behind the event, and with the use of the Elizabeth Suite to hold talks, host the bookshop and a place where snacks and drinks could be bought and consumed while chatting about what was to come, meant that the event moved efficiently and smoothly.
I was rather nervous when I arrived as I was to introduce four authors over the weekend, plus the speaker at the dinner on Saturday night but preparation is all and I had read and googled and got my notes and what I was going to say all ready. First up was Liz Trenow who gave a wonderful talk about her book The Forgotten Seamstress which I reviewed here and the quilt which was at the heart of the story. Very well attended and totally fascinating.
Then I found myself in the wonderful position of introducing Dr Helen McCarthy who was there to talk about her book Women of the World and if there is anybody out there who does not know that Helen is my daughter, then all I can say is Where Have You Been?? I was worried that I might burst into tears so proud was I but managed to restrain myself and sat there listening to her talk given with great aplomb and style and knowledge and thought This is my Daughter........
The whole day was made even better by the purchase of the Guardian which featured her book and a fantastic review, ditto the Telegraph.
In the evening we had a dinner at the Orwell and the staff, particularly Kostas who was in charge, were so helpful and delightful and any nerves I may have had were soothed. I found I could not eat a great deal as I was keeping an eye on things and knew I had to stand up to introduce Steven Gauge who was an absolute sweetie. His chat was witty and funny and went down well and it seems, according to his blog, that I am a 'charming prolific blogger'. Not going to argue with that.....
Weather throughout the weekend was pretty atrocious and rainy but did not seem to daunt the many attendees and the whole event was a great success. Meg had an enormous gang of volunteers who manned desks, sold tickets, fixed up microphones, sorted out screens and she and they are to be congratulated on giving of their time and enthusiasm to help the whole thing go with a swing.
Steven Gauge ended up his talk on Saturday by praising communities who pull together and make things happen and said that Felixstowe Book Festival was a prime example of what you can do if you have a good idea and the goodwill and enthusiasm to make it into reality.