Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Monday, June 29, 2015
Penelope Mortimer – return of the original angry young woman
As her 1962 novel The Pumpkin Eater becomes a Penguin Classic, Rachel Cooke re-examines the life of Penelope Mortimer, who tackled difficult subjects in a style that still sounds vital today
On 27 March 1956, Penelope Mortimer, a 37-year-old novelist and mother of six, took up her pen at home in Swiss Cottage, north London, and opened her diary. “Perhaps soon I shall begin to write another book,” she scribbled. “But there’s no real confidence. I’m frightened of being smart, of not feeling sufficiently, of not being – do I mean sincere? I don’t know. I sit in the chair and smoke and think, I can’t sit here much longer; and go on sitting. I drive to John Barnes [a nearby department store] and walk around the bales of material, even sometimes feeling it, touching it; thinking, I know quite well I don’t want to, shan’t buy any… Some day I shall write about this.” According to Valerie Grove, the biographer of Mortimer’s second husband, John Mortimer, later she returned to this entry and annotated it with two words: Pumpkin Eater. More