Friday 15th September. Talk by Sue Gee author of Mysteries of Glass and how she researched the details of Kington for the book.
It was a good turn out for our first night back into the programme and a very inspiring evening for all who attended.
Sue Gee was very generous with her information and how she starts her novels. We all got a quick lesson in Creative writing, which was fascinating in itself, but when she started on the Kington aspect of the book we all realised how much she got from our now President, Vera Harrison, who was then the KHS secretary. Vera started by sending Sue some local names for her to use as characters in the book and then a shop by shop account of the High St in 1860. Sue obviously fabricated some of the events, but the social history of the era gave her a wide scope to make the book alive with the history of the time. She found the Skarratt Diaries and Parry books
invaluable for putting some colour into the story she was writing and her own background knowledge of the church and farming just added to the whole affair and made it all so much more believable. Her search into the past history of her cottage also added to the intrigue as it was owned by the Diocese of Hereford and a curate named Allen was on the circuit at that time so the picture unfolded even more. She read many local Radnorshire books and was able to get the whole County feel in to the story. Her descriptions of the railways, the dress of the day and the language is all from social history books and Dickens “Hard Times” which was set in Victorian times and perfect for the story. Sue makes the novel very believable as she wrote most of it sitting in the very rooms of the cottage that the young curate would have sat, watching the cows in the top field and walking the paths that have not changed much over the years. The only thing missing was the noise of the railway, the smell of the coal and steam, but as a very established author Sue was very competent in making that real too. In the book you can hear, you can see, you can smell all the things she describes, good and bad, so even the market gets the pungent smell of the animals over your sensory glands. The Prayermint just goes to show the power of belief in this book and the skill of the author making us all think it is a real flower.
I am not sure if I totally understood the reasoning behind the title but I guess all authors are allowed some artistic licence. The talk was both warming and inspiring, informative and enjoyable, intriguing and sensual, just like the book. If you have not read it yet please make some time to get hold of a copy I can thoroughly recommend it. Thank you again Sue for a super insight into writing this novel “Mysteries of Glass”.
Review by Nancy Wheatland
(It was a happy day for the Society when Sue came in carrying a reading lamp which had just been repaired by Tom Bounds. Our quarters were at the library then and we had many visitors. Of course, we were pleased to help with any local colour. Sue borrowed many familiar names and you will meet them again in the book wearing the apparel of the 1860s. All Kingtonians will recognise Tom Bounds as a cheeky little boy running around Lyonshall, and other names in different guises). VH.
There is much more than Sue’s book to be reviewed, as the day following her talk members were invited to her cottage and all had a wonderful time. There is not enough space left in this Bulletin for a full report, and therefore the review will appear in next month’s issue.
Dates for your Diary
Our October meeting is on 20th and is our AGM and discussion of future of Kington History Society – 40 years old this year! There will be a display of local postcards, courtesy of Dunfield House. Please come and join us as there are some important things to discuss, and the committee really needs some more volunteers to help keep the Society running.
The meeting will be at 7.30 in Kington Primary School, Mill Street as usual. Members are free, visitors £2, which includes tea or coffee, biscuits and a cake for our 40th birthday.