In my July newsletter I describe my humble contribution to this month’s Wexford Literary Festival and review recent novels from two fellow members of the Irish Historical Novel Society: Derville Murphy’s A Perfect Copy and Katie Hutton’s Annie of Ainsworth’s Mill.
Yesterday evening I went to an opening of the extension to my favourite local independent bookshop, Red Books, in Wexford town. There was a great crowd and a fantastic atmosphere, with speeches and cutting of the red ribbon followed by music and spoken word. Wally O’Neill, the owner, has done huge work supporting local writers including launching two periodicals and publishing novels and poetry.
Wally O’Neill speaking
We were within a sprawling labyrinth of books: new, second-hand and antiquarian – I’d want to be locked in overnight!
When I lived in the suburbs of Birmingham my nearest bookshop was Waterstone’s (a chain) in the city centre. I’m so fortunate to have this within a 15 minute drive, as well as a number of other bookshops in the town including The Book Centre, Reader’s Paradise, Selskar Bookshop, and Byrne’s. Wexford’s emulating Hay-on-Wye, and will rise to fame for its bookshops and literary festival.
In this dual timeline historical novel two different people bring identical 19th century portraits to an auction. But is one of them original and the other a copy? Which one is which? Who is the beautiful woman in the painting, and what is her story?
In A PERFECT COPY Derville Murphy displays her expertise in art history as well as a flair for bringing to life the social history of another age. She explores the Jewish community of the 19th century, starting in what is now Ukraine, and bringing the reader to Vienna and London, while the contemporary thread of her story is set in Dublin. Both threads of her intriguing novel explore the fractured intricacies of family relationships, ending on a romantic note.
The book launch for A PERFECT COPY forms part of the Wexford Literary Arts Festival (link) and takes place at 11.30 on Saturday 2nd July in the Book Centre, Main St, Wexford.