Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Orange Wednesday: It so happens (Ferguson)

When I started out on my Orange Wednesday project, to read titles from previous Orange longlists as a way of extending my modern literary reading, I spent a while typing titles into Amazon and library to read their synopses and reviews and decide whether or not they were titles which interested me. It so happens was a title which I found in that way; its premise of an original novel set in a retirement home interested me, having greatly enjoyed both Jerusalem and Mrs Palfrey at the Claremount which have similar settings.

This is a quirky book about eccentric characters. Rosemary, the deputy warden who loves to cook, and who falls in love with a conman (although one would like to think that her incredibly light sticky toffee pudding initially charmed him). Annie, who has been profoundly deaf since child hood. Althea, who develops cataracts, the overbearing and formiddable warden Betty Potts are both hugely entertaining and engaging, compelling the reader to read on as much to find out about them as about the plot.

The plot itself is a somewhat gothic tale of what happens when Betty tries to restore the home towards its former grandeur ; a mysterious past is uncovered. I won't give anymore away about it, but following the prologue to the book it would be impossible not to read on to find out what happens.

One thing that puzzled me though was the publication, by Solidus press. The book itself was somewhat flimsy, almost as if it had been selfpublished. I felt intrigued that something so obviously out of the mainstream could make it onto the Orange longlist.

The book was longlisted in 2005 and Patricia Ferguson wrote another longlisted title in 2007 called Peripheral Vision which I am equally intrigued to read and have added to my library wishlist.


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