I’m so far behind with my reportage of recent Salon events it'll be
Christmas soon, so I must catch up before we gather this evening for our
theme of 'Wish You Were Here / Glad You're Not Here'. It seemed
quite apt and catchy for the holiday season and wide open to
multifarious bookish interpretations, so I can't wait to see the
Mine's a secret because some of the salonistas read this and it completely kills my flourish and display moment...oh yes, we saw that on your blog.
So, July saw a gathering with a difference because we had a Guest Author visiting.
Except first we had to do a quick whizz round with our books, because to go to the Endsleigh Salon without a book is a sin, so we each took along a Great Read and had sixty seconds to sell it, thus achieving in half an hour or so what usually takes us three or more.
Here's the list and I didn't write my own choice down, so now I can't for the life of me remember what my highly memorable Great Read was, might have been The Fall by Simon Mawer, if not it should have been.
As you can see I have some catching up to do, some great new reading for me here.
When Will There Be Good News - Kate Atkinson
The Behaviour of Moths - Poppy Adams
The Long Winded Lady - Maeve Brennan
The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid
An Expert in Murder - Nicola Upson
I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
Have the Men Had Enough - Margaret Forster
Into Danger - Kate Adie
The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennet
The Reader - Bernard Schlink
Sophie's Secret - Suzanna Kearsley
Diary of a Provincial Lady - E.M.Delafield
Easy Silence - Angela Huth
The Rapture - Liz Jensen
The Tortoise and The Hare - Elizabeth Jenkins
to our first ever Guest Author and what a wonderful evening we had with
Amanda Craig, author and children's literature reviewer for The Times,
who also contributed those last two book suggestions.
We talked in depth about Hearts and Minds with Amanda, about life in London versus life in Devon about the characters, the plotting and the actual writing of the book and we learnt a huge amount about the sheer grit and determination that went into completing this novel.
Then we moved onto the literary world at large, the review pages and the state of literary criticism and reviewing today, what we look for and expect to find in book reviews, how long does a review take to write, what might make us want to read the book, how exactly are the reviews commissioned and written, why we read them, whose opinions can we trust, what we'd like to see more of, what disappoints us, even more to the point who disappoints us as readers and book buyers and consumers.
At this point I'm sorry to disappoint but I can report no more, not a word because we all took the pledge of secrecy and confidentiality, no names, no pack drill but we know a whole lot more about it all...oh yes all of it, everything and our thanks to Amanda for being so honest with us.
Assuming the grown-up responsibility for the bouquet of flowers for the Guest Author, I had decided that this was Tuesday and they'd likely be wilting by Thursday, so had taken a unilateral decision to blue-sky think the gift to its limits of originality and we sent Amanda home with a pair of Tamar Valley apple trees from the neighbouring Endsleigh Gardens Nursery instead.
Now I hadn't really thought beyond what an original idea it was, so the logistics, sensible things like getting them in a little saloon car, had by-passed me in my enthusiasm for the task. We'd delivered them to the hotel earlier in the day in the back of the Land Rover and truly the warning signs were there as they hung off the back and out of the sides, but that night, in a howling gale (the one that did for the Gaze-Bo) pouring rain and pitch darkness, it was indeed confirmed that they would not be fitting in the back of my Fiesta in a hurry either.
Thankfully the night porter at the hotel baby sat them until we sorted it all out the next day and I gather they are now planted in Amanda's beautiful Devon garden as a permanent reminder of an evening in the Salon. We hope as she crunches into those succulent apples in years to come she will forever recall what a pleasant and very pleasurable book-loving evening we all spent together.
So tonight's theme, Wish You Were Here / Glad You're Not Here, coming up - September - Africa, October - Scandal and more great evenings next year. I'm really looking forward to Plague & Pestilence and Back to the Land plus of course I'm already making headway with October 2010 The Book You Should Read Before You Die (how goes it Team Ulysses, Base Camp Two this Sunday, I'm bivouacked and just settling in)
But what on earth would you all take along for any of those themes?