The Telegraph Magazine published a gorgeously illustrated feature article about the book this Saturday, 30th June. Many thanks to my editor, Francesca Ryan, for all her hard work and patience getting this to press.
A Memory From Sixty Years Ago
The article was in fact an essay they asked me to write about the backstory to the book. Here is the opening:
It is almost sixty years ago, but the memory of that summer afternoon in the garden of a house in in Buckinghamshire still shines in my mind, as if it were yesterday. Whichert House was named after the local word for ‘white earth,’ the mixture of lime and straw used in the construction of houses in this part of Buckinghamshire. It was built in the 1920’s by Charles Preston, a lawyer in London, and it was his widow, Aunt Dorothy, as my mother called her, though we were not related by blood, whom we were visiting that day. I was nine years old.
Childhood memories have no background, only a foreground. So when I close my eyes I don’t see the house, just pools of blue shadow; a circle of grass covered in a picnic rug; a garden table set with tea things; and Aunt Dorothy, a bird-like creature with a gardener’s tan and cornflower blue eyes, sitting upright in a whicker chair, with a straw hat on her head.
Even after all these years, the brief time my mother and I spent in that garden – and we would never go again – is still bathed in a special light, as though lit from within by love. The way Aunt Dorothy’s eyes twinkled at me; the way my mother spoke to her. Even the sounds – the cooing of a pigeon; the buzz of a bumblebee – seemed to have a special resonance, as though a current of emotion passed through the air, from the two women to me and back again, like some invisible force.