Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ceri Radford

Ceri Radford grew up in Swansea, studied English literature and French at Cambridge and started her career with Reuters. She has since written about books, TV, culture, society, male strippers and many other things besides for publications including The Daily Telegraph, the Times Literary Supplement, and Red Magazine. She currently lives, confusingly, very close to Geneva, but in France.

Her first novel, A Surrey State of Affairs, is now available in the US.

Recently I asked Radford what she was reading.  Her reply:
I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I’m currently rereading Mansfield Park for, oh, about the 87th time. I have a bit of a Jane Austen obsession. Not only is she a beautiful, timeless writer, but there is also something so soothing about her novels – that elegant sweep towards a well- ordered ending - that I reach for them a little as if they were comfort food. I always notice something new on each rereading. This time it was the brilliantly waspish way she managed to pin down a character (Mr Rushworth) in half a sentence: “He was a heavy young man, with not more than common sense...”) – a salutary lesson on the power of brevity. I did find, as usual, that I was cheering on the villains of the piece (the witty, lively, amoral Mr Crawford and his sister) while despairing at her supine goody goody of a heroine, Fanny Price. In this novel, it almost feels as though Austen is arguing against herself, painting liveliness as a dangerous quality and championing a docile, downtrodden girl who could not be further from her usual strong-minded protagonists. Elizabeth Bennett seems like a much more instinctively written, and likeable, heroine (yes, I must have read Pride and Prejudice 192 times). I’m still enjoying Mansfield Park, though – there is something so irresistible about the “triumph of the underdog” narrative running through it that I’m sure this will be far from my last rereading.

Before that, I read José Saramago’s Death with Interruptions, a lightly ironic and very moving thought experiment on what would happen if people stopped dying. I’m also midway through JP Donleavy’s 1955 classic The Ginger Man and am torn between admiration for his prose and repugnance at his wife-battering narrator.
Visit Ceri Radford's website and like her Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: A Surrey State of Affairs.

My Book, The Movie: A Surrey State of Affairs.

--Marshal Zeringue