Sussex summer reads
Laura Cartledge delves into the bookshelves of Sussex and finds a wealth of local writers.
Flight, by Isabel Ashdown from Chichester
The fourth novel by Isabel Ashdown has been called ‘intelligent, understated and sensitive’ by the Observer.
It is a ‘devastating’ novel which explores the complexities of parenthood, love and friendship as it takes the reader on a quest to solve the mystery of one woman’s decision to disappear.
Wren Irving is the lady in question and when she wins the first ever national lottery draw she doesn’t share the news, or money, with husband Rob.
Instead she ‘quietly packs her bags, kisses her six-month-old daughter Phoebe goodbye, and leaves’.
The story then leaps 20 years ahead and finds Rob has now found happiness with the couple’s oldest friend Laura, while daughter Phoebe is a young woman who has never known any other life.
A mysterious letter brings the past back to haunt them all and it is Laura who decides to track down Wren in a hope to uncover why she walked out all those years ago.
The tale moves between North Cornwall’s beautiful coastline and the leafy suburbs of London and weaves a world of secrets and lies.
Isabel Ashdown was writer in residence at the University of Brighton 2013-14 and currently teaches on the creative writing MA there.
She lives in Chichester with her carpenter husband and two children.
Her first novel, Glasshopper was named in Observer Best Debuts of 2009, Evening Standard Best Books of the Year and won the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition.
Her second novel, Hurry Up and Wait, was listed as one of Amazon’s Customer Favourites for Kindle in 2011. Summer of ’76, her third novel, was published to critical acclaim in 2013.
Flight costs £7.99, published by www.myriadeditions.com
Eastbourne’s Members of Anderida Writers Group.
This Eastbourne group are proving to be success stories in their own rights.
Authors Heather Flood and Liz Wright, both hit the top spot in their respective categories in the Amazon
Top 100 Books List and Heather’s husband Tony also reached the top three in two charts.
Heather has established herself as a popular children’s writer with her tales about mice, hamsters and guinea pigs and it was Mousey Mousey and the Witches’ Revenge which saw itself ranked number one.
While Liz’s latest book ‘Who’s A Chatty Boy, Then’ topped the ‘birds’ category.
It was Tony’s celebrity book ‘My Life With The Stars – Best, Ali and the Panties’ which secured two high places, being listed as second in the section for biographies by journalists and third in ‘arts and photography’.
“This is a great achievement because there are so many excellent books available,” says Tony, the Anderida chairman, “and beating them all in the top 100 book chart is like having a hit record.”
Eastbourne’s accolades don’t end their either with former resident Brigitte Sumner’s ‘Give Him Back His Balls’ named top in personal transformation and number two for relationships.
Meanwhile Langham Hotel owner Neil Kirby, along with Paul James, were top in the best sellers list for business with ‘Celebrity Hotel.’
A joint celebration was in order following a top ten placing by Twists in the Tales which boasts 16 short stories by local writers Francis Wait, Brian Jones, Christine Dudley, Heather and Tony Flood, Elizabeth Gibbs, Val Tinney, Barbara Fisher and Ernie Richardson – all are members of Alice Croft House Over 50s writing group.
“These successes prove what great writing talent there is in Eastbourne,” enthuses Heather Flood, whose Giant Sticker Monster was also a high riser in the children’s sword and sorcery category.
All of the books are available from Amazon. Aspiring authors can join Anderida Writers by contacting Tony Flood on 01323 471726
Little Bell and the Moon, by Giles Paley-Phillips from Seaford
Little Bell loves the Moon and the Moon loves Little Bell. Every night the Moon takes Little Bell’s hand and together they cross the oceans and the mountains on their adventures. Little Bell grows old and frail but one last flight with the Moon makes something very special happen to Little Bell.
A wonderful rhyming tale of a little girl who grows up, gets old and turns into a bright star in the sky.
This story touches upon a subject rarely dealt with in children’s picture books in the most beautiful and positive way imaginable.
£10.99, published by fatfoxbooks.com
Never marry a politician, by Sarah Waights from Arundel
Emily tried hard to be a good wife to Ralph, a fiercely ambitious politician but, in doing so, has betrayed her heart and her principles.
Once she was a promising journalist, but now reluctant domestic goddess is a more accurate description.
When unexpected events lead to Ralph being in the running for the role of Prime Minister, Emily finds maintaining the façade of a picture-perfect family life an increasing struggle – especially when her romantic past comes back to haunt her in the form of tough-talking journalist Matt Morley.
Matt is highly skilled at ‘digging the dirt’ and, sure enough, Ralph has a sordid secret that is soon uncovered.
In the aftermath of the discovery, will Emily find the courage to be true to herself, or will she remain stuck in the world of PR tactics and photo opportunities for good?
Never marry a politician has been shortlisted for 2014 Good Housekeeping Orion Novel Writing Prize and featured in Amazon’s top 100 for the genre.
Published by choc-lit.com
TEA – A Miscellany Steeped with Trivia, History and Recipes, by Emily Kearns from Chichester
From its beginnings in Asia to its position as a popular global pick-me-up, tea has become the drink of choice for two billion people every morning.
This charming miscellany offers everything there is to know about the ultimate brew, from why it had to be kept under lock and key in the 1800s to how to host your own Japanese tea ceremony.
£9.99, published by summersdale.com
The Nature of God’s Acre, by Reverend Dr Mark Betson, rural officer of the Chichester Diocese and wildlife expert Miles King
A staggering 175 people from 26 communities contributed to this book and there are sections on every Sussex parish which took part – including some personal accounts of parishioners’ experiences of their churchyards and their spiritual importance.
£5, published by booksalive.co.uk
From yellow star to pop star, by Dorit Oliver-Wolff from Eastbourne
The most remarkable thing about Dorit Oliver Wolff ’s story is that it is not fiction.
At four years old she performed for the future king of Yugoslavia and at six she was in hiding from the German soldiers as they rounded up and transported Jews to concentration camps around Europe.
The years that follow are just as gripping, and terrifying, from narrowly escaping capture and bombing raids to betrayal.
But singing helps her survive those dark days and soon forms its own part of Dorit’s tale.
After the war she joins a touring dance troupe until a talent scout spots her and a whole new adventure begins.
The book has been described as ‘tense, moving and inspirational’ for the way it takes the reader on a journey ‘through fear and horror, to freedom and joy’ all while showing how one brave little Jewish girl not only survived, but thrived. www.doritoliverwolff.com
Living with Arabs, by Joan Ward from Horsham
With news from the Middle East filling our newspapers and screens, Joan Ward’s new book offers an alternative perspective and remedy to the usual commentary which may analyse but give little insight into the cultural and domestic background.
Living with Arabs is an account of nine years spent visiting and living among the Bedouin tribes of Petra in southern Jordan; in some ways a world away from the neighbouring war zones.
Through insightful accounts of day-to-day life, a world of nobility and simplicity is revealed; so too is a world of violence, gender imbalance and the significance of Islam.
It is a story which begins through rose-coloured spectacles and moves to a gripping realisation of reality.
The shocking, the funny and the heart-warming – it’s all here.
£8.95 from Amazon www.amazon.co.uk
July 9, 2015 Culture and Events