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BOOKS: Fiction That Brings You Alive, With Sarah Winman & Sarah Schmidt

 

Sophia Chettleburgh

Monday, 8 May 2017

Books, glorious books. If only there were time to read every new enticing novel that sits in my wish list on Amazon, and every untouched hardback in my house. Alas, work and money have to take priority in my life, but books come a very close second. Reading is one of life’s little gems; you can while away boring train journeys and rainy lunch breaks by immersing yourself in a fictional world, briefly stepping into someone else’s shoes to have a look at the world...

 

Books have the ability to stop life for a moment – for half an hour you can be anyone you want to be, be it a bold, fearless heroine or someone on the run after committing a heinous crime.

 

When I saw that Rooftop Book Club and Emerald Street were hosting a book event with actress and author Sarah Winman and debut novelist Sarah Schmidt, I decided to pop along with a friend to enjoy a literary evening of insight and imagination, and free wine and tote bags. The evening was chaired by writer Hannah Beckerman and we got to hear from both writers about their exciting new novels.

Rooftop Book Club and Emerald Street Sarah Winman

There are thousands of books that boast of being thrilling, addictive and thought-provoking, but in contrast to the mass of novels that are released each year there are few that proudly sit on the bookshelf and stand the test of time. One book that I read recently, that deserves every ounce of praise it was given, was Sarah Winman’s When God was a Rabbit. A beautiful, heartbreaking novel, written with honest emotion and warming wit, it delves into the life of Elly and her family over four decades.

 

We live and breathe their lives as they move from Essex to Cornwall, from London to New York, with each member of the family facing their own mental and physical battles. Unlike a lot of books, When God was a Rabbit takes you on a journey rather than on a ride; there are no major ups or downs, everything is told like a memory, allowing you into the heart of the Portman family. Honestly, this book is about love in all its forms.

 

Sarah’s new book Tin Man isn’t out until July this year, but has received an abundance of praise and applause, with fellow author, Joanna Cannon hailing it as ‘exquisite’ and mental health advocate, Matt Haig calling it ‘an astoundingly beautiful book’. It follows Ellis and Michael from childhood into adulthood, and covers friendship, love and loss. Tin Man promises to break our hearts and touch our souls.

 

Sarah was charming, intelligent and incredibly down to earth; her outlook on love and life left us all with smiles on our faces.

 

 

Sarah Winman

Sarah Schmidt

If you haven’t yet seen the cover of Sarah Schmidt’s See What I Have Done all over social media in the last week, then you surely will do soon. See What I Have Done is about the Borden family who lived in America during the 1890s, and who had two family members brutally murdered in their home. The narrator of the book, Lizzie, was the daughter of the murdered couple and she was tried and acquitted of their murders. This famous story is one of America’s greatest unsolved mysteries, and Sarah magically transforms this real-life story into fictional gold. Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train says the book is ‘eerie and compelling’, whilst the Observer calls this debut ‘gory and gripping’.

 

Sarah was an absolute joy to listen to; her dry humour and love of all things dead had the audience in fits of laughter and queuing up afterwards to have a chat with her.

 

In June, Emerald Street will be hosting their annual Literary Festival at the Royal Geographical Society in London, and if this event was anything to go by, it’s going to be one massive success. For more information and tickets, click here.

 

Images: Sophia Chettleburgh