Grimaud, a beautiful, ancient village in the hills high above St.Tropez (about 12km away), is where we are based for a few days. The village is closed to traffic, has a wonderful bakery, several restaurants and bars, a handful of other shops,several art galleries, the Romanesque 12th century church of St.Michel and the ruins of an 11th century castle. The church is almost next door to our maison du village, so close in fact we could hear the congregation singing during the 10.00am service while eating our breakfast baguette on our balcony.
There is also a tabac in the village which has a large selection of English magazines and newspapers, (I guess it is a popular area for English tourists),so this morning I have been luxuriating with The Sunday Times.
Imagine my surprise when reading the 96 page Culture section to come across a two page story on Eleanor Catton which was headed Straight to the top of the class with a sub para heading - Eleanor Catton’s debut, set in a scandal-hit school and published when she was only 23, has divided critics. Is it the future of the novel or is she too smart for her own good, asks Ed Caesar.
And here is his opening para – There will be those of you who start The Rehearsal, only to throw it across the room after 10 pages. Such is the florid imagery and all-pervading precocity of Eleanor Catton’s debut novel. Stick with it. She may be only 23 years old now (and 20 when she began writing the novel), but this young New Zealander knows her business.
Caesar’s review is written around an interview with the author and is bound to be excellent publicity for the book just published in the UK by Granta. The original publisher is Victoria University Press who published it in NZ in 2008 and of course it is shortlisted for the Montana NZ Book Awards to be announced later this month.
Another book reviewed with a NZ connection, (albeit a somewhat slight one!), is Marina Lewycka’s third novel, We Are All Made of Glue – Fig Tree. She of course burst on the scene several years back with A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian and the reviewer, Lucy Atkins, suggests that as with that novel this new one deals with serious themes, (death, ageing, war, trauma, separation and love), examined with a light touch and a keen sense of the ridiculous.