This week’s post is about books and their authors, who are all women, as it happens. Writing about the City of Durham (I live just four miles from the city centre) and about the surrounding area, is a feature of this blog. (See some examples here, here, here, here and here).
Over the last ten days I’ve been at three events in this year’s Durham Book Festival – and of course I’ve got the bag. (I do like a thick, well-printed calico bag!)
I was organised and booked tickets as soon as the brochure came out. Prompt arrival at my first event afforded me a front row seat just feet away from the great Jenni Murray, presenter of Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 in the UK. She was as direct, interesting and entertaining in person, on stage, as she is on live radio. What a privilege! Jenni was talking about her book A History of Britain in 21 Women: A Personal Selection and was encouraged to read extracts in her rich voice. I can only describe it as having a ‘caramel’ quality to it, if you have never heard her speak.She mentioned a compliment she had once been given on having ‘a well-stocked mind’; there was strong evidence of this on this occasion – I’m about to buy the book, I’m so looking forward to it.
The next event was a morning one – with coffee and cake, no less – and the interviewee was Rachel Joyce. She is an accomplished radio drama writer, but my first introduction to her novels was The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which was given to me as a birthday present. It’s an engaging, unusual and moving story, which prompted me to then read the associated title Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, (Queenie is a character in the first book). Queenie is located here in the North-East of England – an added bonus. In the session, Rachel was speaking about – and reading from – her new novel The Music Shop. I have not read it yet, and the event was carefully constructed so as to entice the reader in, without giving away too much of the plot. The music shop owner was introduced and we learned that he sought to help and heal his customers with suggestions of music that they needed to listen to. It is clear that this new book will demand reading and listening skills…
And finally, I heard Harriet Harman interviewed by Anita Sethi about her autobiography A woman’s work. I’d heard her interviewed about it on Woman’s Hour (see above!) and was delighted to see her in person talking about the extensive and dramatic changes in women’s lives in political and economic spheres. She spoke convincingly yet modestly about her own involvement in fighting for change. I bought the book!
And in Other News…
this first print proof arrived from Spoonflower this week:
It’s a tea-towel featuring watercolour paintings of some of the beautiful fish to be found on the reefs around Australia. The fabric is a linen-cotton mix and four tea-towels can be made from a linear yard, as the width is 54″. You can see it here.