Northwich Lit Fest is now in it’s eighth year and is the brainchild of author and organiser Susi Osborne. It’s a celebration of literature and the written/spoken word and takes place in, and closely around Northwich in June each year.
Unfortunately we go on holiday in June each year so I invariably miss most of the events I’d like to see, in fact the last event I managed was an evening with author Carole Matthews way back in 2015. However this year, the gods were on my side and a large number of events took place before my designated departure date. So to make the most of it I signed up for six events – all varied and all well worth my time, I have been royally informed, amused and entertained. I’m crossing my fingers that my luck might be in for next year as I now know what I’ll be missing!
Take a look at the events that are left for the rest of the festival here.
Wednesday 5th June
To get my ball rolling, my first event was the Literary Lunch held at Hartford Golf Club, which I attended with a couple of friends. Not normally a lady who lunches (unless you count a sandwich at the local pub) this was an opportunity to have a sneaky peak at the newly renovated Room One function suite. I have to say, it is very smart and I’m sure will serve them well as their premier wedding and events space.
The main reason for going though was to listen to the guest speaker Laura Wilkinson. As is so often the case I had a quick look on Goodreads and was not surprised to discover I was already the proud owner of her novel Public Battles, Private Wars which has been republished as Crossing the Line the novel that was the subject of her talk.
Laura was born in Liverpool, grew up in Wales and now lives in Brighton. With a degree in English Literature, Laura came to writing via working as an actress, a journalist and a copywriter – which in her words is ‘storytelling with a smidgen more truth’. Her foray into fiction writing began when her sons were little and followed a well trodden path that many authors will recognise. That of short stories and competitions interspersed with rejection slips among the successes. Finally she won a debut novel competition the led to the publication in 2011 of her first novel Bloodmining (republished as The Family Line). Public Battles, Private Wars was her second, followed by Redemption Song and Skin Deep.
As previously mentioned Public Battles…was republished as Crossing the Line earlier this year and is set in a fictional village in Yorkshire against the back drop of the Miner’s Strike in 1983. It was interesting to hear Laura talk about the research involved and the women she spoke to to get a real picture of what life was like and how it impacted communities, and in fact still does to this day. The extract that Laura read to us was certainly enough to keep her audience entertained and wanting more.
With a warm, engaging talk from Laura and a lovely buffet lunch, my festival got off to a grand start. Dare I mention I bought a book to add to the mountain?
Megan is a former foreign correspondent whose life is thrown into turmoil when her son is diagnosed with a terminal illness: a degenerative disease passed down the mother’s line. In order to save him, Megan will have to unearth the truth about her origins and about a catastrophic event from the past. She must confront the strained relationship she has with her mother, make sense of the family history that has been hidden from her all her life, and embark on a journey of self-discovery that stretches halfway around the world.
What we need most is often what we run from…
Winter. Dusk, in a shabby seaside town. A man stops for a young woman who has broken down. Both are hiding, neither are what they seem.
A grieving fiancé hiding from the world…
When Saffron de Lacy loses her fiancé and father in a tragic accident, she abandons a promising career in medicine and moves to a small Welsh town to care for her mother. Trapped by a lie, Saffron is unable move on, to live and love again.
A good man gone bad, eaten up by betrayal…
Joe Jones lives a solitary life on the edge of town, and he’d like to keep it that way. A skilled carpenter he repairs broken things but he cannot repair his broken life.
Love is what they need most, but will they risk it?
Art student and former model Diana has always been admired for her beauty, but what use are good looks when you want to shine for your talent? Insecure and desperate for inspiration, Diana needs a muse.
Facially disfigured four-year-old Cal lives a life largely hidden from the world. But he was born to be looked at and he needs love too. A chance encounter changes everything and Cal becomes Diana’s muse. But as Diana’s reputation develops and Cal grows up, their relationship implodes.
Both struggle to be accepted for what lies within.
Is it possible to find acceptance in a society where what’s on the outside counts for so much?
