I had never heard of Sophie Gee before Saturday and I went along to her session mainly because I was interested in the topic – what the classics can teach us in writing fiction today – and also because it was chaired by Angela Meyer, whose Literary Minded blog I quite enjoy.
I am often influenced to buy a book at a festival based on the author’s personality. Sophie Gee spoke with such wit and intelligence about literature in general and about her book that I was compelled to rush out and buy it. Alas, the Dymocks tent had run out of copies! So I’ll be heading off to my local bookstore this week to pick up a copy of The Scandal of the Season which tells the love story behind the real life characters featured in Pope’s poem The Rape of the Lock. I love that idea as a premise for a book and can’t wait to read it.
I saw Sophie Gee again in a book club session with Brenda Walker and Toni Jordan, also chaired by Angela Meyer. Each author named 3 books they would take with them to a desert island. Sophie chose two of my favourite books – Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre – and she also chose Mrs Dalloway. I happened to buy Mrs Dalloway at a second hand book stall at the local church fete a couple of months ago and have not yet read it but am now motivated to put it near the top of my reading pile. Gail Jones also mentioned this was one of her favourite books in a later session, so I have double the motivation to start this book soon.
Brenda Walker spoke with such passion about Anna Karenina, a book I have had on my shelf unread for at least a couple of years, that I am now committed to reading it before the year ends. This was a great festival session by the way, one of my favourites. It was held in the Sunken Garden and with only about 25 people in attendance – they had stiff competition being on at the same time as Annie Proulx – so it made for an intimate evening that really did feel like a book club.
I’m not normally a huge fan of biography – too many facts, not enough fiction! – but Lyndall Gordon spoke so enticingly about her biography of one of my favourite poets, Emily Dickinson, that I am also adding this to the reading pile. And I’m going to finish right now before the reading pile totters over!