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'.