Andrew’s latest book, published by Frances Lincoln, is The Worlds of Sherlock Holmes, a lavishly illustrated examination of the social, political and intellectual environments which spawned both Sherlock Holmes and his creator Conan Doyle. Andrew and Lucinda will be chatting about this latest title, as well as about Wilkie Collins, because 2024 is the bicentenary of Collins’s birth. …
Join Lucinda Hawksley for the final Inside Story, with special guest Karim Alrawi, who will be joining us very early in the morning his time, from Canada. Karim grew up in both of his parents’ countries: England and Egypt. His experiences of both countries’ literary heritages have made him a superb writer, able to master several genres.
Karim’s first produced work was a radio play submitted, when at university, to a BBC competition. After graduating, he became a playwright, literary manager of the Theatre Royal Stratford East, and resident writer at London’s Royal Court Theatre. His plays have won awards, including an Edinburgh Festival Fringe First and the Samuel Beckett Award for the Performing Arts.
After accepting an offer to teach creative writing at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, Karim set up the censorship monitoring unit at the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights and was elected president of Egyptian Pen. Subsequently, he received an International Fulbright Scholarship to the USA and took up residencies at theatres in the US and Canada. He also taught creative writing including at the University of Victoria, the University of British Columbia and the University of Iowa (home of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop). Karim also wrote articles for publications including The Guardian, the New Statesman, the Globe and Mail, the Literary Review of Canada and the LA Review of Books. He was senior editor of Inquiry magazine, managing editor of Middle East Insight magazine and editor in chief of Arabica magazine.
After 9/11, he was commissioned by the US State Department and the Canadian International Development Agency to develop and supervise media training programmes on conflict-mitigating, reporting in 14 countries from Morocco to Nepal. He was also an advisor to the United Nations, and he helped to develop a framework for a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, laying the groundwork for the Annapolis Conference (2007).
Karim’s first novel was the superb and award-winning Book of Sands and he has just completed a second novel, The Burning Book, based on his experience training Iraqi journalists during the country’s occupation by western coalition forces. Join Lucinda and Karim at 12pm on Tuesday 29 February.
Earlier this month, Lucinda interviewed Fran Hill, an author and retired English teacher, about her brilliant debut novel Cuckoo in the Nest. Set in the heatwave summer of 1976, it is inspired by Fran’s own experience of being fostered. Its narrator is bright, sarcastic, 14-year-old poet, Jackie Chadwick, newly-fostered by the Wall family. Jackie desperately needs stability but the Walls’ insecure, jealous teenage daughter Amanda isn’t happy about the ‘cuckoo’ and sets about ousting her.
Despite dealing with what sounds like difficult and depressing subjects, the book is actually very funny and easy to read. The characters are really cleverly created and the situations, the location and the (many!) descriptions of food will take you right back to the 1970s. When Amanda’s behaviour leads to a crisis, the carefully laid veneer covering the Wall family starts to crack, and everyone had to reassess what is important to them.
Join Lucinda at 12pm on 23 February to talk about this life-affirming novel and the Goldster Book Club in general.
A very special Inside Story brings together Goldster Conversations’ two founding hosts Lucinda and Humphrey Hawksley in both a Zoom and in-person audience event at Kingfisher Wharf, Riverstone, Fulham. Three years ago, at the height of the pandemic, with millions isolated and alone, Goldster founder Mike Reid had a vision: What if he could deliver activities, social interaction, community and stimulus straight into people’s homes. With his experience in health and well-being, Mike did exactly that to make Goldster the brilliant success story it is today. His plan included a Book Club to encourage discussion and reading. This became Goldster Conversations where Humphrey and Lucinda have hosted hundreds of fascinating guests.
Today, the tables will turn with Lucinda asking Humphrey about his books and work. Why did he work his passage to Australia straight after leaving school? What drew him into journalism to become one of the BBC’s most respected foreign correspondents? Find about his long-running campaign against slavery and quiz Humphrey on world affairs. Are we heading for war? How can we secure peace? And where did he get the idea for his highly-acclaimed Rake Ozenna thriller series, based on a remote Alaskan island?
Being Goldster, of course, where anything goes, you might find Humphrey quizzing Lucinda, especially as she is the great-great-great granddaughter of Charles Dickens and, in her blood, carries his campaigning literary talent with an array of books on history, travel and, yes, beards.
Don’t miss this unique Goldster Conversation 12.00 Thursday February 8th on Zoom and at Riverstone, Fulham.
Kate Griffin’s Fyneshade is an homage to Victorian gothic, offering readers the familiar tropes of the genre twisted into something darkly devious. When the anti-heroine, Marta, is banished to the wilds of Derbyshire to become a governess at a remote and crumbling mansion, murder ensues.
