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3 Festivals for 2024


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March 2022: Currently Reading

By - 31 March 2022 - 20:25pm

Find out what books we've been reading this month

If you blinked and missed it, that’s how we feel about March too! It’s been a very exciting month here at Derby Book Festival HQ. We have now officially launched our Summer Festival programme, with tickets going on general sale from Wednesday 6th April. If you want to know who’s coming, check out the website (see the link below!). And if you want to book ahead of everyone else, there’s still time to become a Festival Friend and access priority bookings before Wednesday.

We’ve had another great month of reading across the team, including our wonderful board of trustees.

Gini, Festival Manager: Still Life by Sarah Winman

Spanning four decades and set in the East End of London and Florence in Italy, Still Life is an epic tale of love, loss, friendship, families, and beauty. A chance encounter between Evelyn, a 64-year-old art historian and Ulysses, a young British soldier sets in motion a story of intertwined lives filled with humour, sadness, compassion and, above all, love in its many forms and with a cast of memorable characters. It breaks your heart and puts it back together again.

Sarah Ward, Derby Book Festival Trustee and Interviewer: Violets by Alex Hyde

I've been reading Violets by Alex Hyde. It's the story of two women at the end of World War Two, one a single woman who has discovered she is pregnant and the other a recently bereaved mother. It's the story of how these two women's lived entwine and is loosely based on the experience of the author's father. Alex will be appearing at the Derby Book Festival.

Fiona Apthorpe, Derby Book Festival Trustee: A Thing of Beauty by Peter Fiennes

I am reading A Thing of Beauty by Peter Fiennes. An adventure around Greece and the myths that originated there. A classical travelogue…perfect preparation of my summer holiday there!

Keith McLay, Derby Book Festival Trustee and Interviewer: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

In early March, I read Marina Lewycka’s A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. This self-consciously comic novel might not have been thought an apposite read given the current war in Ukraine but through its humour, the plot’s unravelling of family secrets and narratives in the context of the tempestuous 20th century European History, it offers the perspective of a proud and noble Ukraine whose citizens stand sovereign with an acute sense of their historical identity and individuality; in truth, therefore, the perfect antidote to the contemporary conflict.

Sue Wall, Derby Book Festival Trustee and Interviewer: Storyland by Dr Amy Jeffs

My book this month is Storyland by Dr Amy Jeffs - a new mythology of Britain. It is a fabulous book, entertainingly written and brilliantly illustrated with linocuts which bring the characters to life. It is a book to dip into - you don't need to read it from cover to cover, and you are taken back to early Britain, a land of myths and legends and are led through history by stories up to the time of the Norman Conquest. Genuinely an escapist read, and yet you emerge feeling educated and informed.

Keith Donald, Derby Book Festival Trustee and Interviewer:

The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan

Ms. Fagan has had three novels published, each to great acclaim, and this is the second book written by her which I have read. At first glance, the main character, a teenager from a broken and disturbed background, is not an engaging personality as she comes to terms with her life in a residential home for children. However, the author allows us to experience the challenges of her life and during the course of the novel I began to want her to win against all of the odds. Read the novel to find out whether Anais makes it in the end. You will not be disappointed.

Narconomics - How to Run a Drug Cartel by Tom Wainwright

The author is a journalist with “The Economist”. He spent time as a journalist in South America and during the course of his work Wainwright began to understand that the international trade in drugs has a similar business model to many multinational trading companies, with the same problems: quality of supply, challenges over procurement, protection of profit market, sourcing agents who could be trusted. It’s an interesting read, and may challenge the reader’s perception of how cartels operate.

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

Ferrante’s themes in this novel are the inter-relationships between members of the same family and a young female adult’s struggles to come to terms with the complexity of her surroundings. It is set in Naples. I hope that the reader will be as fascinated as I was by the dialogue and the complex relationships which impact the leading character as she confronts various conflicts in her life. The dialogue and characterisation are outstanding. Ferrante’s latest publication, “In The Margins”, is on order and I can hardly wait to read that work.

Strategic Tendering for Professional Services by Matthew Fuller & Tim Nightingale

This is the second book published by those leading authors, Fuller and Nightingale. Recently published, it is destined to reach the top of the bestseller lists at Amazon, “The Guardian” and Waterstones. It is a fascinating insight into how a professional firm (such as a legal firm or an accountancy practice) can work more efficiently and effectively to win additional business; in short, “win more, lose less”. The writing is crisp, engaging and uplifting. Recommended. (The fact that I am mentioned in the acknowledgements and several times in the book did not influence my judgement in any way.)

Felicity, Festival Administrator: Careless by Kirsty Capes

Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Careless had been on my radar for a while. Not just because of the eye-catching cover, but the story sounded intriguing. Bess is 15 when she realises she is pregnant. She’s not spoken to ‘Boy’ in weeks and things at home are tricky (to say the least). Bess lives with Lisa, Rory, and their daughter, Clarissa. But she isn’t related to them by blood, and they haven’t adopted her. She’s in long-term foster care and things are tense.

Bess is a great character. I’m invested in her and care about what happens to her. I love her best friend, Eshal, too. Their stories are complex, but they have this bond. I don’t know how it’s going to go, but I know one thing… This isn’t a love story.

Have you read any of the books featured in this instalment of Currently Reading? We’d love to hear from you via our social media channels!

You can view our full Festival line up via the website ahead of tickets going on sale Wednesday 6 April:

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