Comment • reviews • Nordic Noir • whimsy
Today we’re joined by Sue Featherstone, who has had a particularly interesting journey in a lifetime working with words. Starting in local newspapers, Sue moved to PR, then internal communications then academia. Together with her friend and writing partner Susan Pape, she wrote two successful journalism text books and the duo have now turned to fiction: A Falling Friend was published last year and a sequel follows this summer. Sue and Susan also produce a fine book blog.
Here are her selections:
‘The blurb on the back of my 1978 Penguin Modern Classic edition of Walter Greenwood’s Love on the Dole describes it as the Cathy Come Home of the 30s. Certainly, it was one of the first novels to paint a disturbingly real picture of what it meant to be poor and unemployed in a Depression era northern industrial town.
‘I first read the novel when Maggie Thatcher was Prime Minister – it had a huge impact. I immediately joined the Labour party and hid the book on the top shelf of my book case because I couldn’t bear to see or read it again.
‘However, with another woman PM in Downing Street, I’ve dusted it down as a reminder that when times are tough the poor and the desperate are hit the hardest.
‘So, please, Mrs May, no hard Brexit.
And another request: it’s my turn to choose next month’s book club read, so don’t tell my friends – but guess what they’ll be reading?
‘My second choice is a book from the final year of my BA English Literature degree. I’ve re-read God’s Bits of Wood, by Sengalese writer Sembene Ousmane, so many times in the last quarter century that my copy of the book is falling apart.
‘Published in 1960, the year Senegal gained independence, the novel follows the lives of the people caught up in the 1947-48 Dakar-to-Niger railway strike.
‘It is a riveting read, although the large cast of characters (around three dozen-or-so), their unfamiliar West African names and the equally unfamiliar colonial French West African setting mean it is not an easy one.
‘Ousmane, a successful film-maker, has an eye for detail that enables the reader to ‘see’ the stories he paints in glorious Technicolor.
‘Finally, and you have my Auntie Agnes to thank for this, The Painted Garden by Noel Streatfeild.
‘Auntie Agnes bought a copy of Streatfeild’s children’s classic Ballet Shoes for my tenth birthday.
‘I fell in love with the heroines, the Fossil sisters, who also feature in The Painted Garden, and, being a bit of an obsessive, read everything else by Streatfeild I could find in the local library.
‘In fact, it was hard to decide which of my favourites to choose – Apple Bough, White Boots, The Growing Summer or The Painted Garden?
‘Actually, I’d put all of them in my secret library because I re-read them regularly.
‘There’s something very nostalgic and comforting about stepping back into the pages of a book you loved as a child.
‘But, if I must pick a favourite, it has to be The Painted Garden because of the curmudgeonly heroine Jane, who knew her own mind and wasn’t afraid to speak it. Oh, how the pre-teen me wished I had her courage…’
Thank you Sue – and Auntie Agnes! – for some intriguing selections.
You can get A Falling Friend from Amazon here…but we have three copies to give away! To enter, follow me on Twitter if you haven’t already and RT the tweet announcing the giveaway. I’ll make a selection on Friday, 21 April. Thank you to Sue for kindly donating the copies.
And, don’t forget to come back next Thursday to find out who’s in…the secret library!