I read this last night, and absolutely loved it. I was hoping to go and hear Francesca Kay talk about it tonight (and Mark Mills on the Information Officer), but my poor car is still poorly (this time it is the fault of Ford who apparently are incapable of packing up a new door so that it arrives at the garage in better shape than the door that has been replaced...), and Direct Line have never got back to me about that hire car (I feel a complaint coming on...).
This is a fictional biography (completely fictional, in that the character does not exist, as opposed to fictionalised biography) of Jennett Mallow, an artist. The book tells her story from her childhood and discovery of artistic talent, through her marriage and children, and the way in which it impacts on her abilities as an artist. What I found particularly special was the way in which Kay describes Mallow's paintings; the depictions are so vivid that it's almost hard to believe that this is only a book about a fictional character. In some ways, I found it reminiscent of Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy which is partly about artists and their lives in a period covered by the book.
It was Kay's debut novel, and according to the sticker on the front of the library copy, has been serialised on Radio 4. I expect to hear good things about this book (shortlistings for prizes, or possibly Richard and Judy), and will be interested to see what Kay produces next.
Anyway, the good news is that I managed to get hold of the sequel to Miss Buncle's book (another fantastic Persephone that I read a fortnight ago), called Miss Buncle Married. I started reading it at lunchtime, and it's just as entertaining and readable, though I'm wondering if D.E. Stevenson is going to be able to pull such a spectacular twist in this novel as the previous one. According to the prelims, there is a third book, and that is also in the store at the library headquarters, so I've decided that 85p reservations do not fall into my non-book-buying and sent off for it.
I'm going to make some strawberry clotted cream ice cream today (must remember to take a picture while the machine is on!) and then I guess I'll have a quiet sit down with the rest of Miss Buncle :)