Event: Penguin General Bloggers Party
Who: The friendly people of the Penguin General Publicity team.
What: An evening for book bloggers to mingle and meet authors with wine and free books thrown in for good measure.
Where: ‘The Gallery’, third floor of Foyles Bookstore on Charing Cross Road, London.
When: Wednesday 27th March (it’s an annual event!)
I had never been to a Blogger party so I was quite unaware of what to expect. Since the venue was just down the road from my work I was a little early. In hindsight an error because it meant that I perused the bookshelves in Foyles resulting in at least ten more new titles being added to my ‘to read’ list.
Not knowing anyone was slightly daunting, however, this feeling soon disappeared as soon as I entered, ‘The Gallery,’ and was greeted warmly by Lija (the main Penguin organiser). Before I knew it I was directed to a name badge and had a glass of red wine in hand. The evening improved immeasurably when I was thrust into a conversation with two authors, Rhidian Brook and Mohsin Hamid, who were both present to treat us to a reading from their latest books. Before the readings began, the ‘Bloggers’ were invited to take any/ as many of the books that were available on the trestle tables, most of these were written by the authors present but there were a couple, ‘Toby’s Room’ by Part Barker included, that I snaffled which weren’t.
After a bit more mingling and the realisation that I needed to have ‘a blogger card’ to hand out, I sat down with my new friend and fellow blogger Sarah (‘Today I’m Reading’), a sack full of books and another glass of wine to listen to the eight authors and the accompanying pianist.
Mohsin Hamid ‘How to get filthy rich in rising Asia’ – the first of our author readings, due to his need to dash off quite quickly, and a very amusing and semi-seductive one! The novel spins the tale of one man’s journey from poverty to business tycoon set in Pakistan. Previously I hadn’t been attracted to the title or the synopsis of the book however, after this little snippet, I knew I wanted to read more, so I grabbed a copy in the interval before it was too late.
Alicia Foster ‘Warpaint’ – as a debut novel this one ticked a lot of boxes. Set in 1942 near the woods of Bletchley Park, the short reading from Foster didn’t disappoint offering up espionage, the Home Front and some strong lady leads sending this novel to the top of my reading list.
Rhidian Brook ‘The Aftermath’ – based on a true story told to him by his Grandfather, Brook’s latest novel tells the tale of post-war Germany, specifically Hamburg. Colonel Morgan is tasked with the reconstruction of a devastated city and finds himself sharing his ‘requisitioned’ new home with its German owners.
I enjoyed speaking to Rhidian immensely, especially finding out more about his background as a scriptwriter. This is his latest novel which is already destined for the big screen thanks to Ridley Scott. I was envious to learn that his publicity tour is taking him off to America and Canada with his daughter acting as his PA – she’s 13yrs old!
Catherine O’Flynn ‘My Lynch’s Holiday’ – an amusing story of a father attempting to reconnect with his son amongst the ex-pat community in Spain. As someone who is somewhat disillusioned when Brits move abroad to just demand British culture with sunshine this is set to be a novel that will tickle my brain cells.
Bernadine Evaristo ‘Mr Loverman’ – one word… hilarious. Evaristo should do audio-books as her humorous and playful voice does complete justice to her novel, which spins the tale of gay love set in contemporary London.
James Robertson ‘The Professor of Truth’ – this poignant reading from Robertson almost caused me to tear-up. His beautiful and tragic novel deals with one man’s experience with the Lockerbie Bombing and his quest to find out the truth. This reading was my favourite of the evening.
Joanna Rossiter ‘The Sea Change’ – her debut novel sounds intense and quite beautiful dealing with the relationship between a mother and daughter who are caught up in a Tsunami and war.
Jonathan Coe ‘Expo 58’ – the final reading was by Mr. Coe whose novel concerns the Cold War period and has been described as ‘A Hichcockian Thriller and political farce.’ The snippet we were treated too was heavy on the toilet humour and bloody hilarious so I will be eager to crack on with this one!
Freebies: Books! I seriously didn’t realise there would be so many to choose from but I came home with quite the haul.
Food: Red wine (or if you preferred white wine or bottles of Peroni) and a selection of pick n mix, olives and various potato based snacks.
This was a really fun evening full of interesting people with author, blogger and vlogger (??) coming together due to a genuine love for books – thank you Penguin and team for the invite!
Rating: 8.5 out of 10