I recently attended the Fowey Festival of Art and Literature, as I waltzed down to the marquee where Veronica Henry was due to chat to Harriet Evans, the view stopped me in my tracks, simply gorgeous, could there be a better setting?
As a light breeze wafted in from the sea, Veronica introduced us and hosted the chat beautifully. Harriet had wanted to share the stage, to chat about both their books (A Family Recipe and The Wildflowers), but no said Veronica, this was about Harriet, and Veronica asked some searching and fascinating questions. Harriet worked in publishing (was Veronica’s editor) before she decided to write, her career nearly floundered when a faulty hard drive decided to destroy her first 30,000 words, yet she continued, and says that having to rewrite took the book to a better place.
Harriet believes that every book can be summed up in one line, that a central plait should sit through the novel, and that books need soul, to sit and be mellow, that a book takes time to mature. She can forensically pick apart her books, and is more than happy for an editor to be involved, her past experience as an editor enables her to join in the process rather than hinder it.
Harriet spoke about the inspiration for her latest book The Wildflowers, she was on a beach in Dorset playing in the waves with her then three year old and wanted the perfect summer, a host of golden moments for her children to remember. She decided to write about the ideal holiday home, a pop-up book of ideas and photos grew until The Wildflowers was born. She adores the cover, the colours, the cushion on the seat inviting you to sit on the veranda…
Tony and Althea Wilde. Glamorous, argumentative … adulterous to the core.
They were my parents, actors known by everyone. They gave our lives love and colour in a house by the sea – the house that sheltered my orphaned father when he was a boy.
But the summer Mads arrived changed everything. She too had been abandoned and my father understood why. We Wildflowers took her in.
My father was my hero, he gave us a golden childhood, but the past was always going to catch up with him … it comes for us all, sooner or later.
This is my story. I am Cordelia Wilde. A singer without a voice. A daughter without a father. Let me take you inside.
And finally here is my review for The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans
The Bosky, a wonderful seaside holiday home sits centre stage in this story, comforting, embracing, helping you move from the Second World War through to 2015. We get to know, to care about, to love the Wilde’s, the sophisticated Tony and Althea and their offspring, their treasured and traumatic memories, what makes them tick, their secrets, their lies. This is a story that feels hugely worldly-wise yet also so very intimate, it travels through time, and takes you to the heart of emotions. Harriet Evans made every character matter to me, she covers the generations, from youngest to oldest beautifully, they also feel so very real, everyone is perfectly imperfect. As the story wrapped itself around me, I became consumed by each time span, only coming up for breath with each break in time, which in turn led to a new discovery. The Bothy travels with the Wilde’s, becoming as one with their story. I adored ‘The Wildflowers”, bittersweet, knowing, eloquently engaging and so very very satisfying… what a truly rewarding read this is.
The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans was published by Headline in April 2018.
Find out more about Harriet Evans by visiting her website here.