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The four day Chiddingstone Literary Festival in Kent took place over the first May bank holiday weekend, while slightly chillier in temperature than last year, the warmth of welcome was as lovely as ever. This really is a gorgeous festival, the surroundings are obviously stunning and a wide variety of subjects and authors attend. While adults are well catered for on the Saturday and Sunday, a family day takes place on the Monday which includes a theatre performance and workshops (this year with Aardman Animations), and they hold a schools' day on the Tuesday, so there really is something for everyone.
LoveReading sponsored several events including Sarah Salway's writing workshops, and the debut novelists' panel which was chaired by Cathy Rentzenbrink. The debut novelists' panel was rather special, I have read all three of these very different novels, and can highly recommend them. Cathy Rentzenbrink asked searching questions, and the journey to being published in each case was fascinating. I always love to hear authors talk about their books and listen to them read their own words; you can sometimes hear them differently to how you yourself received them. It can open your heart and mind in a different way. The panel featured:
Harriet Tyce with Blood Orange. A dark, confident and penetrating psychological thriller set during a murder case... clear, raw and real, this is one seriously addictive book.
Elizabeth Macneal with The Doll Factory. This is an eloquent, thrilling treat of a read set during the Great Exhibition in 1850. While disturbing and deliciously foreboding, it is an exquisite and incredibly rewarding read.
Richard Lumsden with The Six Loves of Billy Binns. I have fallen in love with Billy as he looks back over his life. Emotional, full of laughter and tears, it is also beautifully readable too.
I attended another event on the Sunday, featuring Anna Pasternak talking about her new book, Untitled: The Real Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor. Anna quite simply blew me away with her talk, so natural and passionate, she held the audience with every single word. Actor Geoffrey Streatfeild read beautifully, he became Edward and Wallis and I felt every single emotion. There were surprises in store, including raised eyebrows and heartfelt moments and I now can not wait to read Anna’s book.
I was also one of the judge’s for the children’s short story competition and was fortunate enough to read some beautiful writing in both the 7-9 and 10-13 age group categories. The winning authors took home a goody bag, their entries were read out, and their stories will be featured in the gorgeous Scoop magazine.
I really do recommend keeping an eye out for next year, and booking yourself some tickets for a smashing day out.