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Writing Family, Writing Country: Questions of Identity in Two New Novels

Sunday 30 March 2014

1 Hour


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Two first-time novelists explore the ways in which families and countries of origin function as concentric circles of identity for characters who face unresolved conflicts both personal and public.

In Cologne, Sarah Pleydell depicts the London landscape of the early 1960s as German au-pair Renate arrives to meet her new children. It is their parents, however, she is unprepared for, as the mother, Helen, knows more about Nazi Germany than she does, and the father, Jack, disarms her with his charm. In A Secret Woman, Rose Solari explores how an estranged American mother and daughter can be reconciled, after the mother’s death, in the realm of England’s myth and history. This other country becomes an agent of forgiveness and reinvention for the daughter as well as for her mother.

Pleydell is an award-winning writer, performer and playwright, who teaches English and writing at the University of Maryland. Rose Solari is the author of three full-length collections of poetry, Difficult Weather, Orpheus in the Park, and The Last Girl (due Autumn 2014); and a one-act play, Looking for Guenevere. She is a research member of Kellogg College, Oxford, attached to the Centre for Creative Writing, and serves on the centre’s advisory panel.