On Friday I said a little about our tea at Bloomsbury, and I put the spotlight on William Boyd, who kindly popped in to see us, and his new novel Waiting for Sunrise, but we also had the chance to meet Suzanne Joinson and Kate Summerscale who were there to tell us about their forthcoming books, and after hearing them speak we are all now eagerly anticipating reading both titles.
Suzanne will be making her debut with A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar, a two-stranded novel set in 1923, when two sisters head for Kashgar on the Silk Road to establish a mission, and in present-day London when a young Yemeni refugee befriends Frieda, a woman "adrift in her own life": "A secret notebook. An unlikely inheritance. A collision of worlds. Prepare to be swept off your feet." I can't wait to read this!
If you visit her blog you can see some pictures of Suzanne herself and several Bloomsbury ladies all dressed up and heading off on their bicycles to deliver bound proofs of the novel across London - an inspired idea, I think - and speaking of the proof, that cover (which will be slightly different on the finished copies) is absolutely beautiful and so eye-catching.
Having read and greatly enjoyed The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: or the Murder at Road Hill House (there's a post on it here), it was a particular pleasure to hear from its author Kate Summerscale about her new book Mrs Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady. Non-fiction again, this story begins on a winter's evening in 1850 at a house in Edinburgh (a mere stone's throw from my home) where Isabella Robinson is attending a party given by the vivacious hostess Lady Drysdale. At the elegant gathering Mrs. Robinson is introduced to Lady Drysdale's son-in-law Edward Lane, a medical student ten years her junior. He was "fascinating' - so she told her diary later - and thus began her downfall, for her ensuing infatuation with him was to have terrible consequences.
A true story of romance, infidelity, insanity and Victorian mores (not to mention some 'local interest'), this sounds like another tour de force from the highly accomplished Kate Summerscale.
One more thing to mention about our memorable day last week and that is the Bloomsbury Institute and Salon and its series of lectures, author events, interviews and discussions held at their beautiful London premises and open to the general public. Had I been able to stay on for the evening I'd have gone to hear Susannah Clapp in conversation with Sir Christopher Frayling about Angela Carter and her book A Card from Angela Carter which I'll talk about soon, but if you're in the area you may like to click here for details of the programme for the next few weeks.
Once again, my thanks to our hosts for a simply wonderful afternoon - I was in my element!