Monday 27 May 2013

The Fowey Festival (formerly the Du Maurier)

I spent a fascinating week at the Fowey Festival of Words an Music (or the Du Maurier Festival - as it used to be called). Organised by Jonathon Aberdeen, it takes place each year in early May in Fowey, Cornwall, and attracts international interest.

The first talk I attended was Liz Fenwick on the Sunday afternoon. Liz gave an interesting talk about her journey to publication, and of her new title The Cornish Affair. An intriguing, poignant romance which I'm thoroughly enjoying reading. How she fits everything in to her peripatetic life style I cannot imagine.

I particularly enjoyed the the next which was by Sarah Dunant about her new historical novel on the Borgias: Blood and Beauty. As usual, Sarah was bubbling with energy and enthusiasm, and full of intriguing facts about this controversial family.

Judith Mackrell talked to Helen Taylor about The Flappers, a biography about six extraordinary women: Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Tamara de Lempicka. For anyone who loves the twenties, or wishes to write about this period, this book is a must have.

I was fascinated to hear an interview with Hilary Boyd in which she talked about her unexpected bestseller, Thursdays in the Park. A love story that features a grandmother as the heroine. She'd suffered a number of rejections before this book was published by Quercus and during its first year as a paperback had rather poor sales. But then the ebook took off, she has no idea why but thinks it might have something to do with age of the heroine - an over-60s woman actually enjoying sex. Shock - horror! It is now to be made into a film.


There are always a few talks about Daphne Du Maurier who, of course, lived in Fowey, the family owning and still living at Ferryside. Lynne Gould gave a most informative slide show on the settings for Daphne Du Maurier’s famous books.

Jane Dunn talked about the Du Maurier sisters: Angela, Daphne and Jeanne. Jeanne was an artist who lived in St Ives, and Angela too was an author, although not as famous as her sister. Fortunately they all got on well, loved Cornwall, if were rather short of men in their lives.

There were boat trips (the only way to view Fowey) plus many interesting walks and other events. We enjoyed one of our favourite walks down to Polridmouth Bay - pronounced Pridmouth. This is where the wreck featured in Rebecca took place, based on a real event a few years before Daphne wrote the novel. There is still a lone swan on the lake.
Other authors at the festival included: Joanna Harris, Michael Morpurgo, Piers Brendon, Ken Livingstone, Kathy Lette, Fern Britton, Robert Powell and many more.Wendy Cope read from her wonderful poems, and Simon Hoggart was witty about MPs. We also enjoyed two plays: The Little Hut by St Austell Players, and Memory of Water, by Troy Players. Both were of an excellent standard, and the former very funny indeed. We loved the musical evening with Cantabile, a quartet of singers who sang with harmony and humour. I’ve never seen anything like it, they were great fun.

I gave my talk on the Saturday afternoon, linking my journey as a writer to the technology I used at the time, and finishing with my current success at self-publishing my back list as ebooks, how it is affecting the industry and being received by the consumer. And of course I mentioned my latest saga: My Lady Deceiver, which is set in Cornwall. It isn't the first time I've featured at the Festival, and I hope it won't be the last, as I do love to support it.

1905. Rosie Belsfield feels as if her life has ended when she is rejected from Ellis Island and put on the next boat back to England, leaving her family behind. But fate gives her a second chance when she befriends Lady Rosalind. Having boarded the ship with one identity, fate decrees that Rosie leave it with another.

As Rosie arrives in Cornwall as ‘Rosalind’, she finds herself increasingly trapped by her deception and the cruelty of those around her. Her only hope seems to be the enigmatic Bryce Tregowan, with whom the promise of a new life beckons. As she falls deeper into love and lies, can Rosie keep up the act, or will her secrets reveal themselves? And to what consequences?

Published by Allison & Busby
Available from Amazon

The week ended on a high with a fabulous one-woman show by Ruthie Henshall, star of Crazy for You, She Loves You, and Chicago. A brilliant evening, what a wonderful voice she has, and a delightful rapport with the audience. And a brilliant Festival. Can’t wait for next year. I highly recommend it, whether watching or taking part.

1 comment:

Lizzie Lamb said...

A great blog post, Freda. It's my dream to attend the Festival one year and I hope I realise it before too long. Great photos and nice to see Liz Fenwick on your blog, too.