This wonderful piece of fiction won the Pulitzer Prize in 1995. It chronicles the life of Daisy Goodwill, which spans most of the twentieth century. Each chapter jumps forward a decade, through her childhood, marriage, motherhood, and later life, combining reflection on these broader themes of her life with insight towards the other banal moments that also make up living. The narrative is interspersed with photos, letters, even shopping lists, and we see Daisy through the eyes of those around her, providing fascinating insight into the notion of identity. If you want to study a master of inventive narrative and character construction, read this book!col-md-2
In the world of blogging, few are as engaging or endearing as Kerri Sackville. Over the past few years, she has built up a huge following thanks to her comic, candid style, and her devotion to Simon Baker and Nutella. Today sees the release of Kerri’s first book, When My Husband Does the Dishes….a memoir of marriage and motherhood, and if you’ve read her blog you’ll already know that we’re in for a treat. I’m delighted that she agreed to answer a few of my hard-hitting questions…
1. Why did you decide to write When My Husband Does the Dishes?
I really believed that there was a gap in the market place for a tell-all memoir of marriage and motherhood. Nearly everything that’s been written on these subjects to date has been didactic, or really grim, or really flip, and I felt that I could write about it with honesty and humour. And I had masses of material. My life is really, really funny, in a tragic kind of way.
2. What do you find essential to sustain or encourage your writing brain? (e.g. food, drink, music, etc.). Do you have any other writing habits?
Mess and chaos. Truly. The more I have to do, the more creative I am. Sit me down at a neat desk with all the housework done and the evening meal prepared and I am likely to go blank. (Of course, this is purely hypothetical, it has never happened.) Sit me down at a desk piled with bills to pay and papers to file, surrounded by laundry to sort and groceries to unpack, and I can write for hours.
3. If you could live the life of any fictional character (book or film), who would you be and why?
Julia Robert’s character at the end of Notting Hill. A Hollywood superstar with a gorgeous, down-to-earth devoted husband and a baby on the way??? It doesn’t get better than that.
4. If you weren’t a writer, what else would you like to be?
A Young Talent Time team member, but sadly the time for that has long since passed. Seriously, though, I’ve tried a dozen different careers and none of them stuck. The only thing I’ve ever loved doing is writing.
5. Who inspires you in life?
I’m inspired by brilliant writers, particularly novelists as I have NO idea how they do it. How do you make up a world inside your own head? I’m also constantly inspired by people with a broad general knowledge – writers, journos, my husband… It makes me want to go out and learn things, which I try to do until I get distracted by the laundry.
I would wake up in a gorgeous hotel and call my kids who are having a lovely weekend at their Nana’s. My hubby and I would go for breakfast in a nice café, then I’d go shopping in several gorgeous boutiques with the hundreds of dollars that magically appeared in my pocket. We’d have a light lunch then go back to the hotel where I’d sleep all afternoon as my husband reads the papers. Then I’d spend an hour or two on Twitter and Facebook, and then we’d head out for drinks and a nice dinner, followed by an ice cream on the way back to the hotel. We’d get into bed, watch The Big Chill again, have some quick but multiple-orgasmic sex, then sleep for another 12 hours. Bliss.
7. You’re about to get parachuted on to a desert island for a month, Survivor style – and you’re allowed to take three books. What would you take and why?
1. Dale Carnegie’s How To Stop Worrying And Start Living, as I would be absolutely panic stricken and would need help calming my anxiety.
2. Garp by John Irving, which is my all-time favourite book; I’ve only read it about 100 times so I could easily read it 100 more.
3. My friend Kylie Ladd’s new novel Last Summer. It’s not being released till July, but I’m sure if she knew I was being dropped on a desert island, she’d get me an advance copy.
8. What have you learned during the course of writing and publishing When My Husband Does the Dishes?
EVERYTHING. I knew nothing about editing or publishing. Nothing! I didn’t know how a book was pitched or sold. I didn’t understand how the editing process worked. I had no idea how a cover was designed, what a normal print run was, what was involved in publicity and marketing, what an author talk is about, what one signs on a book! NOTHING. It’s been an amazing learning curve.
9. What do you hope people take away from reading your book?
I want people to read my book and say ‘YES! That’s exactly what it’s like!’ To know they are not alone in their challenges. To know that they are normal. To know that their partners and kids are normal. And to have a big laugh at me and at themselves. Because we’re all going through the same thing.
10. What’s next on the horizon for you?
I’m going to keep blogging, and I’ve started writing my next book, which is not about marriage or motherhood! And I am very open to other offers. Johnny Young – I’m talking to YOU!
Thanks, Kerri, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. Wishing you every success with your book, your blog, and your future writing.
Lexie Sinclair’s life revolves around the Soho art scene of the 1950s, whereas in the present day Elina is struggling with the demands of motherhood. But despite living decades apart, these two women are connected in ways neither could ever have expected.
I have long been a fan of Maggie O’Farrell, as her first book, After You’d Gone, ranks as one of my all-time favourites. In this, her latest work, her writing is mesmeric, and I was captivated from start to finish. Such overt manipulation of narrative voice is difficult to achieve without losing the reader, but O’Farrell is fearless, and as a result The Hand that First Held Mine is a wonderful, unique piece of fiction.col-md-2