Having just finished reading Girl Reading, by Katie Ward, I am feeling a combination of inspired, altered, and - rare for me - speechless. I was drawn to the cover, drawn to the title, intrigued by the concept on the back of the book (seven girls reading, caught by artists, real and imagined, starting with 14th Century Sienna, through to a photographer in Shoreditch, 2008 - with the eighth segment taking place in the year 2060), and then, the little bio on the book, that the author lives in Suffolk with her husband and cat, and this is her first novel.
Having just finished writing my first novel, as yet unpublished, living in London with my husband and cat, I was intrigued.
Because the thing is, from the moment I started reading it, I was already telling everyone, including strangers on the street, that 'this is the best f*****g book, EVER' - so loudly, so emphatically at times I could see I was scaring people - before I had even finished it. I didn't want to finish it. Like savouring some really good chocolate that you hide from your husband because he'll eat it all (okay - maybe that's just something I'm forced to do), I kept reading slower and slower until finally, today, coming home from a little date night in the rain with my husband, I felt I was ready: bubble bath, with almond oil and sea salt (turns out, that's another of the author's favourite things - bubble baths - but I didn't know it until I read her online bio).. I can't write. She's too good a writer. I am in awe. Her writing voice is so unique, I find myself THINKING like she writers - like a ghost of an image, that lingers on.
And now, having finished it, I just have to wait until she writes her second novel.
I'm inspired now, to do a series of girls reading. This is the first in my Girl Reading series. Forget Fifty Trashy Shades of Bogstandard Pornographic Grey: this is the real deal. THIS is the book I'd take to a desert island, if I was only allowed one. But don't just take my word for it.