In most examples of classic ‘governess gothic’ the heroine is a pure-hearted ingenue, but Marta is a practising witch and very far from innocent. It is soon apparent that Fyneshade and its inhabitants have much to fear from a young woman who brings the darkness with her.
Kate Griffin studied English Literature and went on to work as an assistant to an antiques dealer, a journalist for local newspapers and, until recently for The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. Her love of all things Victorian is apparent in her Kitty Peck Murder Mystery series published by Faber and Faber. She is the co-author (with Marcia Hutchinson) of the forthcoming historical novel The Blackbirds of St Giles to be published by Simon & Schuster under the pseudonym Lila Cain.
Join Kate as she chats to Lucinda Hawksley on the Goldster Inside Story at 12pm on 2 February.
Fran Hill is an author and retired English teacher from Warwickshire, England. She started publishing articles, features, short stories and poems in her 20s and wrote a monthly humorous column about education in the (then) Times Educational Supplement for several years.
In her 50s, Fran tried a little harder and her first full-length book Miss, What Does Incomprehensible Mean? (SPCK, 2020) is a funny but poignant memoir about a year in her life as a teacher.
Her first novel Cuckoo in the Nest was published by Legend Press in 2023. Set in the heatwave summer of 1976, it is inspired by Fran’s own experience of being fostered. Its narrator is bright, sarcastic, 14-year-old poet, Jackie Chadwick, newly-fostered by the Wall family. Jackie desperately needs stability but the Walls’ insecure, jealous teenage daughter Amanda isn’t happy about the ‘cuckoo’ and sets about ousting her.
Join Fran on 1 February, as she chats to Lucinda Hawksley about her writing career, including the brilliant Cuckoo in the Nest – which you may have heard featured on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
In a recent Book Club discussion, Goldster members chose the novel we’ll be looking at this month. Pride and Prejudice was Jane Austen’s second novel (her first was Sense and Sensibility ). It was published in January 1813 – which was seventeen years after Austen first began working on it. The story was inspired by a visit to her brother Edward’s home in Kent. If you’ve never read the book before, now is the time the discover a much-loved classic; and if you think you know it well, you’ll be intrigued by how much you discover on re-reading it.
At 12pm on 26 January, come along and chat with Lucinda Hawksley and fellow Goldster members about an iconic British novel, written by a woman who was barely known about in her own time, and who profited sadly little from the publication of Pride and Prejudice, yet whose fame has now spread around the world. We’ll look at the characters, the plot, the storyline, and how you think Jane Austen’s name has managed to reach the level of fame it has acquired in the 21st century.
Our Book of the Month events are open to all, whether you’ve had the chance to read the book or not. These events are not recorded, everyone is unmuted and everyone gets the chance to meet other Goldster members.
Jenifer Roberts began writing biography shortly after her 50th birthday – almost by accident. She was a professional photographer, having trained and worked in the old way, spending many enjoyable hours in the darkroom. She says “There were two strands to my work, portraiture and landscape photography, and I worked almost entirely in black and white. My landscapes were exhibited in England and abroad, and a book of my photographs, Spirit of the Place, was published by Creative Monochrome in 1992.”
After her mother’s death in 1985, Jenifer discovered letters written in the 1850s by a distant relative. They told a strange story which stayed in her mind. A few years later, eager to find out more, she began to research the family and, rather to her surprise, found that she was telling their stories in her head as she went along. This began her second career as a writer.
Now, almost three decades later, Jenifer has written six books of biography and narrative history, whose stories take place in the UK, Portugal and New Zealand. They are: Glass; The Madness of Queen Maria; Fitz, the Colonial Adventures of James Edward FitzGerald; The Beauty of Her Age: A Tale of Sex, Scandal and Money in Victorian England; and Entertaining the Braganzas. Her most recent title is Where the Wind Blows.
Join Jenifer on 25 January at 12pm, as she chats to Lucinda Hawksley about the intriguing subjects of her books and her fascinating career.
Join Humphrey and Lucinda for our brand new segment: the Goldster Community Chat. This is your chance to meet other members and chat about your experiences of Goldster, as well as to talk about the Goldster Conversations events you’ve enjoyed and what you’ve learned from our Goldster interviews on PPG and the Book Club.
This is also your chance to talk about what you would like to see happening on Goldster in the coming year, and Lucinda and Humphrey will be able to talk about what we’ve got planned for Book Club and PPG.
Our Community Chat events are open to everyone who is a part of the Goldster community. These events are not recorded, everyone is unmuted and everyone gets the chance to meet other Goldster members.