The summer of 2018 may seem like a long time ago now but I have just received these gorgeous photographs and simply had to share them. My mother, Maureen, was invited to a meeting by the Bookworms Book Club. They are a group of book lovers belonging to the Cam & Dursley U3A. They chose Dance with Fireflies as one of their summer reads.
I just love the setting of this book club meeting, in the stunning gardens belonging to Jo, one of the U3A members. The tablecloth, pretty glasses and umbrella could easily be a scene from the book, some of which is set in the days of the decaying British Raj in India.
Mum (in the white top) enjoyed sharing the family photograph album with the group who avidly searched out family members they felt they knew through reading the novel. “They discussed them as if old friends,” commented mum, who said she felt privileged to be the centre of attention.
Mum received a lovely letter….the answer to which is…Yes! the sequel is written. I’m on the prowl for the right publisher. Watch this space.
Today I received my Nainital Nostalgia 2019 Limited Edition Calendar. I am thrilled to see the images of Barnes Restaurant adorning the month of March. The restaurant was run by my grandmother, Phyllis Dover and her sister Muriel in the 1930’s. From the hundreds of letters I have spent reading (for the research of my first novel – Dance with Fireflies), I think they ran it with great gusto and thoroughly enjoyed themselves! They held all kinds of parties that serviced the needs of the local gentry and army camp in Tallital. The British Raj was still in full swing, the piano was played (often by Phyllis) and the gramophone wound up, ready for action.
This beautiful calendar is the end result of a group of admirers and residents of this historical hill station who have worked together (with the help of Facebook) from across the globe….including India, Australia and the UK.
I feel very privileged to be part of Nainital Nostalgia; a Facebook group that started about 8 years ago. The warmth and kindness from its members along with their incredible knowledge of this remote town that meant so much to my ancestors is remarkable.
This will be a year-round reminder of this amazing place my family once called home and where my great, great grandmother is buried.
It’s that time of year again…the leaves are turning and hordes of book lovers are descending on my home town.
The Cheltenham Literature Festival is always such a great event, particularly when it’s on the doorstep. I am renowned for being useless at catching buses and frequently miss them … I swear I have timetable dyslexia!
So it was a miracle that we made it to Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s talk about the impact of her work and fantastic feminist views. I have enjoyed all of her novels. My favourite is probably Purple Hibiscus (another lent out never to return) followed very closely by Half of a Yellow Sun. If you enjoy great fiction with superb characters and plot and fancy losing yourself for a few days, read them. You won’t be disappointed.
The following day we made it (I know, weird right? Two days in a row and I negotiate the bus network!) to a superb discussion on the Syrian conflict hosted by Lindsey Hilsum. Lyse Doucet, BBC’s Chief International Correspondent was a great speaker; passion and knowledge abounded.
I couldn’t resist buying a copy of No Turning back by one of the other panellists, Rania Abouzeid; an outstanding journalist with many stories to share. Alfie (my son and companion to the festival) was very happy with his signed copy.
After a delicious smoked salmon and cream cheese crepe in the food tent and a discreet distribution of Dance with Fireflies bookmarks on tables, we made the last bus home…..unfortunately, the only bus back wasn’t exactly a direct route. We alighted at The Rising Sun pub on Cleeve Hill and walked through two fields of sheep as the light faded. Luckily I wore trainers and not heels (I’m not really a heel kind of person). Almost home, our house in sight, the mother of all rams, big, black and well hung, stood in the only gateway, blocking our path home.
A bit of flapping about with the newly acquired Waterstone’s bag with the aptly titled No Turning Back book inside, finally worked on the stubborn beast and our journey was complete.
Thought I’d have a go at this…. taken at Cowley Manor, my favourite cheeky lunch venue. This is my big sister. The quote is a genuine 5* review on Amazon. I’m particularly chuffed with the reference to Andrea Levy, the author that inspired me to put pen to paper and write Dance with Fireflies!
So last night I met the amazing Vikram Seth after an enlightening session at the Oxford Literary Festival. What struck me was not only his total passion for the written word, be it novels or poetry but also his warmth.
He indulged me in a lengthy conversation and even complimented me on the title of my novel (Dance with Fireflies) which I gave to him, despite a snaking queue of people wishing to speak with him. He asked me to dedicate it to him as he was signing my copy of A Suitable Boy….what a great moment!
I was lucky enough to hang about for a while and felt hugely pleased to see him rest his arm on my book throughout the whole signing process.
As we sped back to Burford that evening to enjoy one of my husband’s birthday treats …a night at The Golden Pheasant, I prayed to the stars that Vikram would at least flick through my book, if not read it.
I can’t wait for A Suitable Girl….published later this year .
Time for some reading! I find it quite hard to read when I’m immersed in my own writing. I don’t want my characters to blend unintentionally with others. I need full concentration on my own storytelling. So I am feeling a little lacklustre regards my reading of late. I did manage Nutshell by Ian McEwan, but it was pretty short.
Having just completed Book Two, I feel able to step away from the keyboard and look outside. I’m incredibly excited to be attending The Oxford Literary Festival to see Vikram Seth at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford.
I am ashamed to say a previous attempt at Seth’s long novel (a massive 591,552words…equivalent of 5 Dance with Fireflies!) stumbled half way through.
Second time lucky… I may be some time!