The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby: After Iris was publihsed in the UK by Faber & Faber on July 4th and to celebrate I have a fantastic book-themed guest post from author Natasha Farrant. Here's what the book is about:
Bluebell Gadsby is 13 but that's the least of her problems. Both her parents seem more interested in their careers than the family, leaving Blue and her three siblings as well as their three pet rats (who may or may not be pregnant), in the care of Zoran the au pair. The enigmatic Joss moves in next door and Blue thinks she might be falling in love, until he takes out her older sister Flora instead (who, incidentally, is trying to make a statement by dying her hair bright pink but no one takes the blindest bit of notice). Blue thinks and feels very deeply about life but can't really talk to anyone about it, because no one in the Gadsby family wants to address the real problem - that Blue's twin sister, Iris, died a year ago, and they are all just trying to hide their grief in busyness... So Blue turns to her diary and her unique way of seeing the world through her camcorder to express herself. A tender, funny, smart and ultimately heartwarming story.
Thanks to Natasha for this great post!
My ME shelf!
This is where I keep file copies of all my books. On the far right is a book I wrote for a French publisher, a child’s guide to Britain – fully illustrated (not by me!) with lots of pop out facts about Britain and a sweet school story about a boy and a girl and little Jack Russell! Then there are my two adult novels, which I wrote ages ago before I started on my true love, children’s books. Lots of copies of the paperback of my last book, The Things We Did For Love – I gave everyone I know copies of the hardback, but I still dish out the paperback for people’s birthdays. Then lovely, lovely AFTER IRIS, both the UK glittery paperback and the gorgeous US hardback. What you can’t see are the piles of AFTER IRIS on the floor under the shelf! I’m waiting for finished copies of other foreign editions to complete the collection.
Lily’s (mostly) French shelf
This is a very messy shelf in my daughter’s bedroom, but I love what it represents. I am half French, and I speak French to my daughters. I’m always trying to encourage them to read in French, but they keep saying that “there are no good French books”! This is obviously not true!!!!! However, I do subscribe to French ELLE, and the girls love it. Here you can see the back issues Lily has stacked up on her shelf, next to her very depleted collection of Asterix (in French). She reads Asterix over and over, and no wonder. Those books still make me laugh out loud every time I read them. Most of her collection is on the floor by her bed.
The travel shelf
Actually, we have a lot of these. I like to think that as a family we are very good at holidays. We all love travelling, and we love going a bit off the beaten track when we travel, so we need good guide books. Here is a selection of the places we have been too. We are going back to Costa Rica this summer as a family, twenty years after my husband and I went there on our honeymoon! The first time round, we stopped over in Miami. This time, we’re coming back via New York. To say I’m excited is the understatement of the year…
The Living Room Shelves
These deserve capital letters because The Living Room Shelves were a Big Project involving a Lot of Mess – they cover a whole wall, with the double doors to the kitchen in the middle. You will see that they house not only much loved books but also my husband’s treasured whisky collection, DVDs, photographs and what I like to call “pretty things”. This wall speaks to us of all the good things in life, including the kitchen where I love to cook and the pretty garden which my friend and office-sharer Claire designed for us. The books: the beautiful hardbacks of French classics inherited from my grandparents; poetry; old paperbacks of French and Spanish novels from university; lots and lots of contemporary fiction – John Irving, Rachel Joyce, Zadie Smith, Robert Harris, Elizabeth Howard, Sally Beauman, Julian Barnes, Sebastian Faulks…
My bedside table
I always have a pile of books next to my bed, which are a combination of books I want to read, have just read, and feel I really should read… At the moment, I’m reading a lot of classics. I read a lot of contemporary fiction for my job in children’s publishing, and classics give me a complete break from work and from my own writing. At the bottom of the pile is the Bible, which has had so much influence on shaping not just Western thinking but also the way we use language (this is one of the “really should read” books…). War and Peace, my favourite, so always by my side. This is the copy my grandmother was reading when she died last summer, so particularly treasured. Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea ¬–hmm, another “should read”. PG Wodehouse because I just love PG Wodehouse. He is my comfort read and consolation and reward. Phil Earle’s brilliant Saving Daisy, which I was reading for research for my new book and stayed up till the middle of the night reading, as I do with all of Phil’s books because he is just such a compelling writer. And My Latest Project, Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past – a 4,500 page French classic. Slow going but so so beautiful, and definitely different from the day job! There is also a copy of Persephone Press’s edition of Muriel Spark’s A Far Cry From Kensington – simply because it looks so pretty.