The kitchen fills with black smoke. Alec is roasting a chicken for his mates – as you do – but the marmalade catches fire in the oven, and Eleanor rushes in to investigate. Thus begins this long-distance love story which takes us from Cardiff University to Nigeria and Rome, and over the decades to Copenhagen, Iceland, Los Angeles, the Grand Canyon, Kolkata, Darjeeling, Melbourne, South Africa and more. It reaches a climax when Eleanor is shot trying to escape an armed uprising in Lesotho, and the conclusion resolves the underlying story of Norman’s battle up the spine of Italy to Monte Cassino during the Second World War.
Some Waterstones bookstores will order this book for you in person if you don't want to go online.
Plenty of other online stores sell it - such as Barnes and Noble, Foyles, and others.
An intriguing mixture of eleven stories, all in Leela Dutt’s inimitable style – beautifully illustrated by Kate Attfield, as many reviewers have noticed. Some are short and funny, others poignant: widows losing their grandchildren, a daughter burying her father and dealing with a domineering mother. The narrators are very different – one of them isn’t human at all, but he still strikes a chord with us. Time travellers visit Hans Andersen’s Copenhagen and the crematorium in Golders Green.
Cruise missiles in the 1980s are the ominous background to this novel, set amongst Quakers in a university city, but Leela Dutt is more interested in personal tensions – tunnel vision leading to hereditary blindness, neighbours who persecute children, burst pipes, sweet chestnuts, and funerals. Like the squares on Rubik’s cube, the pattern becomes entangled: a foreign submarine is sighted in the Bristol Channel on the day a child is knocked off his bike, a peace camp is attacked as an old man lies ill in hospital.
Availability: there are still a few copies left so if you want one for £5 post free, email us.
First published in 1996, this is an anthology of eight short stories involving fictional contemporary Quakers. The stories are all written in the first person and are told by a wide variety of men and women, often outsiders, ranging in age from 22 to 90. They are set in Canada and Wales, in England and Outer Space.
Kate Attfield’s line drawings add enormous charm to this book. My new collection of short stories, Fresh Beginnings, features updated versions of I Shall Spend My Pension on Brandy and The Ocarina, which first appeared in Kingfisher Blue.
The original CHAT – from back in 1996; yes we did have AI back then! This novel claims to be written by a computer program and is addressed to a baby born in 2000. It’s a powerful story of one family throughout the twentieth century, involving an Indian home in Kolkata, a Jewish dentist in Nuremberg in the 1930s and an AI research unit in a contemporary British university.The story moves from Golders Green via South Wales to Los Angeles. A Quaker business meeting in Germany in 1936 is interwoven with a Quaker weekend gathering of the mid-1990s as two parallel storylines starting at either end of the century converge.
Leela’s YouTube channel has short video in which she describes this book and quotes a review of it – click here to watch it: