I went along to the soirée of readings by Mr Campbell-Howes from his new book The Night Music last Friday as planned. It started at 7.30pm, but my friend and I couldn't find the place, it being stuck at the end of the Esplanade over a little bridge and hidden from general view. After walking up and down the Esplanade a couple of times, I asked, and was given directions from a lady on a flower stall, at the other end of the rather long Esplanade. Trekking back down, we arrived 25mins late just as the introduction was finishing.
Rather pleased at having missed the boring bit (all in French, monotonous voice, soporific ambiance) Mr C-H stood up to tell us about his book. He's a delightful-looking gentleman with a very kind face and jolly smile. He was older than I expected - must be approaching 60, and distinguished. He also has a nice voice.
He told us about the book which tells a romantic story about a 13-yr old boy and 18-yr old girl who meet at a boarding school where she is an under-matron before going up to university at the Royal College of Music to study the piano. It's a Romeo and Juliet tale à l'envers set in the post-War 50s in England and France.
Mr C-H is an experienced writer, but this is his first novel and it sounds as though he had a great time writing it. He said afterwards that it was commissioned, so no problems getting it published, lucky sod... What he read was good publicity for the book, choosing an attractive variety of sections to give a feel of the whole; intense in places, more flippant in others with boys ragging each other about warts. Likewise with pace, he read passages of fast-moving action, and more languid introspection.
I had to leave just before the end, so couldn't meet him in person, and also missed the nibbles. I was heading off to a girls' night out with friends at a promising-sounding restaurant called O Chocolat. A great night out!