IMG_4562 (2)IMG_4567 (2)Last week I had the pleasure of doing a reading from The Very White Of Love for the Waverton Good Read Award. I am delighted to have been long-listed for this unique award, which is given by members of the community of the village of Waverton, near Chester. Here are a few photos from the event.
The award has a fascinating history. An article by Susannah Hickling about Le Prix De La Cadière was the starting point for the Waverton Good Read Award in 2003. Francois Dufour, the doctor of La Cadière D’Azur, (a Provencal village – population about 4000) had speculated that reading a good book might be as useful to some of his patients as the medication he would normally prescribe. So he set up an annual prize for the French debut novel of the year, which attracted most votes from the readers in the village. The idea was a great success and Le Prix De La Cadière was born.
Wendy Smedley and Gwen Goodhew decided to try to replicate this idea in Waverton, a village of 2000 outside Chester. They set out to find fifty or more debut novels – first adult novels written by British citizens and published in the previous twelve months. The aim was not only to stimulate reading in the village but also to provide encouragement to British writers. It took some persistence to identify and then gather several copies of each book, although publishers became more and more helpful as they realised what was going on. Even more remarkably, more than 50 people from in and around the village were recruited to read and review the novels.
The rest is history – it worked! In its first year (2003-2004) Waverton villagers read 63 books and in July chose their first winner – Mark Haddon for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. He was presented with his award at a dinner in the village. This award dinner is now a regular feature of the Chester Literature Festival every October and is always sold out.
At different times, small groups from Styal Prison, the hamlet of Bickerton and our sponsors have augmented Waverton readers. Their contributions have been very welcome.
Regular meetings are held throughout the year at which debut and other novelists are invited to talk about their work. These meetings are well-attended and provide opportunities for book lovers to share their interest with others as well as a platform for new writers.