Sunday, 17 July 2011

Girl Reading - Katie Ward

This one came recommended to me via several BookCrossing friends as the author has also been known to BookCross locally. As usual I met the suggestion with the disdain "a friend wrote this book" often inspires in me.
Then there was a book signing in Ipswich and I'm a sucker for helping people along their way, indie bookshops or small authors. Off I went and there sat Katie as their front of house for the signing session, all alone. No staff on hand to chat to, no punters queuing.
So that's me £12.99 down straight away.
Then I find from another local friend that this is a book of short stories. I hate short stories.
Having offered to pass it on to someone else it languished for less time than is common in my house before I picked it up. And got sucked in.

The author picked me up and plonked me down in Siena in the 14th century. Very neatly done, smells and sounds came to life. The description of the hospital immediately put me in mind of the possible environment of L'Hospice de la comtesse in Lille which may not look right at all but the visualisation was not of the appearance but the atmosphere.
I met the young orphan, I felt her confusion and I met the artist and began to understand the politics of Siena, the church and the people. Historical writing at it's best.

Suddenly I am removed from Siena. It's time to visit Amsterdam. Here I meet a deaf girl who struggles through the plague times. I'm reminded how childbirth was dangerous, I reminded of the harsh conditions for the insane and I'm shown the insecurities of a second wife in a first wife's household.

I've met a photographer, a medium, an MP's assistant and lots of others.I've travelled through time (thankfully mainly forwards). I've revised my stance on other people's opinions of books. This one is in no way a book of short stories. Patience will out.

As I read through I was put in mind of Barabara Erskine with her highly researched medieval fiction, Margaret Atwood with her science fiction and Vikas Swarup with his "nip around and bite you on the bum" surprise skills.

I am still left wondering though- how is it that an author so young is so skilled and what is yet to come. I will be spending another £12.99 as soon as possible. Meantime against my usual habit this one remains on the shelf!

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