Yorkshire, 1983. Miner’s wife Mandy Walker lives a quiet life. She’s hopeless at everything apart from looking after her boys and baking. Life is fine. But she knows it could be better. Her husband’s a drinker, and her best friend Ruth is busy with a teaching career. Mandy dreams of a different life – an impossible, unachievable life. Only Ruth’s husband Dan believes in her but, after serving during the Falklands war, he has problems of his own.
When the men come out on strike, Mandy joins a support group. She finds friends and strength in surprising places. And secrets and enemies where she least expected them.
Mandy must decide which side of the line to stand on.
Thursday 6th June
Thursday saw me heading off for the evening to ABDA a lovely little coffee shop (with added cake!) in Northwich. This time to listen to author Caroline England.
I’ve met Caroline several times before and she has appeared on Five on Friday. So it was nice to go along to catch up as well as hear about her latest book Betray Her. The evening started though with Caroline revealing her journey to publication with her first book Beneath the Skin (rebranded as The Wife’s Secret). Her second book My Husband’s Lies became a Kindle top ten bestseller and Caroline revealed that the idea behind it grew from a secret revealed at a wedding! For those who don’t know, Caroline is a former, Manchester based divorce lawyer. Something she points out gave her a great insight into some of the darker aspects of relationship troubles. She began writing novels, short stories and poetry when she left the law in order to bring up her three daughters. Some of which were published in a wide variety of literary magazines and anthologies. Her novel Lie With Me Under the Toothbrush Tree was shortlisted for the Impress Prize 2015 and her novel Time is of the Essence was in the Pulp Idol 2016 finals and long listed for the UK Novel Writing Competition 2017.
Caroline read the prologue from Betray Her, a “dark” psychological thriller centred around a toxic friendship and a destructive love triangle. It is available to purchase now on e-book, and the paperback will follow in September 2019, though it is available to pre-order.
The evening seemed to finish all too quickly but it was another enjoyable event. I can happily say I didn’t buy any books, but that would be because I’ve already bought them!
(Click on image for non-affiliated Amazon Link)
Three women. Three secrets.
Antonia is beautiful and happily married. Her life is perfect. So why does she hurt herself when nobody’s watching?
Sophie is witty, smart and married to the best-looking man in town. She likes a drink, but who doesn’t?
Olivia is pretending to be a happy wife and mother. But her secret could tear her family apart.
Their lies start small, they always do. But if they don’t watch out, the consequences will be deadly.
On the afternoon of Nick and Lisa’s wedding, their close friend is found poised on a hotel window ledge, ready to jump.
As the shock hits their friendship group, they soon realise that none of them are being as honest with themselves – or with each other – as they think.
And there are secrets lurking that could destroy everything.
Best friends forever.
That’s the pact you made.
You’d do anything for her.
And you have.
She’s always had it all.
If you could take it for yourself . . . would you?
Friday 7th June
Friday found me at the Davenham Theatre to spend the evening in the company of playwright Jane James. I will admit my ignorance and say I hadn’t heard of Jane but the event brochure made her sound my sort of gal and I’m delighted to say she was. Jane’s writing has been compared to that of the sadly departed Victoria Wood. That said, Jane is no mere imitator, but I can see where the comparisons come from as she picks up on the foibles and minutae of conversations and relationships. She is warm and funny and yet her writing also has a poignancy – imagine Victoria Wood meets Alan Bennet. Jane’s talk explored her writings and how she gets her plays and sketches performed.
The evening was interspersed with some of Jane’s monologues and sketches ably performed by Sophie Osborne, members of the Davenham Players and even her own husband Nick.
Jane finished the evening reading a very personal, yet very funny piece based on her own breast cancer experience. It had me nodding my head in agreement and laughing. You may well wonder how breast cancer, or indeed any cancer can be funny but I assure you it can. It is not the condition that produces the laughter but rather some of the absurd and surreal situations that you find yourself in during treatment. It is those moments of humour that balance the darkness of the rest and keep you going – as well as creating a cornucopia of dinner-table anecdotes!! If you ever get the chance to see any of Jane’s work performed I urge you to go, I know I’ll be keeping my eye out going forward. What a perfect way end to end my first week of events.
Part 2 coming soon …