ingredients for a new book

Hello Esteemed readers, all twenty nine of you. (Only kidding, I have a few more these days, thank you lovely readers.)

In July 2015 my new novel, The Photographer’s Wife, will be published in the UK and the US by Bloomsbury. I am unspeakably happy about this. I have been writing this novel for four years or so, and researching parts of it for even longer. In due course I will be putting up additional information about the story and the inspiration behind it, but for now a few photographs which form ingredients for my book.

The Female Contains All Qualities 1937 by Ceri Richards 1903-1971Jerusalem stationimg_1138

At the moment I am editing The Photographer’s Wife, preparing to do a guest slot at the gorgeous Lumb Bank for the Arvon Foundation and devising a writing workshop and outline of a plan for a week-long residency in the Yellow Mountains, Huangshan, China which is happening in September. Busy times for the jobbing writer. Soon, the strange process of a novel emerging from the innermost inners of my mind to be sent out into the world to find readers will begin again. Before all of that, though, this August is a private, pottering, editing and gardening sort of month before the great voyage begins. Which brings to mind Edna O’Brien’s novel, August is a Wicked Month. A book I loved almost all of. The end didn’t work for me, but the rest was sublime.

Recently I have been reading Italian author Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan books. They are tremendous. I advise anyone reading this to go and get a copy immediately. I was lucky enough to get a copy of Book 3, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay*, in advance and I can reveal that it is ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL.

* A title that sums up the central theme to everything I’ve ever written in seven words.

A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar continues to amaze me by being read in diverse and wide ranging parts of the world. I have emails from Brazil, Canada, and many other places and recently I heard that it will be coming out in Japan in December and also in China next year. I feel very lucky.

Onwards and upwards dear readers. 

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ingredients for a novel #6

From Tracey Moffatt’s mesmerising Laudanum:

Laudanam

laudanum two

Hitchcock:
Staircase1

Hotel Fast:
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Hitchcock:
lodger

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The Blue Bird

I’m very proud that my book has been selected to be part of the charity Womankind’s International Women’s Day book group list. Here is the information.

This film appears in my new book. More information about the book later, but for now:

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a gallimaufry down below

It is always such a pleasure to read a thoughtful review of my book. This one at a lovely blog called ‘a gallimaufry’ has made my evening.

Francesca Woodman

Francesca Woodman

“The photographs, especially in Bathes’ response to the child of the Winter Garden Photograph, capture the space of love…..”

London

London

“I was at the door of the hotel, horrified at seeing in the Alameda people go by who seemed to be made of wood. I rushed to the roof of the hotel and wept there, looking at the chained city below my feet, the city it was my duty to liberate. Coming down to Catherine’s room, I begged her to look at my face; I said to her: “Don’t you see that it is the exact representation of the world?” She refused to listen to me and put me out of her room.”
Leonora Carrington, ‘Down Below’

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Here then on the table before us are photographs

Here then on the table before us are photographs. The Spanish Government sends them with with patient pertinacity about twice a week. They are not pleasant photographs to look upon. They are photographs of dead bodies for the most part. This morning’s collection contains the photograph of what might be a man’s body, or a woman’s; it is so mutilated that it might, on the other hand, be the body of a pig. But those certainly are dead children, and that undoubtedly is the section of a house. A bomb as torn open the side; there is still a bird-cage hanging in what was presumably the sitting-room, but the rest of the house looks like nothing so much as a bunch of spillikins* suspended in mid air.

Those photographs are not an argument; they are simply a crude statement of fact addressed to the eye. But the eye is connected with the brain; the brain with the nervous system. That system sends its messages in a flash through every past memory and present feeling. When we look at those photographs some fusion takes place within us; however different the education, the traditions behind us, our sensations are the same, and they are violent.

Three Guineas, Virginia Woolf.

*Spillikins : a child’s game in which a collection of thin pieces of wood is thrown into a heap and players must pull off as many as possible without disturbing the rest, in which case the turn passes to another player.

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ingredients for a novel #5

Kolundia Airport, Jerusalem 1927

Kolundia Airport, Jerusalem 1927

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Biplane over Jerusalem

Francesca Woodman

Francesca Woodman

“But they would never have commanded public attention and persuaded people at all if spirit photography had not been so widely trusted against all its critics, and if children – especially little girls – had not enjoyed special access to wonderlands.” Marina Warner from ‘Phantasmagoria’

Francesca Woodman notebooks

Francesca Woodman notebooks

karimah abbud

“However glorious their past, none of the cities of the coast, from Antioch to Alexandria, can show much man-made physical beauty or unity, as though the desert , the wilderness, were necessary to compress builders’ souls, to crystalise the jewelled facets of Jerusalem and Cairo and Damascus.” – from Soraya Antonius.

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leonora in the kitchen

Hola Esteemed Readers, all thirty one of you,

I’m in the mood to listen to old ladies at the moment. This is is Leonora Carrington who wrote in ‘The Hearing Trumpet':

“I suffer much from the idea that my loneliness might be taken away from me by a lot of mercilessly well meaning people. ”

Her kitchen looks somewhat like mine.

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