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

Friday, April 20, 2007

Perfect day

We had our Easter picnic in the ruins of old Minster Lovell Hall - very picturesque and the four of us had a huge spread. I used my new SatNav to get us to friends in Bristol on Easter Monday (cheating really, since we knew the way). I chose the voice of Tim - very patient - and Stevie is already jealous of my unquestioning obedience to this new man in my life.

I felt as if I were in a film about a writer last Saturday. First we heard my radio interview on One Word radio and then someone came to interview me for a PhD dissertation and the Times carried a favourable review of The Falconer's Knot. But the real stuff was going up to the St Bride's print library in London and seeing a real wooden press and the type. Brilliant! This is all research for City of Secrets.

The next day I met my script conmsultant/writer friend in Oxford and as well as doing a cafe crawl, we went to the Botanical Gardens. I've lived here six years and not been in them before. They are TINY compared with Cambridge's but have a very nice hothouse, where we saw the sort of plants that grow in her garden in Australia.

i was giving a talk to librarians in Birmingham the next day and really had to wrench myself off the swingseat in the sun but enjoyed it when I got there. The NEC makes the Bologna Book Fair, where I'm going on Monday, look quite small.

Today is my birthday and it began before breakfast with an hour long telephone interview, in Italian, with a young journalist on a newspaper in Gubbio. We ended up talking about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell! I then finished an essay for my Italian class and went with husband and youngest daughter to The Trout near Oxford (star of many an Inspector Morse episode) for lunch. Two beautiful peacocks displayed for me, one on the roof, and the manager gave us free glasses of champagne. The sun shone, the weir rushed, the peacocks screamed and it was wonderful.

Last week I saw the Canaletto in England exhibition in Dulwich. It is quite extraordinary how he made the Thames look like the Grand Canal! There was a beautiful view showing about three dozen spires on Wren churches, most of which were destroyed or damaged by bombs in WW2. He is a great virtuoso of detail but he doesn't move me.

And at last saw "The Queen" in the theatre in Chipping Norton (no popcorn). Terrific performances but I HATED the stuff about the stag - so sentimental and so hypoctitical. She isn't against hunting in general is she? And the portrayal of the Blairs as lower middle class was farcical - their home and her poor domestic skills (burnt fish fingers, I ask you!) I did enjoy it but it wasn't really a story - we knew the dramatic high points and all the stuff in between was speculative and not all of it convincing. (Though I bet Alistair Campbell was just like that).