Notes from the Henley Literary Festival...
A few years ago an editor friend of mine at Headline Review sent me a copy of My Last Duchess because she thought I would enjoy it. She knew my tastes well: this tale of an American heiress who marries into the English aristocracy was right up my street. It has been described as Henry James without the boring bits. Today I got to meet the author, Daisy Goodwin, who has now written a second book, The Fortune Hunter, about the 19th century Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
|Jojo Moyes is a regular guest at the Literary Festival
In her latest book, The One Plus One, Jojo writes about a single mother Jess who ends up embarking on a road trip with Ed - a man she barely knows - to enter her daughter into a maths Olympiad in Aberdeen. Inevitably love blossoms, although there are of course a few twists in the road.
I couldn't help thinking that my own book, A Sister for Margot, features at least one tricky matriarch, as well as an orphan who loses her mother to a boat accident. Similarly, the mother in Daisy's My Last Duchess cuts an imperious figure (putting it mildly) so why do mothers get a raw deal in fiction?
Daisy revealed that she used her writing to explore a difficult relationship with her own mother. The "discord and tension" that come out of such a dysfunctional relationship often make for a compelling novel. She also pointed out that novelists were prone to writing mothers out of the book so that the main protagonist could develop autonomously as a character.
The One Plus One's refreshing take on motherhood is another winner from an author whose career nearly foundered before she penned the renowned bestseller, Me Before You. With her writing career in the doldrums, Jojo moved to Penguin and has since sold more than three million copies of Me Before You. She told the audience today she knew it was time to make the switch to Penguin when her previous publisher began to serve up cheap biscuits at a meeting. A friend had advised her: always watch the biscuits - when they stop providing them, you know your time is up!
FURTHER READINGThe One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
A single mother sets off on a journey to ensure her quirky and brilliant daughter can study maths at the local private school. On the way, she falls in love with a disgraced software millionaire who is being investigated for insider trading.
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Other 'Notes' from the Henley Literary Festival:
The quiet determination of Doreen Lawrence