Dr Ally Moberley-Cavendish is a newly qualified female doctor. Which is a difficult and impressive thing in the 1880s. Recently married and living in Cornwall, she has taken a job in Truro asylum, giving medical attention to the inmates. Her husband, Tom, an engineer, is sent to Japan for work and their stories unfurl in the parallel narratives of their professional trials. As Tom becomes more and more absorbed by Japanese culture, Ally finds herself haunted by the sadness and anxiety of her upbringing, in particular, her difficult relationship with her mother, and the foundations of their brief marriage begin to slip.
Signs for Lost Children picks up from Moss’s previous novel, the excellent Bodies of Light, although it can also stand alone, and continues her beautifully written and controlled exploration into family dynamics, particularly complex mother/child relationships (Ally’s mother Elizabeth is an admirable monster) and whether there is any possibility of escaping the repeating patterns of successive generations. It is also about madness and sanity, loneliness and determination, written with great precision, clarity and emotional resonance.
Sarah Moss has long been a bookshop favourite, and is now even more so after her recent visit to the shop, when she impressed us with her wit, erudition and niceness. She has had much critical acclaim and deserves to be more widely read as she is a writer of great talent, whose powers are increasing with each book. Buy it!
And I’ve just read Night Waking, Sarah’s second novel and the book written before Bodies of Light and loosely linked to the other two. It’s set in the present day in the Hebrides where mother of two Anna wrestles with childcare and her doctoral thesis in an isolated cottage while her husband counts puffins, but it introduces us to one of the Moberley family through some old letters found in an attic. It is an interesting and satisfying read – witty, thoughtful and will strike a chord with all those who have paced the floor with a child whose body clock is obstinately out of sync with the rest of the family, but as Alice says, each of Sarah’s novels gains in strength….
The latest book from vet turned children’s writer Gill Lewis, author of the best-selling animal novels ‘Sky Hawk’, ‘White Dolphin’ and ‘Moon Bear’, widens her scope with an ambitious and moving story set in the rainforests of the Congo. It follows the plight of two children, Imara and Bobo, held captive by a group of rebel soldiers who have set up an illegal mineral mine in a National Park area. The rebels have also captured a baby gorilla, who Imara nurses back to health and forms a strong bond with. When Bobo and Imara learn that the gorilla is destined to be sold into captivity, they vow to return him to the wild before it’s too late. But the consequences of betraying the rebel soldiers are grim. Will they have the courage to carry out their plan, and will Bobo find out what happened to his park-ranger father?
So far, so earnest – but this is an exciting read, with really engaging characters, which manages to be very informative about the troubles faced by African rainforests being ‘blood-mined’ for minerals like coltan (used in mobile phones), without being ‘preachy’. With sympathetic, plucky boy and girl characters and a story which is moving without being sentimental, this is a really great, consciousness-raising read for readers of both genders, aged 9-14.
We are very excited to welcome back Andrew Gant, writer, composer, choirmaster, church musician, singer and university teacher.
Andrew has sung with many of the UK’s leading choirs and vocal ensembles including The Sixteen and the Monteverdi Choir. As choirmaster of the Queen’s Chapel Royal he led the Chapel Royal choir at the Golden Jubilee service in St Paul’s Cathedral in 2002 and the wedding of H.R.H. Prince William and Kate Middleton. He also set the text of the Poet Laureate Andrew Motion to music, creating ‘A Hymn for the Golden Jubilee’ as part of the 2002 Jubilee celebrations.
His 2014 book ‘Christmas Carols’, published by Profile Books, was a very interesting study of the origins of our best-loved Christmas songs.
Andrew will be speaking about his fascinating new book ‘Sing Unto the Lord, a History of English Church Music’ in which he traces English church music from its Anglo-Saxon origins to the present. It is a history of the music and of the people who made, sang and listened to it, shows the role church music has played in ordinary lives, and considers why it still remains so popular, despite declining church congregations.
Andrew’s talk will be accompanied by the St Andrews Church choir.
Ticket price includes a copy of ‘Sing unto the Lord’.
Wine, soft drinks and nibbles will be provided.
We are sure Steyning will extend a very warm welcome to Sophie Thompson – acclaimed actor and winner of 2014 Celebrity Masterchef, and now also author of the brilliant new cookery book ‘My Family Kitchen’, published by Faber. Sophie will speak about her fascinating theatrical career, and equally theatrical family, and the recipes they’ve handed down and shared over the years.
Ticket price includes delicious, seasonal 2 course meal, a glass of wine, and a copy of ‘My Family Kitchen’.
Part of Steyning and District Food & Drink Festival.
We feel very privileged to welcome Oz Clarke to Steyning, as part of the Steyning and District Food & Drink Festival.
