Iâ€™m not sure how this came about but Jeremy Vine read my last column on shropshirelive.comÂ and tweeted about the review of his book. He repeated what I wrote about him being (in my opinion) a â€˜smug, arrogant, glib, Metrocentric, soft-left know-allâ€™ but said that I had been very fair. Well, I did say that his book is hugely funny, that he clearly is no coward when it comes to the front line and that he has had a distinguished career but I do take my hat off to him for tweeting my none-too- flattering description to his wide following and so I now add to it that he displays grace under fire.
Jeremy Vineâ€™s tweet was made on 14th July, the launch date for my new book. I have always liked giving parties and book launch parties are no exception. The launches for my first three books took place in the dark months of the year and the parties were indoors with the garden lit by flaming torches and, on one occasion, handsome young men dressed as Praetorian Guards handing out the drinks. For book II, which covers the Boudiccan revolt, the lovely Tania Jordan came as the red-haired Queen and delivered a moving speech about how the Britons were not the savages portrayed by the Romans. For Book III, Ray, my husband, gamely dressed as Nero and I rouged his cheeks, put kohl round his eyes and gave him a slick of red lipstick while he practised saying nasty things in Neroâ€™s softly lisping, menacing voice. So convincing was my husbandâ€™s performance that no-one recognised him and he terrified quite a few of our guests.
The question was, how could we top that? I decided that this time the party would be in the summer and it would be outside so that we could wander about the garden, drink in hand, and have a really relaxed kind of a gathering. It was all arranged, including the hog roast, the bonfire and the live music but, just half an hour before the guests were due to arrive, the heavens opened and any idea of an outside bash had to be abandoned. Luckily, we live right next door to the Village Hall and there were enough strong men around to move the tables and chairs back to where they had come from so that the party could take place in the Hall and no-one would suffer from the rain.
As it turned out, we were all very British about it and it was a great success â€“ I sold quite a few books, the roast pork baps were wonderful and then Gary Hall held us all spellbound with his guitar playing and the musical poetry of his songs followed by the best disco music playlist I have ever heard from Marcus Harris. What on earth can we do when I need to do something different to launch Book V?
Book Review – Mothers and Daughters – Kate Long
The relationship between mothers and their daughters is a fertile source for literature. From Jane Austen whose plot in â€˜Pride and Prejudiceâ€™ is driven by Mrs Bennettâ€™s ambitions for her girls to Nancy Friday whose â€˜My Mother, Myselfâ€™ makes the case for the mother/daughter bond being the most important and influential of any girlâ€™s life, there are many books which describe, chronicle, illustrate and analyse the many and varied aspects of two females living cheek by jowl. In the normal course of events, just as the one grows into womanhood, the other is experiencing the menopause and it is a wonder that any relationship escapes these challenges unscathed. This is the home territory of Kate Long whose â€˜Mothers and Daughtersâ€™ I have just read. Kate Long came to prominence with â€˜The Bad Motherâ€™s Handbookâ€™ which was serialised on Radio 4 and dramatised starring Catherine Tate and since then has written several books which feature ordinary women leading ordinary lives but without in any way being obsessed with the kitchen sink.
Mothers and Daughters is in the same vein, telling the story of Carol the almost fifty-something mother of â€˜feistyâ€™ Jasmine and grandma to the adored Matty. Carol suffered the infidelities of Phil for too many years but when Jasâ€™s husband, Ian, lapses in a similar fashion, she, in league with Ianâ€™s father, the quietly attractive David, tries to effect a reconciliation.
The wealth of day-to-day detail in the book is offset by the neat structural device of having each chapter begin with a description of a photograph from one of the family albums which Carol is attempting to organise and the seemingly innocent pictures and Carolâ€™s thoughts about them provide depth to the characters and a useful backdrop to the plot. On the face of it, this is chick-lit â€“ the paperback cover is white with pink and blue shoes in the foreground and there are glittery accents to the shoes â€“ but I feel that the writing is too serious and too good to be put into a genre which is usually more concerned with sex and shopping.
Carol tries to keep her sanity despite great provocation and wants only the best for her adored grandson. I was left wondering, though, if she would have been quite so dotty about him had he been a girl. I liked Carol as a character and enjoyed spending nearly 500 pages worth of my time with her but I became increasingly irritated with Jas; she has had a much more privileged life than her mother but her high-handed treatment of Carol, her foul mouth and her hysterical selfishness made me want to stop her pocket money and send her to bed which is what used to happen to spoiled children who thought that the world revolves around them.
â€˜Mothers and Daughtersâ€™ was first published in hardback as â€˜The Motherâ€™s Guide to Cheatingâ€™. It is now available in paperback and e-formats. ****
By J.A. Gordon
More articles by Shropshire based author J.A. Gordon:
J.A. Gordon â€“ Shropshire Writer in Residence
Discovering e-publishing and Tamara Drewe book review
The bane of Christmas Books and Living Life Without Loving the Beatles Review
Shropshire author J.A. Gordon talks about every writerâ€™s nightmare
Shropshire author J.A. Gordon â€“ rules for a good book
Shropshire author J.A. Gordon – The Loneliness of the long distance writer
Shropshire author J.A. Gordon â€“ Where do you get your ideas?
Shropshire author J.A. Gordon â€“ Jeremyâ€™s tweet and the launch party
All about J.A. Gordon
Judith Gordon is a barrister and was an in-house lawyer and long distance commuter for twenty years before redundancy made her see that there is life after the corporate rat race. She moved to Shropshire in 2007 with her husband and adores the fabulous food and spectacular scenery although recent winters have been a bit of a trial. In addition to her writing, Judith is Strategy Director of face2face solicitors a national franchise. Judithâ€™s books are available online and from booksellers, see www.chroniclesofeternity.co.uk for more information.