Skip to main content

The Secret Scripture not flawed says judge

Writer Lisa Jewell has written quite a passionate piece in The Telegraph in defence of claims that Sebastian Barry's Costa winning novel, The Secret Scripture, was 'flawed' and, in any case, what isn't flawed? That reminds me, yesterday afternoon I was mooching around Highgate and entered a bookshop where the woman who worked in there and a male friend of hers whom she obviously wasn't that close to, and in any case hadn't seen in ages, had popped in with his dog and were chit-chatting politely but with that slight undercurrent of strain. The shop was so quiet that I couldn't help but overhear their entire conversation. After him trying to chat her up, then her tell him that she was already seeing someone now after getting rid of her last feckless boyfriend, and then him quickly backtracking, then her trying to make him feel better for having asked in the first place, and them him resenting her trying to make him feel better for having asked, they quickly too cue from their surroundings and moved onto books! He told her he was writing one. He had, so far, 'done forty pages' which had helped him quie a lot since he was made bankrupt and gave up his 'coking' habit and didn't go out very much now at all anyway, except to see a friend up in Norfolk once a week who had been 'very supportive' and of course, to take his dog out. 'Brilliant...' she replied, her arms crossed. 'Yeah... my agent thinks so...' 'You've got an agent?' woman asks. 'Yeah, she's thinks it's really good...' 'Great...' 'Yeah, it's like an autobiographical novel...' 'Great...' 'Yeah. Did you see what won that prize last night?' 'Oh yeah right, the Whitbreads?' 'The... the what? No, no...' 'Yeah, the Whitbread you mean? Or the other one?' 'Not Whitbread.... COSTA! That's it! Yeah well, the book that won it, Irish. Again.' 'Oh right, what's it about?' 'Some story set in Ireland. Again.' 'Oh right...' 'Yeah... the Irish! Should have gone to the poem.... some poem about... some uprising...' 'Yeah but it's probably just as well it didn't, some of those poems are so obscure... we're lucky if we sell one copy!'
And so on. I didn't buy a book but I did want to shout 'you mean The Secret Scripture - yes. Irish. Again'. Anyway... I hope he gets more done than forty pages and that if his eventual book ever does well then he is better at talking about books with interviewers than he is with bookshop workers who are also not-seen-in-ages-friends. I did buy a book today though. On Amazon. The Outlander, by Gil Adamson. I have to say the feeling I gleaned from the overview reminded me of the novella I wrote last year - 'Tired Waves...' but mine was quite spare and without the dramatic plot that The Outlander seems to have. I bought the hardback simply on the review that appeared in Waterstone's magazine. I know they're not 'proper' reviews in there, as they are all overwhelmingly positive in order to get people simply to buy. Well it worked. Again. But it seems I cannot resist any story about a person running away to the wilderness! Read more here.

Popular posts from this blog

Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

My PhD critical paper

I thought I'd upload the critical element of my PhD thesis. Hopefully, for those who are interested enough to read it, it will make sense despite the references to my creative work, which I can't upload as I'm seeking publication. And besides, at 68,000 words...

I'm also going to tweak section one of this three section critical paper with a view to journal publication because of the academic interest in the claims I make of Mary.

-Dedicated with love and respect to Dr Bruce Lloyd-

And in memory of my parents:
Thomas Valentine and Joan Theresa
Good people who taught me so much more than they realised


The biggest thank-you is due to Norma Clarke, Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University, who supervised this PhD. I never had cause to doubt my initial instincts as Norma proved to be the best mentor I could ever have wished for.

I would also like to acknowledge the generous studentship that I was fortunate to be awarded by Kingston Universi…

Booker Shortlist announced

It's been a while... I know. Dog walking on the Downs, a bit of theatre, a bit of baking, a bit of writing etcetera etcetera. I also managed to read two complete books in the past month, which I was so pleased about. I had not read a whole book for about a year. The first was A Lie About My Father by Scottish poet/writer, John Burnside; a very well written memoir about father and son, but like all memoirs, some unreliability I felt. Poignant and tragic in equal measure. Then my husband returned from Cyprus (too hot for me this time of year, I can barely cope with England!) with Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong. He loved it. And then I read it and also loved it. I had originally picked it up several years ago but didn't get beyond Amiens, where the first section is set, but was really glad I did this time around. Another incredibly well written book in the style of a good Victorian! I felt a bit unsure about bits of Elizabeth, in the later section, but I have never learnt so muc…