Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Edinburgh Book festival - author event - Emylia Hall

by Maryom

Although this was actually a joint event with Lucy Ellman, I have to admit that for me Emylia Hall was the big draw. I totally fell in love with her first novel The Book of Summers, a coming of age story set in the long, hot summers of Hungary, and was disappointed to miss her at last year's Edbookfest. As it happened, this year's event sold out the day after I bought my ticket, so I nearly missed out again!

Emylia was in Edinburgh this time to promote her new novel A Heart Bent Out Of Shape, out officially in September but copies were available in the Festival bookshop. "A Heart Bent Out of Shape is the story of a first love, a terrible tragedy, a snow-filled paradise; a year that will never be forgotten." says the Amazon blurb and - in slightly less flowery words - this was the impression I got from Emylia's description of it. Hadley Dunn has led an unremarkable life with no great traumas or joys - until she decides to spend a year studying in Lausanne. There she forms strong friendships and falls in love but seems to be heading towards tragedy and disappointment. The feeling of place played an important part of the appeal of the Book of Summers and seems to do so again in Heart Bent Out of Shape. Hungarian heat is replaced with Swiss snow; lush green countryside by a bustling, vibrant city. I can't wait to read it!
As is usual at such events, things kicked off with readings from the authors' novels - with a slight difference. Lucy Ellman's latest novel, Mimi, is told in the first person from the perspective of an eminent, rather jaded-sounding, male plastic surgeon - so the 'taster' was read by the author's husband to give a more authentic flavour. These readings were followed by a discussion between the authors and the chair, and then questions from the audience. I got the impression that Emylia Hall was the lesser known author of the two; that the majority of people were there to see Lucy Ellman and certainly had more questions for her. Despite being on a Richard and Judy reading list, I don't think many people have discovered Emylia Hall - and I think they should!

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