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

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Another literary week

Well, I watched the men's singles final at the Us Open and didn't get to bed till 2am on Tuesday. But I'm glad I stayed up. Much as I admire the elegance of Roger Federer's play, I applaud Del Potro for the way he hung in and slogged it out to win decisively in the fifth set. But Federer will be back. Exciting times in tennis, men's and women's.

Later on Tuesday I went up to London, arriving in the pouring rain, in sandals, not having heard a weather forecast. It was Naomi Lewis's memorial event and the great and the good of the children's book world had turned out. Russell Hoban was there, looking incredibly frail and vulnerable, and Elaine Moss, who was always the softer critic compared with Naomi. And Brian Alderson, still going strong, who read Naomi's poem, Printemps, written earlier in 2009, her 98th year.

I got soaked again going home and shivered damply on the Oxford Tube. Back at 11.30, having to put all my clothes in the airing cupboard, and drink a hot posset.

Next day I had a running phone call with my new copy-editor at Bloomsbury going through the last (I hope) queries on City of Ships. We started at 10.30 am and finished at 3.30pm, with breaks for coffee, lunch and my paying the window-cleaner! But she was good -really good - and had brought herself up to speed on the series very quickly.

On Thursday I went to a Literary Quiz as part of the Woodstock Festival, with husband, oldest daughter and another writer friend. We all love quizzes and are quite competitive, so were pleased to come joint 3rd out of twelve teams. It was quite hard and we shall do even better next year! We called ourselves the Mything Link, which we thought was quite clever but the quizmaster (James Walton from Radio 4's The Write Stuff) kept pronouncing it to rhyme with "scything"!

Yesterday we had to send poems for a birthday album for a close friend whose birthday and party fall while we're away in Athens next week. I chose Louis MacNeice's Sunlight on the Garden and husband Waller's Go Lovely Rose, which was one of our courtship poems.

I finished The Book Thief and must own myself to be rather disappointed. It has such a huge reputation and has sold so many copies, that I expected better. It was very annoyingly written and I simply didn't believe in the character who was supposed to have survived 2 years in Dachau.

Am now reading Michelle Lovric's The Undrowned Child and then I will be into holiday reading. We're off to Athens on Tuesday for a week so I shall see lots of antiquities.

On matters non-literary, middle daughter and partner have had an offer accepted on a flat and are in the thick of all that goes with first-time-buying. Thank goodness for Phil and Kirsty's book, which we gave daughter years ago; she has been in training a long time!

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