A “BEAUTIFUL stylist” of language with the ability to turn books into “companions”, brought the tales of remarkable women from across the centuries into the upper echelons of a Taunton bookshop earlier this month.
Sara Wheeler, the travel writer who made her name trekking across Antarctica, presented her multi-biographical work, O My America! in the cosy enclave of Brendon Books, Bath Place, as a follow-on from Taunton Literary Festival.
What unravelled was a thought-sparking exploration of the fear of ageing and female bravery; tripping up convention, and giving society a shake-up.
In O My America! Wheeler traces the stories of six women, spanning a fifty year period in the 19th century, who fled England for America, and rebirth. Each, with starkly different tales to tell: As the woman who forged a career out of chronic itchiness of feet, her partner in that night's “informal conversation”, writer and critic Alexander Waugh, put it to Sara that she has found comfort, or a mirror, in the women she'd analysed.
Sara allowed it. “I'm sort of allergic to domesticity - I have nightmares of the curtain department in John Lewis,” she jested.
“I do like the polarity between going back and coming away… there's a lot about civilisation and domesticity that I like, but when you do settle down, an inner tension does come into the equation.”
THE next Brendon Book event at the shop in Taunton's Bath Place is at 11am on Saturday with author, poet and dramatist Julia Copus giving a free reading of her first children's book, 'Hog in the Fog'.