New affiliate: Blackwell’s

blackwells_logo_pp

I am pleased to announce that I am now part of the affiliate programme for Blackwell’s!

Blackwell’s are one of my favourite bookshops and the Oxford branch (just up the road from me) is an institution. The downstairs section, know as the Norrington Room, is the largest single room selling books in the world (!) and is also often the venue for their amazing in store events. They also organise events that are held around the city. Two of the best I have been to were ‘An Evening With’ type things with two of my favourite authors – Sarah Waters and Donna Tartt. Both events were held in the beautiful Divinity School, which is next to the Bodleian LIbrary, and is part of Oxford University.

I’ve added the Blacwell’s logo to the right hand side of the site (just scroll down a bit) so you can click through and browse some lovely books! I’ll also add a link to buy books at Blackwell’s at the end of reviews, along with Wordery and Foyles.

Happy reading!

An Evening with Sarah Waters at the Bodleian

Sarah Waters’ new novel, The Paying Guests, came out last week on 28th August, and of course it was amazing. I was very lucky to be sent an early copy, and also that I managed to nab a ticket to the event held last night (2nd Sept) in Oxford. Sarah Waters was in conversation with Viv Groskop at The Divinity School in the Bodleian Library. I saw Donna Tartt there in October (how could I ever forget THAT?) and it is such a lovely venue. It is not only beautiful, but atmospheric and really cool, being the first teaching room ever built at the University of Oxford (in the 1400s!). It looks like this:

image_1

And the event itself was just as lovely. I made notes like a nerd, and I’m actually glad I did as it’s helped me to remember all the things Sarah talked about. It was rather a lot really, and I can’t talk about it all here, but I will mention some of the absolute best things. Yes, in bullet points.

  • Sarah’s “kernel” moment when plotting was the question of what would happen if a wife’s affair was with a woman rather than a man. She had been looking at real life crimes of the early twentieth century that were caused by affairs, and she decided to mix things up. And you can’t have a Sarah Waters book without lesbians! (except for The Little Stranger – though someone there might have been a secret lesbian)
  • It was crucial that Frances and Lillian really love each other for the story to have depth and, I think, to veer away from sensationalism.
  • Her fondness for Frances, and the fact that she, in some ways, belongs to the feminism of the suffragette era – but she is also ahead of her time with her defiance and bravery. This is demonstrated very well through her differences with her mother, and also with Lillian in some ways.
  • Class is always a very good way of adding complexity to a historical setting. There were a lot of class shifts in the 1920s and it is a big issue in the novel. Frances was of the last generation of daughters that were expected to stay at home and help (Sarah talked about Vera Brittain giving up her degree to come home and help her parents with housework!), and Lillian is also very tied to her home despite being married.
  • The choice of setting. Sarah spoke about how her novels have grown out of each other, and that the 20s was a good halfway point between her Victorian novels and those set in the 1940s – this also meant that in some ways The Paying Guests has a past and a future in the Sarah Waters universe, which I really like.
  • Really, the novel is about what happens when ordinary lives are interrupted by passion. In my review I spoke about how the characters are ordinary people made extraordinary, so it was great to hear this! It’s something that Sarah Waters works with to great effect in a lot of her work (with passion, but also tragedy and drama).

I could waffle for hours about how brilliant Sarah Waters is. She is one of the most perceptive and intelligent writers I know, and is very down to earth and likeable. I could have listened to her for a lot longer.

image_6

A huge thank you to Blackwell’s and Virago, as well as Sarah Waters and Viv Groskop, for such a fantastic evening.

 

A New Life

If you know me personally or perhaps if you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that for a long time I was looking for a full time job.

Since graduating from university in 2011 I have completed about a billion internships, plus a few temp jobs and months of unemployment, which I can tell you was seriously crap. I found it incredibly frustrating and difficult to be working hard and getting almost nothing for it; most internships only pay expenses, and that isn’t much.

I was lucky enough to be able to live at home and commute into central London, so I did appreciate the positives of my situation. I gained some very valuable experience doing internships, and learned a lot about the publishing industry, as well as PR and marketing techniques.

My boyfriend, whom I met at university, has had much more steady employment than me and for about a month now has had a really good full time job. I had been applying for jobs every single day and scouring the internet for anything that might suit me. It was truly, truly exhausting, and the rejections and unsuccessful interviews were depressing and disheartening.

A few weeks ago we considered moving somewhere other than central London, which we had preferred before, and a visit to Oxford made our minds up. I tentatively applied for a handful of jobs in Oxford, and scored an interview at Osprey Publishing.

Then this week I got a phone call… and the job is mine! I was over the moon and overwhelmed. There may have been a tear shed! We had already been looking at flats, and today my mum and I did some viewings, reporting back to my boyfriend as he was at work, and secured a flat. Unbelievable isn’t it?

My life has changed a lot this week. From next week, when I start my new job (even saying that sounds strange and amazing), it will change even more. We’re moving in less than a month. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

My day-to-day existence will change beyond recognition; I won’t be able to blog quite as often, maybe once a week, but I won’t neglect These Little Words. It has been a saving grace in my time struggling to get a job, and I still love it as much as ever. I don’t intend on giving it up!

I wonder if my changed circumstances will effect my taste in reading?