This began with a newspaper cutting given to me by one of my writing friends, Henrietta Branford. It was the true story of a woman who had lived outside in her garden for years, shielded by umbrellas. It seemed that she died of old age rather than hyperthermia; no one knew why she had take to outdoor living. I decided to take up her story, bring her to life. She had been called ‘the bird woman’.
Originally intending it to be a short story, the ending, ‘And waited for the day when Eva would come.’ required another story of Eva who was the mother of ‘the angel child’ who … and so on and on and on.
Set in the magically real worlds of a market garden, a fairground and an unnamed land in South America, passionate love, prejudice and cruelty claim their victims. The angel child kills her father rather than another woman occupy his bed; love with the balloon man ends in tragedy when he wakes to find her body blistered by his hot breath. A fortune teller, whose helpmate is a rainbow; a disillusioned priest searching for a father brings back a bragging liar and a rape victim; a woman who has lived life like a bird; the disparate fair folk; how does the child, Miserere, find humour and healing amongst this motley crowd?
The language is poetic, the natural world a vivid background to the novel.
This was the novel which my agent took up with ‘A Retrospective’ and was liked by a publisher but not, at that time, enough to take it on.
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