Mary's musings

Mary Hoffman, author of over 90 children's books, including the Stravaganza series and Amazing Grace, has begun a web journal which will be updated roughly once a week. You can read more on

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A load of bunko

Well, part of the plan worked; I've done the line edits but not yet written the new material as I had to stop and read The Falconer's Knot proofs for I hope the last time. These were the revises of the revises and I've lost count of how many stages there have been. It should be the cleanest text in the world by the time it's published next April.

But at the same time, the bound proofs came, looking very handsome, with a bundle of matching bookmarks. And it has found another foreign edition. I had a e-mail yesterday about Japanese editions of Stravaganza. They want to bring out paperbacks while the hardbacks are still in print. The strange thing was that this was described as a "bunko" edition and neither I, my agent, editor or indeed the rights editor passing on the message had any idea what this was!

Well apparently it's a sort of small paperback like a Penguin. Perhaps the Japanese would be equally puzzled by our casual references to these birds. Anyway we've said yes to the bunkos.

A group of SAS members got together for lunch in Oxford on Saturday to welcome Dennis Hamley to our midst. Oxford that is, not the SAS - he has just moved here from Hertford. We were ten in all (another meal for ten in an Italian restaurant in Oxford - this is getting to be a habit) and had a good time swapping book news and eating interesting choices of food. It's nice to be offered a vegetarian option without goat cheese!

This week I saw At Home in Renaissance Italy at the V and A and was enchanted by the split open pomander and the jewelled pine marten mask. I read City of Falling Angels by John Berendt, whose Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was such a fascinating book. This, though eminently readable, isn't quite as remarkable. Though full of obvious Venetian "characters" there's no-one as striking as the Lady Chablis and no murder. There is arson - the burning down of the Fenice in 1996 - and all the machinations and convolutions that had to be gone through before a conviction. And in vain, since one of the two arsonists is still at large (he jumped bail) and they were probably pawns anyway.


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