It's Friday, time for a blether, so charge your tea and coffee cups and draw your chairs in around our virtual kitchen table here - I can offer you a fine maple/pecan biscuit, too, if you feel like a little indulgence - and let's have a chat about bookish bits and pieces.
For starters, what's everyone reading? I'm in the home straight of Jennifer McVeigh's The Fever Tree and I'm loving it - 1880s South Africa, Frances Irvine, destitute after her father's sudden death, travels from Britain to marry a doctor she barely knows, but en route she meets the charismatic William Westbrook and ...well, let's just say it's a big 'hit' with me. How about you, any recent hits or, conversely, books which missed the mark?
In yesterday's book news was the announcement that Sebastian Faulks is to be writing a Jeeves and Wooster novel, and this at the invitation of the Wodehouse estate. Comment so far is sceptical - no-one can emulate the master, it is felt. Mr. C. (a great Conan Doyle fan) tells me that Anthony Horowitz's Sherlock Holmes novel The House of Silk is excellent and a worthy 'tribute' piece, but as a Wodehouse aficionado he thinks it's folly to try to emulate the man from whose pen every word was gold. Any thoughts on this sort of 'book in the style of X'?
I often flag up author events here because I'm always fascinated to see the person behind the book, as it were, and to find out about the inspiration for a piece, working practices and so on. What I have far less time for is hearing writers read their own work, and that's partly because few, in my experience, read well, and even if they do, that's the bit I can do for myself so I'd much rather they talked than read. On this subject I'll point London readers towards an event at the V&A* next Friday at which Rose Tremain will be talking about her latest book Merivel and discussing "the challenges of writing fiction that includes real historical figures and settings". If you can't get to that you can always listen to her in conversation with her husband, the biographer Richard Holmes, but what's your taste in things authorial - do you love to see your favourite writers in the flesh, or is the book the thing for you and is your interest in the person minimal?
Here's a lovely thing: Hilary Mantel as mentor. Have you read Katie Ward's Girl Reading (as you'll see from that article, HM was instrumental in the book's being published)? I have not, though it's been on my wish list since it came out, but how nice to see that a writer of such stature takes time to help someone at the outset of their career.
That's enough from me to be going on with, but please give us your thoughts on these or any other book-related topics and I'll keep the kettle on the hob.
*Edited to add: see Ann's comment and my reply below for information about the forthcoming Tracy Chevalier and Edmund de Waal event at the V&A.