One day when I was scrabbling around for something to read, Caroline handed me a book and told me I might enjoy it. Looking at the design of the cover I thought, ‘Mmm, a woman’s book’ but nevertheless gave it a go. It was Remember Me by Lesley Pearse, and I enjoyed it very much. This was the story of Mary Broad, a woman who survived transportation to Australia and a life it would be an understatement to call grim — a story turned into a TV production you might have seen (but not based on the book).
Recently Caroline picked up on the fact that, through the Essex Book Festival, Lesley Pearse would be giving a talk at South Woodham Ferrers library, which is just a ten minute drive away from us. She wanted to go and so did her mother, Myrtle, who is also a fan.
I’ve enjoyed these things before like, for example, when we went to listen to Martina Cole at Maldon library and she entertained us with stories about her work for Social Services. One other highlight of that visit was the righteous frown one of the staff gave us because we wanted to go outside for a cigarette, where we were joined by another smoker in the room, a blond-haired lady by the name of Martina Cole. So, even though I’d only read one Lesley Pearse book, I signed up too.
The talk she gave was good, kept us welded to our seats for an hour and could have continued for longer with no objection. I had to chuckle at some of the anecdotes. How, as a wannabe writer, would you feel about presenting a book to the agent Darley Anderson, having a meal with him and then, afterwards, him dropping the manuscript on the table and saying, “This is rubbish, but you can write – go away and write another one.” She did, book after book, and just like me had a number of books completed before she was ever published. In fact there were a lot of things she said whose familiarity I had a wry chuckle at.
If you get a chance to hear her speak she’s definitely worth the ticket price.