I recently read Elizabeth Jenkins’ wonderful memoir The View from Downshire Hill (published in 2004, but inexplicably difficult to find – I read it in the Bodleian). Sooner or later I might write about it at greater length, but for now I will simply mention that it is a wonderful source of literary anecdotes, and often quite funny. Here’s a bit I thought you might like, about her novel The Tortoise and the Hare.
This was, in terms of financial success, my best novel, but I encountered some severe, personal criticism from readers who felt that the interest of the book was too much confined to one class, not to say one income bracket. I was told by a young man, a student in a university society to which I had been asked to give a talk, that what was wrong with the book was that it wasn’t about anything that really mattered. As I felt that the suffering caused by the break-up of a marriage was something that did matter, I asked him, in surprise, what were some of the things that really mattered? After a pause, he said: “Well, trade unions.”
- Everybody wants to be a cat…
- The Joy of New Bookshelves