Monthly Archives: October 2017

Gordon Square, London

I have set some of the scenes in my new novel in London in 1921.

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One of my characters, recently arrived from Australia is living in a flat in Gordon Square. In the opening scene of one chapter she is walking around taking in the sights of London: The weather was getting better and spring was in full bloom in the parks, the gardens awash with daffodils and bluebells. Later in the story I set several scenes in the park opposite her flat. Another character conveniently lives in a nearby house in Tavistock Square.

This area of London was one I frequently walked through when I lived in London some years ago. I loved the parks and the townhouses and the literary links to the past.

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The Square was home to members of the Bloomsbury Group. I found a book written about the group (sadly loaned and lost) in a second hand bookshop in Sydney when I worked in that city. While I knew about the group this book sparked my interest and through the years I have read many books about and by its individual members.

 

The Bloomsbury Group—or Bloomsbury Set— was an influential group of associated English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists, the best known members of which included Virginia Woolf, her sister Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey.

10, Looking out from the Church of Christ the King ...

Looking out from the Church of Christ the King on to Gordon Square.

 Photograph Patrick Comerford, 2011  

http://www.patrickcomerford.com

And in the serendipitious way of things I found Patrick Comerford’s award winning blog. It was so exciting because my next novel will be set partly in Ireland and I can see from the brief glimpse I had of the blog that it will be helpful for my research. My new novel will have a touch of magic about it and of course a lovely garden that is linked to the story.

Have a wonderful week: reading, writing, dreaming.

Elise 

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Paddy Richardson-Through the Lonesome Dark

I met Paddy Richardson when we were on a panel together: Worlds at War: The Appeal of 20th Century Historical Fiction at the recent HNSA conference in Melbourne and in the course of my preparation for the panel I read the first pages of her latest novel Through the Lonesome Dark.

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I recently finished reading this wonderful novel. Paddy Richardson is a fine writer and her characters are so part of the landscape of the era the novel is set that it’s hard to believe they came from her imagination.

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Writing from a child’s perspective is never easy but Richardson does it with ease and as we follow Pansy on her journey from childhood to young adulthood I can only compare Richardson’s writing to Ruth Park. I also keep thinking Katherine Mansfield who had the same magic and immediacy that Richardson’s writing does.

Blackball where the story opens was named after the Black Ball Shipping Line, which leased land in the area to mine for coal. It was formerly known as Joliffetown and Moonlight Gully.

Richardson brings Blackball to life in the times surrounding the First World War. There is hardship and sadness but there is also much hope in the story.

Pansy is a strong  and delightful protagonist. Later in the novel Clem, who loves the mining life but volunteers for the war, is the protagonist. This gives the book its battle scenes and the underlying feeling that war is young men fighting old men’s wars.

From the back cover: For the men of the town, Blackball is the daily hardship of working the mine. For the women, it’s the dismal cottages with the piles of coal outside. Yet for Pansy, Otto and Clem, childrend of Blackball, it’s the treasure of the creek and bush and the richness of the friendship which binds them together. But, as Pansy soon realises, ‘grown up is serious’ and past promise cannot be kept.

Set in the times surrounding the Great War, Through the Lonesome Dark confronts and questions the loyalties demanded by family, friendship and love –– both at home and amongst the ravages of war –– and the hope of finding your way back.

Biography

Dunedin writer Paddy Richardson is a prolific fiction author. To date she has published two collections of short stories, Choices (Hard Echo Press, 1986), If We Were Lebanese (Steele Roberts, 2003), and seven novels, The Company of a Daughter (Steele Roberts, 2000), A Year to Learn a Woman (Penguin, 2008), Hunting Blind (Penguin, 2010), Traces of Red (Penguin, 2011), Cross Fingers (Hachette, 2013) Swimming in the Dark (Upstart Press, 2014) and Through the Lonesome Dark (Upstart press, May 2017). Four of the last five have been finalists in the Ngaio Marsh Award. Paddy has been awarded three Creative New Zealand Awards, the University of Otago Burns Fellowship (1997), the Beatson Fellowship (2007), and the James Wallace Arts Trust Residency Award (2011). Her work had been published in Australia (MacMillans), and translated and published in Germany (Droemer Knaur). Although she has turned to psychological thriller writing more recently, her first novel was a saga of five generations of New Zealand women, described as a ‘lyrical, slow-moving’ and ‘meditative’. Reviewing her more recent novel Cross Fingers, author Nicky Pellegrino wrote: ‘Part thriller, part social comment, part history, this is a very New Zealand story, stylishly written and compellingly plotted’.

Paddy’s work has appeared in journals, anthologies, including takahē and Landfall and on radio. It has been highly commended in several writing competitions, including the Katherine Mansfield and Sunday Star Times Short Story Awards. Paddy is an experienced teacher of creative writing and has been a speaker at many writing festivals including the most recent Dunedin Writer and Readers Book Week. In 2012, she represented New Zealand at both the Leipzig and Frankfurt Book Fairs.

She is presently working on her new novel, Cheerio Old Son, which is set during the First World War.

Through the Lonesome Dark is wonderful story written by an exceptionally talented writer.

Elise 

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Beauty in Thorns – Kate Forsyth

Beauty in Thorns is a book I was waiting to read after following Kate Forsyth’s blog during the time she was writing the story. Kate, is a wonderful writer and also one who is generous in sharing her writing skills and knowledge with other authors.

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~ Quotes from the backcover blurb.

‘A spellbinding reimagining of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ set amongst the wild bohemian circle of Pre-Raphaelite artists and poets.’

‘Bringing to life the dramatic true story of love, obsession and heartbreak that lies behind the Victorian era’s most famous paintings, Beauty in Thorns is the story of awakenings of all kinds.’

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The story is written in mulitple view points~Lizzie Siddal, Georgie (Georgiana) Macdonald, Jane Burden, and later in the novel Margot Burne-Jones the daughter of Georgie and Edward (Ned)Burne-Jones.

Beauty in Thorns takes the reader on a journey. With mulitple view points Kate Forsyth has magically brought all the view point characters to life. It is a character driven story with a wonderful backdrop of the Pre-Raphaelite circle including as well as the aforementioned William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (a wonderfully romantic name).

Kate has had an obsession with the Pre-Raphaelite circle since, as a young uni student, she came across a copy of Proserpine by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, modelled on his lover, Jane Morris nee Burden. Kate bought the print (sacrificing food and bus fares fro a week).

Proserpine

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Beauty in Thorns is a treasure: exquisite writing, research woven through the story (research you can rely on) that brings the story to life, a book that makes you want to turn back to the first page to read the story again when you finish reading.

You can read more about Kate’s work on her website:  www.kateforsyth.com.au

Have a wonder week~dreaming, reading and writing!

Elise 

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