Today I welcome Sue Featherstone to the blog to talk about her 3 books.
Sue is a former journalist and public relations practitioner turned academic.
Her career started in local newspapers before switching to PR to become internal communications manager with a large utility company.
She completed a degree in English Literature as a mature student and subsequently moved into higher education, teaching journalism to undergraduate students at Sheffield Hallam University.
At the beginning of 2017, Sue left Sheffield Hallam to focus on her writing.
Together with her friend and writing partner Susan Pape, she has written two successful journalism text books – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction; and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction.
Their first novel, A Falling Friend, was published by Lakewater Press in 2016 and a sequel A Forsaken Friend is published on March 21, 2018. The final book in their Friends trilogy will follow next year.
What’s the first book you remember reading?
Yikes! That’s a surprisingly tough question because I know I was reading Enid Blyton fairly early on but I can’t actually remember any specific books. So, the book I’m going to nominate as the first I can properly remember reading is Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, which was a present for either my tenth or eleventh birthday.
I don’t actually remember unwrapping it and thinking ‘Wow’ but it quickly became a favourite and I re-read it so much it started to fall to pieces.
It’s the story of three girls – Pauline, Petrova and Posy – who became an accidental family after Great Uncle Matthew, an eccentric palaeontologist, rescues each of them during his fossil hunting trips in various parts of the world. Hence their surname: Fossil.
He brings each home to London to be looked after by his great-niece Sylvia aka Garnie with help from her old nurse, Nana while he continues his explorations.
When money gets tight, Sylvia decides to rent out rooms in the family home in Cromwell Road. One of the new lodgers is Theo Dane, a dance teacher, who suggests the girls enrol at stage school.
Enter Madame Fidolia, a famous Russian ballerina, now retired and proprietor of The Children’s Academy of Dancing and Stage Training.
In some ways, it’s a bit of an unfeasible storyline – even as a child I found it surprising that no-one came forward to claim Pauline who became a Fossil when she and Great Uncle Matthew’s were among a handful of people to survive a shipwreck. Surely there were grandparents, aunts or uncles back home who would have wanted her?
And it always seemed a shame that Mr Simpson, another of the lodgers, was already married and therefore not eligible to fall in love with Sylvia.
It’s hard to put a finger on what I liked so much – but I’ve still got my tatty dog-eared copy. It’s an old friend and I can’t bear to throw it out.
What book will always stay with you and why?
This is much easier to answer: God’s Bits of Wood by Sembene Ouseman.
Published in 1960, the year Senegal gained independence, the novel follows the lives of the people caught up in the 1947-48 Dakar-to-Niger railway strike.
They’re a disparate group.
Ousemane journeys the length of the train line telling the stories of the strikers, their colonial masters and the other workers whose livelihoods depend on the railway, as well as those of the wives and ‘concubines’ and other women whose lives are changed forever by the strike.
On one level God’s Bits of Wood is about the struggle of the black railway workers to be treated fairly by their employers, but it also explores issues around class and gender prejudices and the corrosive effect of colonialism on both the colonised and their colonisers.
It’s not an easy read – there’s a large cast of characters (around three dozen-or-so) and the unfamiliar West African names and the equally unfamiliar colonial French setting mean you have to concentrate. But it’s well worth the effort.
One book you are looking forward to reading?
Another easy answer: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I’m exactly 169 pages into this 554 page-turner, which I borrowed from my daughter at the end of January. Our reading tastes are usually very different so I wasn’t too sure what to expect but loving it.
The bIurb describes it as a small story about a girl + an accordionist + some fanatical Germans + a Jewish fist-fighter + quite a lot of thievery.
It’s a little bit more complex than the summary suggests but it’s beautifully written.
Trouble is, I’ve had to put it on one side in order to finish book club reads and to meet review commitments so I’m looking forward to the Easter Bank Holiday weekend when, whatever else crops up, I AM going to finish it.
A Forsaken Friend
No-one said friendship was easy.
Things can’t get much worse for Teri Meyer. If losing her job at the university and the regular allowance from her dad’s factory isn’t bad enough, now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband! Well, to hell with them all. A few weeks in the countryside at her brother’s smallholding should do the trick – and the gorgeous and god-like neighbour might help.
But then there’s Declan, not to mention Duck’s Arse back in Yorkshire…
It’s not as if Lee Harper set out to fall in love with her best friend’s ex-husband. But, for once, her love life is looking up – except for all the elephants in the room, not to mention Mammy’s opinion on her dating a twice-divorced man. Perhaps things aren’t as rosy as she first thought. And now with one family crisis after another, Lee’s juggling more roles – and emotions – than she ever imagined.
Maybe sharing her life with a man wasn’t such a grand idea.
The FRIENDS trilogy continues in this heart-warming and hilarious hoot as two best friends navigate men, careers, family and rock bottom in this brilliant sequel to A FALLING FRIEND.