I adore Tracy Rees’s writing as you’ll see in my reviews of her previous books. Amy Snow was one of the first books I ever reviewed on Linda’s Book Bag here. I reviewed Florence Grace here and had a wonderful guest post from Tracy about the appeal of the C19th that you can read here. Florence Grace was one of my Books of the Year and you’ll see it featured here. I also reviewed Tracy’s The Hourglass here.
Having met Tracy on a few occasions I have found her to be as wonderful as her writing so I’m thrilled to welcome her back to the blog today to celebrate her latest book Darling Blue. Tracy has written a smashing post all about Richmond. If you’re unfamiliar with Tracy’s writing, this post will give you a perfect flavour of how good it is.
Darling Blue is published today by Quercus and is available for purchase through the links here.
Blue lives a charmed life. From her family’s townhouse in Richmond, she lives a life of luxury and couldn’t want for anything – well, on the surface at least.
Then on the night of her twenty-first birthday her father makes a startling toast: he will give his daughter’s hand to whichever man can capture her heart best in the form of a love letter. But Blue has other ideas and, unwilling to play at her father’s bewildering games, she sets out on her own path to find her own destiny…
My Memories of Richmond
A Guest Post by Tracy Rees
I’ll always remember the day I fell in love with Richmond. I was a publishing junior, out for a day work-shadowing a sales rep. While we talked to the manager of Waterstone’s (still there on the corner of Red Lion Street, still one of my favourite bookshops) Jerry Hall came in, looking ethereal in lavender, looking for Tennessee Williams (or his plays at any rate). I thought that was just perfect.
Later, heading home, we drove up Richmond Hill and my companion pointed out various celebrity homes among the beautiful townhouses on the left. But what drew my gaze and captured my heart was the view to the right, out over Petersham meadows. It’s the view that Blue and Barnaby enjoy together in Darling Blue when they have a drink in the Roebuck. To quote from my own book… “The view certainly was spectacular: an expanse of meadows far below; the bow and bend of the silver river, thick at the edges with willow and oak.” I saw it and I knew I had to live there. In fact, with my slightly prescient tendencies, I knew I would live there. (I was living in Croydon at the time – enough said.)
I was about 23 when I moved to Richmond but I’ll always think of it as the place I grew up. While I was there, my then-partner and I broke up. The ordered life I’d known fell away and I started creating my life, rather than simply ticking along. I conquered my fear of spiders. I went to work in a cocktail bar and earned the right to hum The Human League whenever I want. I learned for the first time that work didn’t have to be sitting in an office wearing a suit but could be sociable and fun (“Flirting for a living” my boss called it! I was ok with that.) I remember polishing the beer taps on quiet days and gazing out at the willow trees dreaming over the tranquil green water. I would dream and feel tranquil too. I remember hosing down the heavy rubber bar mats in the cellar in the small hours, feeling oddly content. I remember countless nights out dancing, volunteering in a soup kitchen, learning to cook Thai food. I started travelling, studying psychology and making so many friends.
I used to love walking along the river, in all seasons (that’s why Darling Blue is structured in five parts – seasons – summer through to the following summer). I used to heron-spot religiously. I’d see them fishing or flying or standing on one leg thinking deep thoughts. One day a heron lifted into the air from the path right in front of me; I saw those huge wings spreading at close quarters, looked right into its eye, felt the brush of air and the power of its flight. I couldn’t have been more awed if I’d seen an angel.
Another bird memory: seeing a swan walking into a pub! Yes, really. The men who were leaving just then stood aside to let it pass. They were actually trying not to get pecked but it looked for all the world as though they were saying, “after you Sir”.
I remember arriving back at the tube station after a night out in London and stumbling into a midnight fashion shoot in the middle of the street. The topless male model was spotlit, the photographer was shooting and the makeup girls were poised with brushes… that’s not something you see every day.
I have about a billion memories of Richmond. Some are hilarious, some profound and some are just beautiful snapshots in my mind. They’re all precious, and I hope that the great love I feel for that place has spilled onto the pages of Darling Blue.
(Wonderful memories Tracy. I’m looking forward to seeing how they weave into Darling Blue.)
About Tracy Rees
Born in Wales, Tracy Rees has been called “the most outstanding new voice in historical fiction” by Lucinda Riley and her books are paperback and kindle bestsellers. She was the winner of the Richard and Judy ‘Search for a Bestseller’ Competition. A Cambridge graduate, she had a successful eight-year career in nonfiction publishing and a second career practising and teaching humanistic counselling before becoming a writer.
You can follow Tracy on Twitter @AuthorTracyRees.
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