Salley Vickers's novel Miss Garnet's Angel came up in Wednesday's post, and that's a book I have read and have the urge to re-read, but it reminded me that Salley has a new book out soon. The Cleaner of Chartres "is a compelling story of darkness and light; of traumatic loss and second chances. Told with a sparkling wit and beguiling charm, but infused throughout with deeper truths, it speaks of the power of love and mercy to transform the tragedies of the past." It features Agnès Morel, a mysterious woman who is to be found cleaning the cathedral of Chartres. "Everyone she encounters would surely agree that she has touched their lives in subtly transformative ways, even though they couldn't quite say how. But with a chance meeting in the cathedral one day, the spectre of Agnès's past returns, provoking malicious speculation from the prejudiced Madame Beck and her gossipy companion Madame Picot. As the rumours grow more ugly, Agnès is forced to confront her history, and the mystery of her origins finally unfolds."
I heard Salley Vickers talk at last year's Edinburgh International Book Festival - she is as stimulating as she is eloquent.
I don't know whether there are any Cornflower Books readers in the Isle of Man (where I was born and grew up) - and if we do have any, please shout - but as a 'long-exiled' Manxie I'm very glad to know that the island is about to have its first literary festival. From 27th. to 30th. September there will be all manner of events for readers and writers, adults and children, at venues across what is a very beautiful, special place. Well done to John Quirk and his team for getting it all up and running, and I hope it will be a great success.
Here's another event that should be very much worth attending: Ruth Rendell and P.D. James in conversation at London's Central School of Speech and Drama on Friday, 5th. October. In aid of the charity Little Hearts Matter, those two redoubtable ladies will be giving "a personal insight into their writing, how they research their stories and the portrayal of their characters on film and TV". There will be a book signing and a chance to meet the authors and put questions to them, and it promises to be a delightful evening in support of a very good cause.