Dear MyBookMoment Subscribers
I’m writing this on a cold, sharp, slightly-damp-around-the-edges November morning, sitting in bed (where all the best writing gets done) with my first cup of tea of the day. There’s an apple tree outside my window; the fruit is mostly all gone now (some of it rotting in the grass, I’m ashamed to say, but lots chopped, cinnamon-stewed, and stacked in the freezer for apple crumble) and the leaves are beginning to turn yellow and rosy orange. The year has definitely turned a corner.
November is my favourite month, and if my Twitter timeline and Instagram feed is anything to go by, the firm favourite of booklovers everywhere. This is Reading Season; the time when days are short, evenings are long, and sofas, blankets, hot drinks and big books exert an irresistible appeal. It’s is the brief spell of calm between the full-on glare of summer, with its pressures to be sociable and active, and the non-stop madness of the festive season.
I love Christmas (in spite of the non-stop madness, and never having nailed any approximation of the ‘dressed up but not overdressed’ party look) but I often find myself dreading New Year, which is when my natural hermit tendencies clash most uncomfortably with ridiculous FOMO. However, this year I feel a bit differently. For various reasons 2019 is a year I won’t be sorry to see the back of, and 2020 feels like a fresh start – not only a new year, but a new decade too. We’re saying goodbye to the odd, nameless era we’ve just been through (if the decade before was the noughties, was this one the teenies?) and heading into the twenties. Which, if they’re anything like their 100-year-old namesake, promise glamour, sparkle, innovation, and a whole lot of fun.
My book, The Glittering Hour, is set partly in the 1920s, and I absolutely loved researching the period. When I started my knowledge didn’t extend much beyond cocktails, Bright Young Things and jazz, but that was enough to spark my interest (a Sidecar-chugging, boundary-pushing, Charleston-dancing, poor little rich girl was always going to be fun to write!) As I read more and researched further I discovered treasure hunts and costume balls, drink, drugs and decadence, and found it astonishing to remember that all this took place just a few short years after the horror of the Great War.
The 1920s have come to be synonymous with glamour and hedonism, and yet the war must have still been fresh in the heads and hearts of all those who had been through it; who had served themselves, or waved off loved ones, who lived every day with trauma or life-changing injury, or the ache of bereavement. As I explored the character of my heroine Selina, it became difficult to see the drinking and dancing as anything other than an escape; an act of courage and defiance, and a means of painting on a bright smile (quite literally, with the first cosmetic counters appearing in smart shops like Selfridges) and getting on with the business of living. It was really fascinating to examine all of that, and then to skip forward another decade and see how the glitter had faded as the shadow of economic disaster and another war crept over the nation.
But I mustn’t tell you any more about the story now, and will leave you to discover it for yourselves! Wishing you a peaceful Reading Season, a Happy Christmas, and a New Year that sparkles with fun and optimism (and possibly a cocktail or two…)