Monday, March 12, 2007

Rosie Thomas, an author deserving more limelight

Also in today's blog
Celia Brayfield's rant on Jane Austen

For the next day or two I'm going to be blogging about Rosie Thomas, one of the most interesting British writers around today, but who doesn't seem to be receiving the attention she deserves from her publisher, literary agent or the media.

Go to her publisher's website and what do you find? The briefest possible bio, sans photograph.

"Rosie Thomas is the author of a number of celebrated novels, including the top ten bestsellers White, The Potter's House, If My Father Loved Me and, most recently, Sun at Midnight. Once she was established as a writer and her children were grown, she discovered a love of travelling and mountaineering. She has climbed in the Alps and the Himalayas, competed in the Peking to Paris car rally, and spent time on a tiny Bulgarian research station in Antarctica. She took inspiration for this book from a trip to Egypt and a dramatic excursion into the desert. She lives in London."




Unable to find a picture of her at Google – even at Google Images the pictures are of another Rosie Thomas, the American singer-songwriter from Seattle – I had to email HarperCollins publicity department who sent the photograph seen here.

Before you read on, go to Meet The Author and watch and listen to Britain's Rosie Thomas talking about what she considers her best book, the non-fiction Border Crossing.

"The remarkable adventure of a recreation of the first ever international motor rally, the 1907 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge. In 1996, Rosie Thomas was invited by a photgrapher and mountaineer she had met only once at Base Camp on Everest, to drive half way round the world in an antique Volvo Amazon."

Now, having seen and heard her, wouldn't you agree that she has one of the most interesting faces you've seen in a long time, plus a delightful voice which, as I wrote last week, is something not often heard on radio/TV these days?

The reason I'm blogging about her is because I've started to read my way through the short list for the Romantic Novelists' Association's annual award, to be presented at the Savoy Hotel, London, in late April. One of the final judges is Grumpy Old Bookman.

On Sunday, June 11, 2006, I blogged about last year's winner under the heading "Regretting £6.99 spent on £10,000 prize-winner".

This year I shall borrow the books from libraries or buy them in charity shops, starting with Rosie Thomas's Iris and Ruby which I found in St Peter Port's Guille-Allés Public Library.

As I already have a number of her books on my Spanish and Guernsey bookshelves, why didn't I buy Iris and Ruby? Because I've ordered a copy of Border Crossing which I read but didn't buy when it came out and have since regretted.




Here's an Amazon.co.uk Review
"In December 1996 Rosie Thomas received a cryptic message. You know you want to do it. Just say yes. P. The note was from Phil Bowen, a mountaineer and photographer Thomas had met on a trek to the Everest base camp several months before. Bowen wanted her to drive half way round the world with him in an antique Volvo Amazon, in a recreation of the first ever international motor rally, the 1907 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge.
Thomas, mother of two and best selling novelist pushing fifty, didn't exactly fit the young, male rally driver stereotype but decided to do it anyway. As a young woman she hadn't travelled: "Travel was dangerous, and demanded a sense of inner strength and adjustment that I didn't possess." Now she felt more confident. "I held all the threads of my life in my own hands now, and if I wasn't going to travel while I was at the peak of my abilities and still had some physical capacity left, then I probably never would."
Border Crossing is packed with antique cars, millionaire drivers, and, of course, breakdowns--but at its core this is less a book about rallying than about personal challenges. When Thomas's health breaks down she gets little support from the mostly male crew and doctors. She craves emotional support that Phil can't always give. This travelogue takes a refreshingly frank look at the relations between women, men and cars. --Kathleen Keefe –"

More about Rosie T and her short-listed novel Iris and Ruby tomorrow.

Celia Brayfield on Jane Austen


"It is a truth universally . . . oh, give it a rest, will you? Jane Austen built a gilded cage for women novelists"
Don't miss Celia Brayfield's rant about Jane Austen in today's
The Times
.

It includes this – " Fast-forward two hundred years. and there I was, in my very first editorial conference at an immaculately feminist publishing house, being firmly told to cut the Second World War scenes in my novel because they didn’t belong in “books like this”. Every popular woman writer I know has had the same experience of being cut down to Austen size. Somehow I doubt that his editor told Sebastian Faulks to cut the war stuff out of Birdsong. "

7 Comments:

At 12 March, 2007, Blogger juliemt said...

I just found Celia Brayfield's article about Jane Austen absolutely ridiculous. It's hardly Jane's fault if her books are constantly being adapted for the screen, is it? I think that instead of blaming Austen, Ms. Brayfield ought to blame screenwriters for failing to come up with their own plots and ideas as well as TV channels for taking the safe option and not opting for original drama if she's got a problem with too many Jane Austen movies.

It's not Jane Austen's fault though if women writers aren't taken seriously by critics but rather it's the publishers' fault for always seeking to pigeonhole female authors.

 
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