Sunday 12th August
Imogen Hermes Gowar & Kirsty Logan: The New Magical Realists.
Chaired by Peggy Hughes
**** (Four Stars)
Book Festival novice Gowar, with her debut novel The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, was every inch the professional writer alongside accomplished author Kirsty Logan. I was surprised to find that this was her first novel as she seemed completely at ease on stage and spoke to the audience as though they were her guests.
Expertly chaired by the inimitable Peggy Hughes, the authors were paired for the mermaid connection in both their novels. The Gloaming, Logan’s fourth book and second novel has been well-received. Having read almost the entire book, it is her most masterful work to date, in my opinion. I loved The Gracekeepers but she has developed considerably as a writer since the publication of that novel. Confidence glows between the pages of The Gloaming providing a magical treat for the modern-day dreamer.
It tells the story of Mara and her family on a remote, fairytale inspired island. Kirsty captures both the beauty and the danger of the sea and landscape beautifully. Clearly drawn characters are compelling as they lead us through their own tale. Logan is an acclaimed LGBTQ writer, exploring themes of love and otherness within her work. She is a jewel in contemporary literature, an arena in which we are still under-represented despite the political and social breakthroughs of recent years.
Gowar’s novel is more historical fiction with a hint of magical realism throughout. I have not yet read her book, but it is on my ever-expanding reading list. Imogen spent long months immersed in extensive research for the book. It was important for her to give accurate information about the period, from the politics of the time down to the finest detail about fashion. Very much a novel exploring a woman’s place in the eighteenth century, the themes are relevant to contemporary readers still facing some of the struggles of our predecessors.