Month: August 2016

Books – The Many by Wyl Menmuir

One success of the Man Booker longlist this year has been to throw up a few random choices, ignoring the established and safe choices for some intriguing titles. The Many is the debut novel (novella? at 141 pages this makes a welcome break from the lengthier tomes of last year’s list) from Wyl Menmuir, published by Salt, an independent publisher. Set in an isolated … Read More Books – The Many by Wyl Menmuir

The Seamstress – Part Four

Kitty was a determined woman. It was less than an hour later when she poked her head in at Nora’s room, smiling broadly. ‘I just gave Ned a piece of my mind regarding his less than chivalrous behaviour last night. He apologises profusely and promises to do everything in his power to bring Sean to the King’s tonight.’ ‘But what am I to say … Read More The Seamstress – Part Four

Books- The Book of Night Women by Marlon James

Most people know Marlon James for A Brief History of Seven Killings, his Man Booker prize winning novel. When he won last year, several people began to tweet about his previous book, The Book of Night Women, saying that they thought it equally as good, if not better. Having now read it, I feel compelled to agree. Born into bondage in the corrupted paradise … Read More Books- The Book of Night Women by Marlon James

Just Write/Writing Magazine party

Not long ago I wrote a piece about writing competitions and so I thought it only fitting to share my first shortlisting, for the 2016 Just Write Creative Writing competition, run in association with Writing Magazine and John Murray Press. A big draw for me when deciding to enter this competition was the prize – six shortlisted authors were to be invited to a … Read More Just Write/Writing Magazine party

The Seamstress – Part Three

Nora woke at dawn the next day, bright sunshine through the curtain-less windows prodding her eyes open as the lamplighters did their rounds, undoing their work of the night before. She tossed and turned for a little while before giving in to the day and rising from the narrow bed that she had slept alone in for almost a year, ever since arriving at … Read More The Seamstress – Part Three

Books – Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

For five years this book has sat on my bookshelf, at three different addresses. For some reason award winning books tend to sit longer in my TBR pile than any other (Wolf Hall is staring at me, unread, at this very moment). I’m not sure of the reason; perhaps it’s because there’s less of the unexpected. These books have already received validation from more … Read More Books – Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Sarah Forbes Bonetta, an African princess in Victorian England

Few people know that Queen Victoria had a black goddaughter, named Victoria after her patron. The mother of this girl had been under the protection of the queen since arriving in England as a young child. Her name was Sarah Forbes Bonetta. Sarah’s story begins with tragedy. Born into a royal family in West Africa, as a five year old child she was orphaned, her parents … Read More Sarah Forbes Bonetta, an African princess in Victorian England

The Seamstress – Part Two

The Seamstress – Part One It was after midnight when the gaggle of actors, crew and dancers made their way down to the King’s Head on Union Street. Nora walked quietly at the back, listening to the salacious gossip of the girls ahead of her. Their behaviour no longer shocked her but the casual way they described loudly their exploits with the various gentlemen who … Read More The Seamstress – Part Two

Books – The Sellout by Paul Beatty

I hadn’t heard of this book until it was longlisted for this years Man Booker Prize, and was instantly intrigued. Satire is tricky to pull off. Writing a novel that is not raises laughs but important questions, that points the finger without causing (too much) offense, is a difficult business. Paul Beatty has managed all this in The Sellout. Born in the ‘agrarian ghetto’ of Dickens … Read More Books – The Sellout by Paul Beatty

Thomas Birch Freeman – a black Christian missionary

Usually when we think of the Christian missionaries of the nineteenth century, we think of white men, sometimes with their wives, going out to Africa to save the natives. Thomas Birch Freeman (1809-1890) was different: he was black. Freeman was born in Hampshire in 1809, his father black, thought to be a freed slave, his mother white. In his younger days Freeman worked as … Read More Thomas Birch Freeman – a black Christian missionary

The Seamstress – Part One

  The push and pull, a glint of silver as the needle flashed its way along a neat hem, this was the rhythm that Nora Barker’s soul danced to each and every day. It was her vocation, though that wasn’t a word that she would have used. To her, sewing was just in her blood. Not any old sewing mind you; Nora was an … Read More The Seamstress – Part One

Fanny Eaton – the forgotten Pre-Raphaelite model

You may not have heard of Fanny Eaton but, if you are an admirer of the works of the Pre-Raphaelites, you may have seen her without realising. She is the forgotten model, though she was used by many artists of the time and admired by them. Fanny Eaton was born in Jamaica in 1835. Her mother, Matilda Foster, came to London at some point … Read More Fanny Eaton – the forgotten Pre-Raphaelite model