Friday, November 01, 2013

3 4 Friday - weaving tales of the weird and the wonderful with words - Tartt, Trollope, Faulks and Forsyth

In celebration of Mark Forsyth's return to Abingdon next week (more below) today's '3-4-Friday' #FridayReads celebrates three authors who certainly know about the power of language to write a great book.

The finely-drawn story of Theo Decker, struggling to navigate how to live his life after being cast adrift by the death of his mother, is the subject of one of the biggest novels published this year - Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’, her first book in ten years.

Theo’s journey through the dinner parties of rick New Yorkers, the brash of Las Vegas, all the while remaining always on the outside, is a masterpiece of multi-layered storytelling that grips right from the start and brings to mind Pip from ‘Great Expectations’.

Full of acute observational writing, enough twists to keep the pages turning and an ending that turns up the tension to thriller territory, ‘The Goldfinch’ rewards putting aside some serious time for some seriously indulgent enjoyment. A good wallow about life, death and art to immerse yourself in. Definitely Nicki’s top ‘must-read’ of the year.

PG Wodehouse should definitely feature in anyone’s list of great English writers, and next week sees publication of a book we’ve been immensely looking forwards to  - ‘Jeeves and the Wedding Bells’. This is Sebastian Faulks’ recreation of PG Wodehouse’s beloved characters of Jeeves and Wooster and plunging them into another brilliantly-farcical, totally new story. All the hallmarks are there – a country house in monetary trouble, marriages on the line, unlikely plot twists and ridiculous set-ups. We can’t wait.

But if we line up a list of the greatest English writers, *very* near the top (hovering just behind Shakespeare) would have to be Jane Austen. The Austen Project is an audacious attempt by some of our greatest contemporary writers to update all of Jane Austen’s book and place them in a modern setting – starting with Joanna Trollope’s ‘Sense and Sensibility’.

Sisters Elinor and Marianne are forced out of their home by their brother and his new wife when their father dies. They move to Devon when they are offered a cottage by Sir John Middleton, but they all have to leave behind something that they care about.

Keeping both characters cleverly near the originals, but with added help from the internet and modern technology (love that iPod-style cover), this is a wonderful retelling of a coming of age book.

And so to the event next Wednesday (Nov 6)...

But how on earth do you go about putting one together for yourself?

If you decided you fancied yourself as a writer - whether it be for songs, radio plays, speeches or just more powerful emails - then you might want to ask Mark Forsyth for help. For the last two years, he’s been an unlikely figure at the top of the bestseller lists with his books ‘Etymologicon’ and ‘The Horologicon’. Exploring the unexpected and remarkable connections between words and how they evolve, Mark has now turned his attention to ‘The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase’ – his latest book published next week.

An eloquent speaker, Mark appeared at The Guildhall last Christmas - and returns next Wednesday (Nov 6) to talk about his latest book at Abingdon School. He’ll be examining the language of the great poets, orators, song writers and religious texts to understand how to say something well – even if you have nothing to say...

The event is an early-afternoon affair (1.30pm on Wednesday, Nov 6) at the Amey Theatre, Abingdon School. You are cordially invited and the event is free – but you’ll need to let us know you are coming.

And if you cannot attend, we would be very happy to arrange a signed copy of ‘The Elements of Eloquence’ for you – Icon Books have published it as another beautifully produced hardback at £12.99 – please email us to reserve a signed copy...

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