I’m always thrilled when an invitation arrives in my inbox to attend a bookish event and was delighted to find myself asked to 4th Estate LIVE – an exclusive showcase of some of 2020’s biggest books. I’d like to thank Liv Mardsen of Harper Collins and 4th Estate Books for inviting me.
It was so good to meet up with other bloggers and bookstagrammers and find out about new books coming in 2020. After a chance to mingle, eat and drink, we were treated to an exclusive reading from The Mirror and the Light, the conclusion to Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy and I came away with a fabulous #TheMirrorandtheLight goody bag stuffed with books.
The Mirror and the Light will be published on 5th March 2020 and is available for pre-order here.
We were then afforded the opportunity to hear four authors speak about their forthcoming books. First to be interviewed was Marina Kemp who spoke so movingly about Nightingale that it is going straight to the top of my TBR.
A moving and masterful novel about sex, death, passion and prejudice in a sleepy village in the south of France
Marguerite Demers is twenty-four when she leaves Paris for the sleepy southern village of Saint-Sulpice, to take up a job as a live-in nurse. Her charge is Jerome Lanvier, once one of the most powerful men in the village, and now dying alone in his large and secluded house, surrounded by rambling gardens. Manipulative and tyrannical, Jerome has scared away all his previous nurses.
It’s not long before the villagers have formed opinions of Marguerite. Brigitte Brochon, pillar of the community and local busybody, finds her arrogant and mysterious and is desperate to find a reason to have her fired. Glamorous outsider Suki Lacourse sees Marguerite as an ally in a sea of small-minded provincialism. Local farmer Henri Brochon, husband of Brigitte, feels concern for her and wants to protect her from the villagers’ intrusive gossip and speculation – but Henri has a secret of his own that would intrigue and disturb his neighbours just as much as the truth about Marguerite, if only they knew …
Set among the lush fields and quiet olive groves of southern France, and written in clear prose of crystalline beauty, Nightingale is a masterful, moving novel about death, sexuality, compassion, prejudice and freedom.
Nightingale is available for pre-order here.
In complete contrast, our next interviewee was the hilarious Raven Smith who had us crying with laughter as he spoke about his Trivial Pursuits.
Raven Smith’s Trivial Pursuits
A hilarious, smart and incredibly singular debut from the ‘unofficial spokesperson of the modern millennial’ (SUNDAY TIMES ‘STYLE’ MAGAZINE) whose exploration of the minutiae of everyday modern life and culture is totally unique and painfully relatable.
From what goes through his head in a yoga class, to being tall, to Theresa May needing to be Queer Eye-d, Smith doesn’t leave any ‘trivial’ stone unturned. He also discusses his single-parent upbringing, his struggles as a lonely teenager and his personal experience of coming out, all with brilliant humour, great tenderness and lingering pathos.
This book is for fans of David Sedaris, Joel Golby, Dolly Alderton and Lena Dunham – as well as making you crack up with laughter – it sears with the sharpest prose and the most intelligent insights. It’s a timely and brilliant debut from an exciting new voice.
Raven Smith’s Trivial Pursuits is available for pre-order here.
We returned to a much more somber subject as Kate Elizabeth Russell spoke about My Dark Vanessa and the amazing (and fortuitous) links she’d found after writing the book.
My Dark Vanessa
An era-defining novel about the relationship between a fifteen-year-old girl and her teacher
ALL HE DID WAS FALL IN LOVE WITH ME AND THE WORLD TURNED HIM INTO A MONSTER
Vanessa Wye was fifteen-years-old when she first had sex with her English teacher.
She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.
Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.
Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.
Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues our age.
My Dark Vanessa is available for pre-order here.
Our final speaker was Bella Mackie whose honest and humorous approach to discussing her mental health and running in her Jog On Journal was completely refreshing.
Jog On Journal
The essential companion to the Sunday Times bestselling Jog On – a funny, practical guide to managing your mental health through exercise.
Bella Mackie isn’t your average coach – she’s much swearier, and she’s never going to give you a nutrition plan or join you on a marathon. But through her inspiring personal story and realistic approach she’s already inspired thousands of men and women to manage their mental health through exercise. In this journal, Bella takes you on a journey from the sofa to the open road, helping you to:
• Gain a new awareness of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression
• Cope with side effects such as panic attacks and intrusive thoughts
• Learn and memorise calming strategies such as breathing exercises
• Build a checklist of everything you need to start running
• Develop a regular running schedule, with realistic targets
• Use exercise to gain confidence and manage mental health problems
Packed with insights from athletes and psychologists and step-by-step achievable goals, The Jog On Journalhas everything you need to get you up and running.
Out next week on November 14th, Jog On Journal is available for pre-order here.
Sadly, with the time at 8.27 and my train home leaving from London Bridge at 8.31 I didn’t have the opportunity to stay and speak with these talented authors directly. Instead I ran – yes really – across to the station and made it to my train on time simply because it was 4 minutes late!
I’d like to thank everyone involved in making this such a brilliant evening. I’m really looking forward to some brilliant reading as a result.