Girl, Reading

29 Aug
Simone Martini: Annunciation - Uffizi - Florence

Simone Martini: Annunciation – Uffizi – Florence (Photo credit: russellmcneil)

The last time we talked, I was sitting on a pavement between the Thames river and the Globe Theatre, eating pizza and chatting to a writer.

We had a good long natter (read: Q&A session in which I remorselessly picked her brain.  I would say ‘brains’ but don’t we all have just one each?) about the merits or otherwise of traditional versus self-publishing and the value of regular blog posting (guilty of not doing which I presently am) in creating a platform from which to sell your masterpiece.

My first question, naturally and not at all tactfully was, Have I heard of you?  

Polite reply: Probably not.  My name is Katie Ward.

My second, What have you written?

The answer: A novel, Girl, Reading.

Reader, I downloaded it.

It is reasonably priced on Amazon at just over a fiver; eight-fifty in the States. While I have been unwell this past week, I devoured it.  I have a…I wouldn’t call it a ‘chapter’, exactly; a section, perhaps; to go.  The book is not a novel in the traditional sense; but neither is it quite a collection of short stories.  It is something in between.  I don’t know what that might be, but I don’t believe it matters.

Here’s what some of the experts say:

Hilary Mantel: Girl Reading is a debut of rare individuality and distinction.

Viv Groskop: This is a real wow of a first novel.

The Telegraph: An impressive debut … each vignette is a masterfully drawn miniature.

The Guardian:  This debut should appeal to a wide but discerning readership. Not for Katie Ward the coming-of-age first novel starring a barely disguised over-sensitive heroine airing her resentments: Girl Reading reads as though its author is five books down. 

Washington Independent Review of Books: Let me echo the book’s last word: Engrossing!

Angelica Kauffmann, ‘Portrait of a Lady’ c.1775

Tate Britain

It is a literary novel of a girl reading – seven girls, actually; in seven separate stories.  The overriding theme for me was that of female choice – whether she has it; how she has it; what she does with it.  Each tale suggests the story behind a work of art, in which girls are reading in various forms, from 1333 to the present and beyond.

Once I had overcome the shock of the missing punctuation (a deliberate device which, ultimately, works; and I say that as a punctuation pedant), I couldn’t put it down.  I am a ruthless reader: life is too short to waste on reading bad books, so I don’t.  This is a good book.

My only frustration is also a compliment to the author: each tale was too short for my liking.  I want to know what happens to the characters once their story ends.   This novel embodies the adage, always leave them wanting more, in the best possible sense.  Definitely recommended.

Incidentally, the author, Katie Ward, is a very nice person, if the three hours we shared on a cold floor are anything to go by.  Visit her website if you’d like to know more.


The Laughing Housewife received no fee for this review (sadly).  She just loved the book.


21 Responses to “Girl, Reading”

  1. slpmartin August 29, 2013 at 14:18 #

    My you were busy in London…thanks for the review.


  2. Al August 29, 2013 at 14:29 #

    To: Tilly Bud

    Re; Girl, Reading

    Subj: Very interesting

    Fm: Boy, reading


    • The Laughing Housewife August 29, 2013 at 18:58 #

      To: Boy, reading

      From: Tilly, reading

      Subj: ‘Boy’? That’s a bit optimistic, isn’t it? 😀


  3. Terry August 29, 2013 at 16:00 #

    when do you find the time to read in your schedule???? LOL


  4. laurieanichols August 29, 2013 at 16:26 #

    You write a good review Tilly. Isn’t it exciting whenyou meet someone by chance and they have accomplished something very cool? She will feel the same way about meeting you when your book gets published in the future.


  5. mairedubhtx August 29, 2013 at 16:42 #

    I always like to hear about a new book.


  6. SchmidleysScribbling August 29, 2013 at 19:14 #

    I thought Al was “The little read Hood.” Dianne


  7. Janet Williams August 29, 2013 at 22:35 #

    We watched Macbeth yesterday. What a show! Totally unbelievable! Absolutely stunning. I got lots of spits flying on us too — the benefit of getting close and personal near the stage, adoring the wonderful (and gorgeous) actors and actresses.

    The final dance (now I learnt it’s called a jig, apparently Shakespearean) was a beautiful surprise.

    I will start saving money to see more plays at the Globe. So touching. A foreign lady standing next to me burst into tear after the show — she was so overwhelmed. Me too. It was such an honour to be there to appreciate the finest performance (never mind the amount of spit — they are just so passionate).


    • The Laughing Housewife August 29, 2013 at 22:36 #

      The jig was traditionally performed after every play, no matter if it was a tragedy. It sent everyone away happy.

      Fabulous, wasn’t it? 😀


      • Janet Williams August 29, 2013 at 22:41 #

        It was so wonderful to be able to watch their faces — their wrinkles, their make-up, their blood (oh dear!), and got covered by the smoke (what was it? what kind of powder?)and I nearly got the shredded letter.

        Just a shame that no one signed my programme. 🙂

        I left the theatre a much recharged, emotional person.


  8. Three Well Beings August 29, 2013 at 23:09 #

    This really does sound like an intriguing story premise, and I’m very happy you had the opportunity to visit with the author. I hope, also, she was able to inspire you in your writing and publication. I also hope you’re feeling better!


  9. jatwood4 August 30, 2013 at 02:59 #

    Sounds great! Thanks!


  10. barb19 August 30, 2013 at 07:01 #

    The book sounds intriguing following your excellent review, thanks. I will try and get it from Amazon – you have got my curiosity going!


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