Salon about Elizabeth Jenkins
UPDATE: THE SALON IS ON FEBRUARY 1st.
On January 25th, I’m hosting a salon to discuss The Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins. Tortoise is the novel I most enjoyed discovering last year. It’s one of the great post-war English novels, and it’s seriously under rated. It’s one of those books that puts the rest of your life on hold as soon as you start reading it.
It is compelling, partly, because it is vicious. Despite the rural upper-middle-class setting, full of good manners and gracious living, Tortoise is about the bitterness that can come about at the end of a marriage. And it’s based on real life. Elizabeth had an affair and was left disappointed when the man married someone else. Hence some of the withering, Austen-esque characterisation. Broken hearts write sharp fiction.
I’ve spent the last nine months researching Elizabeth’s life. I’m running this salon as part of my mission to bring Elizabeth Jenkins back to a bigger readership. Anyone who attends will be able to discuss the book as a group — and I’ll provide context and information about Elizabeth, her life and work, and some historical context about post-war Britain.
As well as being able to tell you about Elizabeth, I can give information about the real people behind the characters. These include Sir Eardley Holland, a prominent gynaecologist, his talented and neglected wife Dorothy Holland (née Colgate), and Olivia Constable, a member of an old Sussex Brewing family who was mercilessly turned into Blanche Silcox in the novel. We’ll see pictures of them and hear about their lives and how they were used as the basis for characters. It’s been a fascinating project. The hidden lives of “ordinary” people can be just as interesting as lives of the accomplished, especially when they have been turned into fiction.
I’m excited to be able to run this session with InterIntellect and of course I wanted to tell you all about it. I know from your emails and conversations that some of you enjoyed the book as much as I did. Even if you don’t want to come to the salon, do read the book if you haven’t. And if you want to know more about The Tortoise and the Hare you can sign up here. I look forward to seeing you.