by Rana Asfour
In two days' time (on July 1) the winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize for 2015 will be revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason, UK. The three shortlisted titles chosen from a longlist of ten books published in the last year by British and Irish debut novelists include ' by Emma Healey (Viking), 'by Carys Bray (Hutchinson) and ' by Claire Fuller (Fig Tree).
In a press release, Chair of judges Louise Doughty noted: 'It’s fascinating to see that each writer arrived here from slightly unorthodox beginnings and it’s a testament to The Desmond Elliott Prize that it identifies and rewards the very best new writing talent, whatever the author’s date of birth. Our shortlist shows that there’s no age limit on being a sparkling new arrival on the literary scene'.
Claire Fuller, 48, originally studied sculpture at Winchester School of Art, specialising in wood and stone carving, then ran her own marketing company for 23 years. She began writing fiction in her 40s, spurred on by National Novel Writing Month (or “NaNoWriMo”), an online phenomenon which challenges participants to write a novel in a month.
Emma Healey, the youngest of the shortlisted authors at 29, took home a C in GCSE English in her school days, but, like Fuller, brings an artistic background to her writing – her first degree was in bookbinding, after which she worked in an art gallery. She eventually enrolled in the UEA Creative Writing Course before 'Elizabeth is Missing' went on to sell at auction and become a bestseller.
Carys Bray, 39, has spoken openly about the restrictions that kept her from writing until recently. Just five years ago she and her husband decided to remove their family of six from the Mormon faith. She now also teaches Creative Writing and is completing a PhD.
In a review I wrote about 'A Song for Issy Bradley' just before it hit the shelves, I described it Carys Bray book as a stunning heart-warming story about loss that is brave, even funny and so heartbreaking in its sincerity that you'll need to keep that tissue box handy. In short, this is a book about a family, any family, who has to conjecture enough faith to miraculously resurrect itself from the abyss after having lost one of its own.
For the full BookFabulous review, click HERE & to read an excerpt, click HERE
This is about elderly Maud who although is slowly losing her grip on every day life as she battles with Alzheimer's, yet remains consistently insistent that her best friend Elizabeth is missing and in danger. Ignoring everyone's advice to the contrary, Maud, armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself resolves to discover the truth and save her friend. Her quest opens up a seventy-year-old mystery. One that everyone has forgotten about. Everyone, except Maud.
To read a review and an excerpt, click HERE.
This is the story of eight-year-old Peggy Hillcoat, whose father James, a survivalist, kidnaps her to live in a forest and convinces her that the whole world is no more and everyone on it has disappeared, including her home in London and her mother. As time goes on, Peggy comes to discover for herself the events that brought her to the forest and finds a way to return to civilisation. After Peggy's return, her mother begins to learn the truth of her escape, of what happened to James on the last night out in the woods, and of the secret that Peggy has carried with her ever since.
To read an excerpt, click HERE & for a review, click HERE
'A Song for Issey Bradley' has been selected as one of the titles for this year's Richard & Judy Book Club Summer Read. I am thrilled by the news as I was privileged to read this debut novel way before it hit the shelves and I loved it. It has since been shortlisted for the 2014 COSTA First Novel Award. This is a superb book about the resilience of humans against the odds that is deeply touching and so well-written.
For the BookFabulous review, click HERE.