22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson
In the small village of Labatut Rivière in the lovely south west of France a group of readers and writers welcomed Amanda Hodgkinson, author, to talk about her first novel: 22 Britannia Road.
In preparation, I did some strenuous research on my sunlounger...
Here's the blurb:
It is 1946 and Silvana and eight-year-old Aurek board a ship that will take them from Poland to England. Silvana has not seen her husband Janusz in six years, but, they are assured, he has made a home for them in Ipswich.
However, after living wild in the forests for years, carrying a terrible secret, all Silvana knows is that she and Aurek are survivors. Everything else is lost. While Janusz, a Polish soldier who has crisscrossed Europe during the war, hopes his family will help him put his own dark past behind him.
But the war and the years apart will always haunt each of them, unless together they confront what they were compelled to do to survive.
Amanda read an extract from the points of view of the three main characters and I enjoyed (as she suggested everybody does) being read to in the glorious sunshine with a glass of rosé and only next door’s cockerel to punctuate the silences.
Then Amanda spoke about her motivation for writing the book - her attempt to capture something of the relationships between families who were separated during the war and, although reunited, are never the same.
The discussion then moved on to her journey to publication: One query letter (I said 'one' there in case you missed that), several bids which led to an auction, and the novel went straight onto the New York Times bestseller list. A dream for many, but good to hear it can, and does, happen.
Amanda's second novel Spilt Milk was released earlier this year and has been very well received:
'Hogkinson's second novel is simply but elegantly written, its subtle charms emerging as her gentle, bittersweet story shows history repeating itself over the generations' Sunday Times
She also spoke about the Grand Central, an anthology to be released in July which sounds very intriguing:
Now, ten bestselling authors inspired by this iconic landmark have created their own stories, set on the same day, just after the end of World War II, in a time of hope, uncertainty, change, and renewal...
Thanks to Jane who hosted the lunch in her beautiful garden. I returned home with garden envy and road-to-publication envy. But it was an enjoyable day and great to meet so many book lovers.