May 17, 2014

Friday Fest

It’s so good to have The Hub, our inflatable structure on the Market Terrace, back again.

I saw six speakers at The Hub yesterday and Alex has written in detail about Hilary and Esther's enlightening talks so, in the interests of brevity, here are the some of the things that struck me most:

Hilary Boyd: I totally related to the feeling of ‘how did I get to be this age?’ and can imagine this will only intensify as the years pass. Hilary spoke about the two extremes of ageing women - the Botoxed celebrity vs the grey, be-cardiganed granny – and how, somewhere in between, most are trying to find a way to be older women in a new way, perhaps reinventing themselves along the way. It’s also interesting how sales of e-books of Thursdays in the Park (reviewed earlier on this blog) suddenly took off about a year after it was published. You can’t help sharing Hilary’s delight in her well-deserved success.

Esther Freud: Alex has written about the complex themes of Esther’s novel, due to be published in September, Mr Mac and Me. I loved her honesty about the writing process and how it’s a mixture of pleasure and pain. Apart from her own novels, I came away with a must-read tip: Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys. It’s always great to hear about those novels that have inspired writers. As Esther said, ‘It’s an emotional plot, and I wanted to keep people page-turning without a murder.’

Tim Dowling: hilarious! Tim, columnist in the Weekend Guardian, has written How to be a Husband – not a self-help book. I enjoyed The Giles Wareing Haters’ Club with its observational humour about marriage and domestic life, and I think I’m going to enjoy his new novel even more. Despite his self-deprecating humour, Tim did have some useful tips which clearly struck a chord with the sell-out crowd. For example, a healthy sex life has more to do with unloading the dishwasher without being asked than you might realise. Afterwards, I joined the queue of women buying a copy of the book and having it dedicated to their husband.

[caption id="attachment_369" align="alignright" width="300"] Ella Berthoud at The Hub[/caption]

Ella Berthoud: Ella’s back for a third LitFest, with a funky new hair colour. She’s now not ‘only’ an artist and bibliotherapist, but a published author too. The Novel Cure, written with her friend Susan Elderkin, is a book to keep in your medicine cabinet, because reading can cure a host of ailments, didn’t you know? Having received Ella’s reading prescriptions before, I can thoroughly recommend her suggestions and am thrilled to have a book full of them. There are still some slots available for bibliotherapy, and Ella will be doing a public session today at 11am with John Gollop who, judging by the bulging book bag he left with this evening, is an avid reader!

Luke Wright: Luke, and alter-ego Fat Dandy (although he is very slim), was a revelation. I look forward to hearing how he was received at the Fermain Tavern. Not only are his poems funny and intelligent, but he’s an amazing performer too. Subjects range from his home turf of Bungay to one-way systems, politics and, touchingly, his children.

Stephen May: I loved Life! Death! Prizes! so was pleased that Stephen talked about that, as well as reading from it. His new novel is Wake Up Happy Every Day, which isn’t a self-help book either. Stephen kept the audience captivated, despite the fact that it was getting pretty chilly in The Hub by then. A word of advice: no matter how sunny it is, take an extra layer if you’re going to The Hub.

I hope you're all enjoying the LitFest so far and managing to squeeze in some extra events. Caroline.