A few reviews and some big news this week. I’ll start with the news. No, the reviews. No…
On September 2nd, Penguin and The National Theatre launched an exciting new scriptwriting competition for wannabe young British writers (13-18). All the details can be found on the Spinebreaker’s website or the National Theatre website but the short version goes something like this: read How I Live Now (if you haven’t already), then take the story, themes and characters as a starting point to create a short treatment and the first scene of a script. That’s it, just one scene.
The judges for your adaptation will include the playwright Mark Ravenhill, Sebastian Born (Associate Director of the National Theatre)…and me. Five writers will be chosen to participate in a masterclass at the National Theatre and see their work performed by professional actors and directors.
I learned one thing from writing the first draught of the screenplay for How I Live Now – and that’s not to be too precious about the book. So I herewith give all you aspiring playwrights permission to make Daisy a transvestite and set the book during the Peloponnesian wars. Or…whatever.
The deadline is October 30th so get writing.
And now, as they say in the shampoo commercials, for the science bit. Here are some excerpts from the latest reviews of the Bride’s Farewell, so if you haven’t read it yet, and are thinking maybe it’s too boring, or not really very good, or you’d really rather just go to bed early most nights, these might convince you:
As exhilarating as a ride across the moors, Rosoff’s fourth novel is rich in the emotional landscape of the untamed female heart. The journey that Pell makes is actual and metaphysical, as she passes from girlhood into womanhood while riding her beloved pony, Jack. Every sentence is crafted and weighted with beauty, whether describing the city of Salisbury (“Beyond the city walls to the north, Pell could see the tip of the lacy cathedral spire rising up towards heaven, while here on earth, stinking sewage collected in ditches beside the road”), hypocrisy or meanness. Any pony-mad girl will adore this, just as romantics will fall head over heels in love with Dogman, but it’s the intelligence and shaping sensibility with which the story of Pell is told that make it something special.
Rosoff’s prose is strong and muscular, its cadence that of a horse’s canter, its chiming tone ballad-like. Teens will be enthralled by Pell and her archetypal quest; adults will revel in the novel’s canny wit, lyricism and piercing insights.
It’s not often that one comes across a children’s book as richly detailed and layered as this. Meg Rosoff is a wonderful, captivating writer – her evocation of place and time are pitch perfect. The smells, sounds and senses of the woods and fields, the pain and yearning of Pell for her family, her growing sense of herself, are perfectly wrought.
The Bride’s Farewell might start as a typical bildungsroman, but at the hands of talented novelist Meg Rosoff there is nothing less than riveting about this perfect, tightly written story. The brilliance of Rosoff’s minimalist writing is setting the story in a familiar frame, but lending Pell’s decisions the weight and grace of a groundbreaking, role-defying hero. The lyrical passages and the strange and wonderful characters will linger with you long after the covers are closed; you’ll be tempted to devour the book in one gulp, to read it in one sitting, when really, it should be savored. Fortunately, if gluttony triumphs and you swallow it whole, all you need to do is turn back to page one and read it again, slowly this time.
It does a girl’s heart good…. I’d like to include reviews from some of those fantastic bloggers out there, but you can only show off so much. So I’ll wait for next time (but for now, thank you all – you know who you are). And now, I think I’ll gallop off into the sunset.