Monday, January 14, 2013

Walking in Oxfordshire, and Linda Newbery's endorsement.

Last week with the walking group from the village where we used to live, we walked by footpaths from Enstone to Woodstock. Much less muddy than our New Year's Day walk, being higher ground. It is an area of ironstone houses and cottages - Thomas quotes Matthew Arnold writing to his mother,
'the yellows and browns of that oolite stone, which you may remember about Adderbury on the road to Oxford,  make it one of the most beautiful things in the world.'

Linda Newbery. Winner of the Costa Children's Book Award
A great pleasure for me was talking to the author Linda Newbery, writer of high quality children's and teenager's books. (Set in Stone was a major winner.) She does have an adult novel in preparation too.                                               

Linda, known to be an Edward Thomas fan, had been sent a copy of A Conscious Englishman by Frank and was half-way through reading it. I was very pleased to hear that she was really enjoying it - indeed giving it high praise. She even said she was 'living in it' at that time.
She asked me very pertinent questions about using sources and commented that she couldn't imagine beginning writing a novel that way. I told her that sadly I couldn't imagine beginning from purely  imagination - I wish I could!
This week Frank received her endorsement of the book:

'I was given this book by my editor, David Fickling, as he knows of my liking for
Edward Thomas. I've very much enjoyed and admired it.

I think it must have been a difficult challenge to draw on source material while
giving the flavour of fiction, but Margaret Keeping has pulled it off very
successfully. Her writing is very assured and she has the necessary eye for
place, detail, weather and seasons to write about Edward Thomas. I especially
like the way she's shown the origins of the poems in his observations, and her
depiction of the complicated relationships between the main characters.

I hope the book will reach the wide audience it deserves and feel sure that many
others will enjoy it as much as I have.  Thank you.'

Glymton Post Office, en route

Lunch was at the Killingworth Castle, Wooton by Woodstock. Very good too. So:
'By the time we got to  Woodstock we were... ' , well, walking along the boundary of Blenheim Palace parkland. 
The Palace of course was built as a gift from Queen Anne, along with the title, for the first Duke of Marlborough. It was the  Duke who as well as winning a famous battle also named a new  apple 'Blenheim Orange.' Marlborough was the subject of Edward Thomas's last commissioned book, written in spring 1915, after which he enlisted.

Poem: Rather than Lob I am going for the Blenheim Oranges as those apples give me a link to the moving, self-exploratory poem below. The title came from words he heard Bronwen say when she was little, 'gone and gone again.'  The house is a London house he knew in childhood.

 Gone, gone again

Gone, gone again,
May, June, July,
And August gone,
Again gone by,

Not memorable
Save that I saw them go,
As past the empty quays
The rivers flow.

And now again,
In the harvest rain,
The Blenheim oranges
Fall grubby from the trees

As when I was young
And when the lost one was here
And when the war began
To turn young men to dung.

Look at the old house,
Outmoded, dignified,
Dark and untenanted,
With grass growing instead

Of the footsteps of life,
The friendliness, the strife;
In its beds have lain
Youth. love, age, and pain:

I am something like that;
Only I am not dead,
Still breathing and interested
In the house that is not dark:-

I am something like that:
Not one pane to reflect the sun,
For the schoolboys to throw at -
They have broken every one.

Linda's site      

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