Sunday, 18 October 2009

Rivers return...

On a windswept day in October I returned to the Isle of Dogs with my husband and family and travelled the same streets as my characters in the Rivers books. Danny and his costermonger's cart, Billy and his bare knuckle boxing, Lizzie in her bomb-damaged grocery shop, Rose and her Coronation TV set, fallen off the back of a post-war lorry. I saw them all, happy ghosts, under the shadow of the magnificent Canary Wharf building. I stood outside "our" old house, also in its shadow, but now regenerated into an investor's dream. We stopped at The Nelson for a bite to eat and walked the dog at the local park, flanked by the bridges of the Dockland Settlement. My Dad walked with me in his invisible celestial garb, but I know he was there, recalling the days of his youth almost a century ago. Mum was at home, unable to make the journey, or should it be, pilgrimage? A promo-day later, we were on the train and returning...always returning, if not physically then in mind and heart to the Source.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Is the Book Dead?

Throughout September and October I’ve been engrossed writing the first part of my work in progress, which is a sequel to House of Angels.

You can read a review for this latest title on Bookbag:

Sadly as a result of all this dedication, or perhaps obsession is a better word, things like blogs, newsletters, websites and dinner for my lovely David all get forgotten.

We did enjoy a few days break in London which was all very bookish. I attended a couple of meetings: one with the RNA where Freya North gave a fascinating and inspirational talk, and one with the Society of Authors where it was debated whether the book was dead. Fortunately it was decided that there was still life in the analogue, battery-free book. And why not? People still listen to radio, don’t they, so why shouldn’t they go on reading real paper books, and not just e-books? It’s seriously scary though that a college in Boston is selling off and giving away their collection of books from its library, apparently to save space, and turning entirely to digital. Do students no longer browse along the shelves, dipping into the delights a book might offer simply out of curiosity? Do they always know what they are looking for, and can they be certain of finding it online? And do they not realise that computers and e-readers are far more environmentally unfriendly than a book made from recycled paper? Read a printed book and save the planet. How’s that for a campaign? I love the feel, the smell of books, the sight of them stacked on my bookshelves, the promise of a pile of new ones by my bed waiting to reveal their secrets. Whether or not I am tempted to buy an e-reader, long may the book live.

Best wishes, Freda

Monday, 5 October 2009

Octavia by Beryl Kingston

I haven't read a Beryl Kingston book for years, but I saw Octavia a few weeks ago and decided to buy it. I enjoyed it.
Much is expected of Octavia Smith. Growing up a much-loved only child surrounded by family friends like George Bernard Shaw and William Morris, Octavia takes it as a matter of course that she will more than meet those expectations. Her childhood ambition is to change the world, but will the sometimes chaotic and often somber events of the early twentieth century allow her to?
During her university career, Octavia joins the Suffragettes, becoming passionately devoted to the ‘cause'. But will the arrival on the scene of the attractive Tommy Meriton give her passions another path to follow?
While the horrors of World War One and subsequent events threaten to tear apart her delicate network of friends and family, Octavia must choose how she make her mark on her time.