One of my favourite sections in The Guardian is the Review section – largely made up of book reviews. For about 18 months, the section featured a weekly extract in the ongoing story of Tamara Drewe. Initially I didn’t read the strip. Then I realised that I needed to catch up, but didn’t get around to it. Then I decided to catch up online, but unusually the full story was not now completely available.
So I waited until this book was finally published. Posy Simmonds has polished it up a little for publication, but it’s not that you’d notice.
Beth runs a writers’ retreat somewhere in the countryside, but she has her own problems with her writer husband who is serially unfaithful to her as she edits his books and looks after him in general. The cast of characters is filled out with a young gardener who no longer lives in his family home, and an American long-staying writer who’s trying to get his book off the ground unconvincingly.
Into this midst comes Tamara who’s an arrivist young writer from London who once lived in the area but has now reappeared following some rhinoplasty and with her London newspaper column. She’s trouble… at least trouble seems to follow her around.
The book is actually a retelling of Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd. I say “actually” but having never read the Hardy novel, I didn’t know this until I’d read it.
But I did really enjoy it, and the book is lavishly printed and published.