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!
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.