Renowned wine expert, author, tv presenter, broadcaster and sometime West-End actor Oz Clarke will be sharing his fine palate and irreverent wit with us as he takes us on a tutored tasting of 6 local wines, and gives us the lowdown on what to look out for in the world of wine in the year to come.
Wines, delicious hand-made canapés, and a copy of Oz Clarke’s latest wine guide all included in ticket price!
Attention Ladybird fans! Julia Donaldson’s latest book continues the farmyard adventures of the brave and enterprising little ladybird, as she hatches a cunning plan to prevent Lanky Len and Hefty Hugh from making off with the farmer’s prize hen.
For a chance to buy your copy and get it signed by Julia Donaldson, come down to the bookshop on FRIDAY 18th SEPTEMBER from 4 – 5.30 pm.
Then from 6 pm we invite our customers to celebrate the successful link-up of our bookshop website with Julia’s website – it all seems to be working wonderfully, so do come and join us for wine, nibbles and a chat with Julia and Malcolm.
Special Summer Holiday Picture Book Promotion!
Here are a few of the tempting selection of titles in our big summer picture book buy-one-get-one-free promotion! Featuring fab new titles and old favourites from the good folks at Simon & Schuster, plus a sprinkle of other gems from our shelves. Come on down and grab some bargain story treats for your little people from the spinner at the rear of the children’s area!
Picture books Summer Special Offer
On Tuesday July 7th we felt very privileged to welcome the very talented novelist, travel writer and academic Sarah Moss to the bookshop for an intimate evening event. Sarah proved to be an absolutely fascinating speaker as she took us through her experiences in Iceland, the Hebrides, Cornwall and Japan which have contributed to her novels, and spoke about the themes of female emancipation, madness, philanthropy and the state, mother/daughter relations, and historical fiction which crop up in her latest novel ‘Signs for Lost Children’, published by Granta books. Signed copies of Sarah’s novels are available at the bookshop.
On July 15th local writer Debbie Howells celebrated the launch of her debut thriller ‘The Bones of You’ at The Sussex Produce Café. Debbie’s publishers, Pan Macmillan, very generously sponsored the event, which saw a really great crowd (including most of the residents of Debbie’s tiny village, Wiston!) turning out to buy copies of her book and sample the delicious wine and canapés provided by the Sussex Produce Café.
The very next day saw Pan Macmillan again showing their generosity by helping us launch Worthing writer Pam Weaver‘s new romantic saga, ‘Blue Moon’. We managed to squeeze around 40 of Pam’s friends, relations and local well-wishers into the bookshop, where Pam amused and inspired us all in equal measure as she described her journey to becoming a published writer and shared readings from her new novel. Sara’s canapés were delectable as always, and we are very grateful to all who came along to celebrate with Pam.
Then on July 23rd a friendly crowd squeezed into the bookshop for the launch of Guardian journalist and writer David Boyle’s new book ‘How to be English’, published by Vintage.
David Boyle and lots of English delicacies!
Pictured above, David poses behind the mouth-watering array of British delicacies prepared by his wife Sarah, and by Sara and Alice from the bookshop. An evening of lively debate followed, as David pondered the essence of Englishness (as opposed to Britishness), with plenty of contributions from the audience! We look forward to welcoming David back soon for another informative talk.
Our second-to-last July event was the eagerly-awaited return of novelist Louis de Bernieres, who joined us for a wonderful author supper at The Sussex Produce Café on July 28th. As ever, Louis was an engaging and amusing speaker, as he regaled us with tales of his grandmother and her lost love, the inspiration behind his latest novel ‘The Dust that Falls from Dreams’ – interestingly, Louis informed us that the book’s title was taken from a song by Louis’ friend, folk song-writer Ralph McTell, in return for a pint! For those who missed out, we have signed copies of Louis’ books in the shop. Many thanks to Louis for coming all the way from Norfolk, and to the Sussex Produce Café for a fantastic menu and great atmosphere, as always!
Sadly, despite there being four bookshop staff members present, we were all so swept up in the excitement of the evening that we forgot to take any photos, so thanks to Nick Hempleman from Sussex Produce for this shot of Louis.
Louis de Bernieres at The Sussex Produce Cafe
Finally, on Friday 31st the bookshop garden marquee was hastily erected for Leigh Hodgkinson’s visit. Leigh enchanted the young audience with her story ‘The Monster Snorey Book’ and went on to produce a collaborative giant monster doodle, before everyone got busy creating their very own paper-bag monster costumes, with the usual amount of chaos and glitter-strewing ensuing. Thanks to Leigh, her husband, and 2 lovely children for coming over on such a hot day! A really enjoyable event, we hope, for all concerned, and Leigh’s vibrant picture books really are delightful, so we hope to welcome her back in future.
Lots of pictures from this event will be available to view soon from the Gallery area of our website.