by Charlotte Sabin
Photo credit: Dan Hall
As the bright morning sun rose high in a cloudless sky over St. Endellion, some adventurous authors set out to explore the Cornish coast down at Polzeath. Luckily, we managed to tempt them back to the festival for the mornings events, which kicked off with Alison Mercer’s Handling Romance workshop and Ella Berthoud’s Bibliotherapy sessions.
Alison’s workshop covered the hero’s journey in fiction and examined in detail what it is that we expect from a love story. Our reporter Lizzie went along to the workshop to test her own skills at writing romance – find out how she got on here. Over in the marquee, Miranda Seymour captivated her audience with details from her book Noble Endeavours, which explores the complex relationship between England and Germany, condensing 300 years of history into one richly detailed hour. Katie offers a great review of Miranda’s talk here.
Philip Marsden took to the floor at 12.30, in conversation with John Lanchester. Philip, who recently announced his next book, The Summer Isles, to be published by Granta, lead his audience on a journey by foot through the landscape of the West. Our reporter Matt sat down for a chat with Philip after his talk to discuss the relationship he has with the landscapes of his work, take a look here.
Meg Lamond entertained an excited group of young readers in the Rectory Sitting Room with her creative workshop on animals crafts, the results of which were very impressive. One very satisfied customer sat in the marquee later in the day with her clay model in open palm, looking very pleased with herself. Christopher William Hill followed, with his final event of the weekend, sharing stories from his Tales From Schwartzgarten series.
Neel Mukherjee discussed his second novel, The Lives of Others, which was shortlisted for both Booker and Costa prizes, with Patricia Duncker in the marquee after lunch.
Emily and Katie both had the chance to have their own bespoke bibliotherapy sessions with Ella Berthoud, both returning to the green room with detailed prescriptions in the form of fantastic reading lists. Over in the marquee, John Lanchester and Philip Marsden swapped seats and roles and money became the main topic of conversation. John’s How to Speak Money, published earlier this year, details the language of finance and economics. Illuminating and entertaining and infuriating in equal measure, this discussion about bankers and the bizarre world of the financial elite had its audience captivated from start to finish.
Julia Copus’ poetry session was a wonderful way to round off the weekend’s workshops in the Stone Barn, following her fascinating series of events, and Victoria Lamond’s Landybooks took pride of place in the Sitting Room. Our marvellous host and festival founder Patrick Gale was interviewed by Alison Mercer in the finale of the marquee events. Patrick explored the extensive research and writing process that was involved in his latest novel A Place Called Winter, entertaining the crowd with stories of partly true, partly fictitious protagonist Harry – inspired by a true family mystery.
As the sun set, the weekend’s festivities drew to a close. Satisfied festival-goers took a last look at the silhouette St. Endellion church, backlit by moonlight and the heavy set clouds of the October night sky, before retreating to their warm homes. What a wonderful weekend for authors and audience alike.
Many thanks to everyone who has made this another unforgettable North Cornwall Book Festival.