Monday, March 2, 2015

Kate Riordan

Kate Riordan is a British writer and journalist who worked for the Guardian and Time Out London. Her new novel is Fiercombe Manor. She is also the author of Birdcage Walk and is already at work on her third novel.

Last month I asked Riordan about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m currently in the middle of Rachel Hore’s A Gathering Storm, which I’m really enjoying. It’s just the sort of escapist read I look for when life is busy and the news is depressing. There is a modern strand but It’s mainly set in the 1930s and during the Second World War, and follows Beatrice Marlow from rural Cornwall (which I know and love myself) to war-battered London and back. It’s got all the elements I like in a book – and tried to put in my own: family secrets, a historical setting, a big old house, thwarted romance and a dose of tragedy for good measure. Operating on similar lines, except with a supernatural element, I also read House of Echoes by Barbara Erskine recently.

I’ve also just read Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, which had garnered a huge amount of hype here in the UK ahead of publication and so I was intrigued to read it. The story follows Maud and alternates between her past as a girl just after the Second World War and the present. It’s part detective story, part exploration of the effects of dementia and it’s stayed with me since I finished it. Maud’s confusion and circular thinking as an elderly lady is totally convincing – and also frightening: you can’t help but think about how you would cope with something similar one day.

Next up on my reading list is Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies. The BBC has just adapted that and its predecessor, Wolf Hall, for TV and I really look forward to watching it every Wednesday night. I’ve been saving Bring Up the Bodies because I so enjoyed the first one and because you don’t want to rush through writing as beautifully crafted as this, but it’s high time I got stuck in now. For those who haven’t discovered it yet, it’s the Tudor-era story of Thomas Cromwell, told in three parts (Mantel is still writing the third). Cromwell has traditionally been depicted as a scheming villain but in this account, he’s clever, wily and witty – but also kind.

I’ve just realized that all the above are at least partially set in the past! I do read contemporary fiction (honest) but there’s something about the past that always lures me in. I’ve been mad about time travelling since I saw Back to the Future with my dad as a little kid. And there’s no question for me: if I had a DeLorean with a working flux capacitor I would definitely go back rather than forward.
Visit Kate Riordan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Fiercombe Manor.

--Marshal Zeringue