The Bodacious Book Club

I've having a week's holiday in Italy to try to get a shot of sunlight before the UK winter closes in on the non-existent northern summer we've just had. By a wonderful coincidence, a local book club was reading one of my books - The Centauress - and they asked me to come along and talk about it at the home of one of the members in the village of Montecarlo, near Lucca. However, this wasn't like any book club I've ever been to.  OK, there was wine - but a swimming pool with a view to long for?

and a wonderful Italian meal on the terrace?

The central character in the novel is based on a real person who died several years ago - a charismatic, complicated individual who fascinated me.  Meeting her changed my life and that of my partner Neil. Because of her, we now live partly in Italy.

Two other people at the book group discussion had known the same person so there was lively discussion about the difficulties of basing fictional characters on real people and whether the fictional portrait conveyed a more powerful sense of that person than could be achieved by straight biography.

The evening ended with a clothes swish - where we all stripped off and tried on each other's redundant clothes, and left looking totally different. You don't get that at my local library!

But there was also sadness as a backdrop to the evening.  Everyone in Italy is familiar, on a daily basis, with images of drowned adults and children washing up on the southern coast as boatloads of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa come to grief in the Mediterranean sea.  It makes our privileged lifestyle seem a guilty indulgence and the wine tastes very bitter.

Today I'm blogging over at Authors Electric on writing for children on contemporary issues. If you'd like to take a look at 'Writing to help children save the world', which features the work of children's author and illustrator Michael Foreman, please click on the link.


  1. Lovely event and I have just realised that I do not have this book of yours. I will download it without delay!

    1. Thank You June! and I think you should start a book club like this in Certaldo! It was such fun.


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