In 1985, 24 young people from around the world had their RSVP pen pal requests (and their full postal addresses!) published in the bestselling music magazine of the day, Smash Hits. 35 years later, a couple from South London decided to reply – to all of them.
Paul Chronnell and Sarah-Louise Young then wrote a unique, funny and touching book (think Danny Wallace & Dave Gorman meet Nora Ephron and Richard Curtis) about their quest to first find, and then reunite 24 pen pal seekers with their teenage selves. The result was The RSVPeople. Paul is a feature-film screenwriter, playwright, author. He has written TV comedy and humorous articles for magazines. Sarah is an award-winning actor, singer, writer and cabaret performer, currently touring the country with her one woman show An Evening Without Kate Bush.
Join Lucinda Hawksley for the Goldster Inside Story on 7 April, as she chats to Paul and Sarah about their quest. It wasn’t easy – who still lives at their childhood address? (In this case: no one.) But armed with nothing more than the obsessive attention to detail of Hercule Poirot, the powers of the Internet and more coffee than is strictly good for a middle aged couple, they followed the clues and contacted strangers, in a self-deprecating bid to answer those 1980’s cries for connection. It’s a story of fun, of surprise, of tenacity, but also one of love – a heart-warming tale about people and the power of actually reaching out and saying hello.
Judith Grohmann was born in Vienna and grew up speaking three different languages. An alumni of the Lycée Français de Vienne, she graduated from the University of Vienna with a Master’s degree in Political Science, Journalism and Japanese. She started to work as a journalist at the age of 18 and became an author in 2005. Her previous books include Fighting the War on Terror and an official biography of the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
In her brand new book, The Real Mozart, she takes us behind the curtain to reveal the real personality of a composer, whose influence on the world of music remains profound today. A child prodigy, Mozart created his own style by blending the traditional with the contemporary. He was much loved – and much hyped – but was also a multi-layered and controversial personality: on one side a provocative influencer, but on the other side, a man who was drawn to the Masonic mindset of brotherhood, freedom, tolerance and humanity.
In his short life, Mozart anticipated almost everything that makes a celebrity today: international tours, hysterical fans, success, big hits, sex and addiction. Mozart’s oeuvre contains around 1,060 titles. Today he might have been showered with Grammys and platinum discs in recognition of his status as the original King of Pop.
Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of Darjeeling tea whilst watching a good wildlife documentary – and she’s never seen without her ruby-red lipstick. Although these days Veronica is rarely seen by anyone because, at 85, her days are spent mostly at home, alone. What she does have, however, is a newly discovered adult grandson, with whom she is less than impressed, and a new-found love of penguins. This latter provokes a fervent desire to travel to the ends of the earth to see them.
Veronica sets off – with luggage packed with Darjeeling and her favourite handbags, and with a bloody-minded determination to have the adventure of a lifetime, no matter what her doctor might think, let alone the scientists who live amongst and study the penguins.
Spend a leisurely month reading this joyous and life-affirming novel and then come along at 12pm on Friday 31 March to chat about it with Lucinda Hawksley and the Goldster community.
Breaking the Maafa Chain takes the reader back to the nineteenth century. Two sisters, Fatmata and Salimatu, are captured and sold separately into slavery. Forced to change their names to Faith and Sarah, they end up in two different countries with opposite slavery laws. Faith ends up in America, where slavery is still legal and slaves don’t have any rights; Sarah ends up in a Victorian England and as the goddaughter of Queen Victoria. Can the two sisters reclaim their freedom and identity in a world that is trying to break them down and mould them to its coloniser’s will?
Based on the true story of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, Breaking the Maafa Chain will take you on a journey of loss, survival, hope, identity and tradition. Join the author of this acclaimed debut novel on 24 March, when Anni Domingo will be chatting to Lucinda Hawksley about her writing, her career in the theatre, and the story behind this fascinating book.
Emma Burstall is the author of nine novels. She began her career as a journalist, first working as a cub reporter on The Western Morning News, based in Plymouth, and later writing for national newspapers and women’s magazines. Her debut novel, Gym and Slimline, focusing on the lives of four very different women, was inspired by visits to her local gym in South West London. Later, she went on to write a series of five books based in the charming, fictional Cornish fishing village of Tremarnock.
Although each novel stands on its own, the series follows the overarching story of Liz, a single mum from London who’s down on her luck. However, when she and her daughter Rosie, who has cerebral palsy, start a new life in Cornwall, events begin to take a very unexpected turn. Emma’s most recent book is The House on Rockaway Beach. Rockaway, a peninsula in the New York City borough of Queens, has miles of sandy beaches whilst also being just a stone’s throw from the bright lights and soaring skyscrapers of Manhattan – the perfect backdrop, says Emma, for heaps of action! Join Emma and Lucinda Hawksley for the Goldster Inside Story on 23 March, at 12pm.
Natalie Jenner is the internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls, which were both instant national bestsellers, Amazon Best Books of the Month, and People Magazine Books of the Week.
The Jane Austen Society has now been published in more than twenty languages and has been optioned for film and television. Natalie’s third novel, Every Time We Say Goodbye, is scheduled for release in early 2024.
Natalie was born in England and raised in Canada. She has been a corporate lawyer and career coach, and once owned an independent bookstore in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs. On 10 March at 12pm, Natalie will be joining Lucinda all the way from Canada, to chat to the Goldster community on Inside Story.
Join Lucinda Hawksley on 24 February for the Goldster Book of the Month. We’re reading and chatting about Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. This brilliant new bestseller has already been optioned for TV – and it’s a debut novel written by a woman in her 60s; the perfect Goldster choice!
Penguin Books describe it: “Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans, the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with – of all things – her mind. True chemistry results.
Like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual scientific approach to cooking proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.”
Come along for the February Book of the Month, and make this a Goldster community chat – there’s no recording for these sessions, and everyone is welcome to unmute themselves and join in.
Marika Cobbold first found writing fame with her novel Guppies for Tea – a story about growing old and fighting back, was accepted for publication. As Marika says, “Several other publishers had turned it down saying no one was interested in reading about old people. Luckily, as it turns out, they were wrong.” Guppies for Tea became a publishing sensation, promoted in bookshops and the media and serialised on BBC Woman’s Hour.
Her later novels include A Rival Creation, Shooting Butterflies and the wonderfully named Aphrodite’s Workshop for Reluctant Lovers. She has just published her eighth novel, On Hampstead Heath, which tells the story of Thorn Marsh who was raised in a house of whispers, of meaningful glances and half-finished sentences. Now she’s a journalist with a passion for truth, more devoted to her work at the London Journal than she ever was to her ex-husband. When her newspaper is bought by a major media company, Thorn discovers how vitally important the truth is when under threat. On Hampstead Heath is an homage to storytelling and to truth; to the tales we tell ourselves, and to the stories that save us.
Join Marika and Lucinda on 23 February to find out more about her books and what inspires her writing.