Francesca Kay Visits Books on the Broad Reading Group
by Kate Wilson
Francesca Kay visited the Books on the Broad Reading Group in Oxford on Monday, 3 November, 2014, to discuss her debut novel An Equal Stillness, which won her The Orange Award for New Writers (2009). This was an award given to support hitherto unpublished women writers at a crucial stage in their development.
As a reading group we have quite an association with Orange Awards, having ourselves won the Penguin/Orange Prize for Readers' Groups in 2007. As part of our prize we had a visit from the author Naomi Alderman, who was the winner of the then 2007 Award for New Writers (See link on the right.) So we considered ourselves three times lucky when Francesca accepted our invitation to come and talk with our group.
Francesca was very tolerant of our questions and proved herself not only an excellent listener, but a fluent speaker.
Francesca is pictured below with her book, An Equal Stillness, with some members of our group.
Francesco (sic) in the background left, is also holding a copy of Francesca's second book The Translation of the Bones, which was long listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2011. (The Orange Prize for Fiction has subsequently been renamed the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction after Orange withdrew its sponsorship in 2012).
An Equal Stillness, is the story of the life of a fictional artist, Jennet Mallow, who born in 1924, challenges conventional expectations of women to become the greatest painter of her generation. Despite the beginnings of recognition, in the early years she is constantly faced by the single dilemma - Life or Art? - as she struggles within an unhappy marriage to fulfil the roles of wife, mother and inevitably, domestic drudge, whilst remaining true to herself and her vocation. Amid the conflicts and betrayals which mark her path, Francesca gradually finds the balance between body and soul hinted at in the title. This book is an intense and passionate homage to the creative spirit and the love of life in an age still blighted by the shadows of two world wars and will delight those who respond to the sensuous appeal of paint and canvas and the giddy reach of poetry.