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

Monday, October 08, 2007


My Italian class started up again this week - we have THIRTEEN members. unfortunately we are doing more 19th century stories which are LONG.

We had the launch party for Princess Grace in a downstairs room at a restaurant in Soho serving Italian tapas - very nice. I was staying at a weird hotel on Gower Street where lots of things were got wrong and I was on the very top floor - no lift. Must have been good for my heart, especially when I chose the wrong staircase (there were 5) after the Grace party!

Then to a wonderful prep school in Dulwich early next morning, where the IT didn't work properly but the boys were lovely. They are obviouslt taught history well well and got the di Chimici/de' Medici parallel straightaway.Then on to the Guardian award party, where I didn't get the prize but there were only four books on the shortlist. And I had a huge group of supporters from Bloomsbury, bless them.

Sunday was the Cheltenham Festival and a panel on historical fiction with Sally Gardner and Julia Golding. The very good green room provioded not only tea and scones before but a proper hot meal afterwards.

I saw the film of Atonement with two friends, since Stevie didn't want to go. It was a pretty faithful rendering of the book - which I did not particularly admire - and visually exquisite. Wonderful performances by James McEvoy and, briefly, Vanessa Redgrave. Even old Keira Knightly wasn't too bad. One of my friends had been to drama school with Benedict Cumberbatch, who played the villain. But the trouble with McEwan is that he isn't complicated enough for me - the plots always hinge on one event. And I simply didn't believe in the switched letters or the crudely expressed one.

I at last finished La Storia, which was both impressive and depressing. Reading the introduction afterwards I found that La Morante invented the whole thing as back story from a newspaper cutting. Also read L'Assedip di Tortona (The siege of Tortona) by Niccolo Tommaseo, this week's 19th century story. Only it wasn't a story really - more of a historical account of a terrible piece of cruelty by Frederick Barbarossa.


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