Friday, 11 May 2012

The proof of the pudding . . .

Last week a large parcel arrived from Transworld. It contained the proofs of the book that will be published this autumn under the title The Sea Garden.

It has always been one of my jobs to proof read the books. This is both a joy and a nightmare: a joy because I really enjoy reading what Marcia writes and a nightmare since it is so easy to get carried away by the story only to realise that for the last few pages I have been ‟reading″ rather than ‟proof reading″.

By the time we get to this stage I have already read the book at least four times (when writing, the first draft when complete, after the editorial requests have been included and at the copy editing stage). Thus Marcia is always very surprised – and pleased – when I burst out laughing since she feels I really ought to be bored silly by this stage. The fact is that I am not: unlike most, Marcia’s novels can be reread many times and each reading brings out something new: often an unexpected link in the webs of personal relationships she weaves with such dexterity.

This book is set in part in the old familiar scenes of Tavistock (where we catch up with some of Marcia’s old familiar characters) and, for the first time, Marcia visits the banks of the River Tamar. Many readers refuse to believe that Marcia finds descriptive writing to be extremely difficult because she does it so well. I have never read anything by any author which evokes a place with more precision and with more beautiful writing than some of the paragraphs in this book: they are a treat to read. And don’t say, ‟well he would say that, wouldn’t he?″.
Marcia is standing on the saltings at the high tide mark.
She and Jossie are returning from an evening walk.

The title comes from a garden that has been made behind an old quay which was built out into the river many years ago to enable trading vessels to tie up alongside. It is a large flat area, bounded by an old stone wall and a lavender hedge: the scene of many parties past and present.

Those proofs are now back with Transworld and so we now await the cover design and the blurb. I will keep you informed.

The other good news this week is that Linda Evans, Marcia’s editor at Transworld, has read and thoroughly approved the book to follow The Sea Garden. Like all books, it has a working title but I will keep that a secret. It was a mistake to talk about The Ginger Jar as that was a working title with the book being published as The Prodigal Wife. To this day barely a week goes by without someone asking where they can buy The Ginger Jar as they can’t find it anywhere. Well, they wouldn’t, would they?


The old ‛poles seem to be developing more slowly this year than is usual. That is not to say that they are not growing at the usual rate but there is still no sign of legs. This is almost certainly because it has been so cold. They live in a utility room which is unheated but faces south. The usual problem is to keep it cool enough for them but not this year.

Sometimes tadpoles just fail to grow up in one season and then overwinter as rather oversized individuals who wait until the following summer to change into frogs. As far as I know, thy have no problems with this. I just hope that I don’t have any like that as looking after tem through the winter would be a bit of a nightmare.