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23926130I was very pleased to be able to attend this event at Bloomsbury Publishing earlier this week where the biographer Frances Spalding carried out a joint interview with Priya Parmar, author of Vanessa and Her Sister (which I reviewed here) and Amanda Coe, writer of Life in Squares, the upcoming BBC series about the Bloomsbury Group.

It was a really pleasant evening, and I found out some interesting stuff:

  • Priya took 7 years to research and write the novel, immersing herself in the mountain of correspondence
  • she didn’t originally intend the novel to be in the form of a diary
  • her view was is that it definitely can’t have been easy to be Virginia Woolf’s sister (knowing laughter from the audience)
  • Amanda’s TV series will also have Vanessa Bell as the central character
  • it will cover the period 1905 to 1948, compared to Priya’s novel which covers 1905 to 1912
  • why Vanessa Bell – the most visual and last verbal of the group, but very much the “silent lynchpin”, and there is a lot in the literature about her, but very little by her apart from her letters, which are silent on some of the really important things such as The Great Betrayal

There was also a very interesting discussion about views of the Bloomsbury Set, seen as a cliquey group with many having the impression that there is a lot of material about them which may be true of the written word but there is in fact very little in drama. Both had been warned about potential backlash from people who loathe Bloomsbury and all that it appears to stand for but also the very knowledgeable “fans” who will have their own view of how it should all be done. But both Amanda and Priya agreed that they were just fascinating people who knew that they were interesting which made it all worthwhile.

I was able to have a quick chat with Priya and got my book signed which was great.

1041565What’s it all about?

The event became known as The Pulse. The virus was carried by every cellular phone operating in the world. Within hours, those receiving calls would become insane – or die.

Indeed, that is the basic premise of Cell. But let’s not beat about the bush – this is basically a zombie novel 🙂

Why did I want to read it?

Well, have been taking part in the King’s March challenge and had done quite well (two short stories, one new novel and one re-read) and hadn’t really thought to pick up any others even though there was a chunk of the month still to go. But when looking for something else I came across this 2006 novel which I had completely forgotten about, and as I was looking for something light (if insane phone-call triggered zombies can be called light) to read, here we are.

What did I think of it?

While far from being his best novel I thought Cell was a cool idea that was pretty well executed. Like a lot of King’s novels it stands or falls on what you think of the main protagonist and Clay Riddell, the comic book artist whose world is turned upside down in seconds, is a likeable character driven to do some very brave things through a desire to get back to the family from whom he has been separated. So as well as being about zombies it is also a classic quest – Clay is joined by a small band of people with whom he has been thrown together by circumstances outside of his control and they head out of burning Boston so he can try to find his son.

The development of the zombies is very interesting and unusual (to me at least) and without giving anything away they become much more than the standard mindless brain-eating hordes that you might have expected. I like the fact that we never know what caused The Pulse, and I also like the way the novel ends. But it’s the characters that make this successful – human and flawed and trying their best in a terrible situation but not always getting it right.

I liked it.

Bride of the Book God

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Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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March 2015