Wednesday 1 January 2020

A new beginning

Happy New Year to any of my old faithfuls who still check in to this blog from time to time. My plans to switch to using the blog on my new website didn't quite come off, as I discovered that this one was more user-friendly after all (or maybe I just like what I know). So I plan to update this one more often this year.

The two Penelope Kite mysteries written with Rob under the nom de plume of Serena Kent will come out in paperback in the USA and Canada in February and March. But meanwhile, I have been playing around with a new solo novel, one I have wanted to write for several years but couldn't find the way in. I think I can see the path now, and have been doing some fascinating research.

The photo shows the heroine, my mother Joy, who passed away five years ago. Here she is in Moscow in 1958, at the Donskoi Monastery. She was working at the British Embassy, but what exactly was she doing there at the height of the Cold War? Her diaries tell us very little, though some of the entries contain a wonderful mixture of the exciting and the mundane, such as the contrast between two letters in the entry below. There are intriguing clues between the lines, some that make sense only to those who know the family stories. I see it as a novel about remarkable events never spoken about, mothers and daughters, and what we don't - or can't - know about those we love. Wish me luck!

Diary for Saturday, June 14 1958: Panic stations this morning with a lengthy Khrushchev letter to go out; four of us worked on it & it was ready in time; home late, only to dash out again on the Kremlin visit. Only I turned up & we had no guide; the museum & churches were quite interesting, but O so tiring – and the Gruesome Twosome weren’t receiving after 4. [Deborah's note: The "Gruesome Twosome" refers to Stalin and Lenin, who shared a mausoleum between 1953 and 1961. A nice example of my mother's dry humour.]

Joy came in for a cup of tea – we were perishing cold, and then I was quickly out again with Valerie to see “The Monte Carlo Story” with Dietrich & de Sica at America House. Enjoyed it very much; came straight home & managed to get my letter home written in bed.

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