Sunday 13 March 2011

Emily Woof - The Whole Wide Beauty and Lunching in Leeds

I went off to Leeds yesterday to meet up with friends from the ReaditSwapit forum, we met for lunch at Henry's and stayed for the whole afternoon.

We always have a great time at Henrys, they are very accommodating to a crowd of fairly noisy book lovers, the food is always great and the staff are very friendly.  I don't envy whoever has to clear up after us though!  

ReaditSwapit is one of the reasons why I receive so many parcels through the posts - it's a simple idea really; once you've read a book, list it on the site and either request to swap it for another book that someone else owns or sit back and wait for someone to request a swap with you.   It's all based on trust, you send a book, the other swapper sends a book - fair exchange, simple and sweet.

Over the years, swappers have become friends and we've met up all over the country and Northern Ireland, we are all different yet all love reading, so there is always lots of book discussion and lots of books exchanged.

Earlier in the week I'd received a copy of The Whole Wide Beauty by Emily Woof from Alex at Faber and thanks to the lengthy train journey to Leeds, I read most of it yesterday and finished it off this morning.

Emily Woof is a well known actress who has starred in the likes of The Full Monty and Middlemarch.  This is her debut novel.

These are my thoughts:

'The Whole Wide Beauty' is a character led story, and although of course there is a plot and various stories that interlink, it is the strength of the characters that carry the novel.    None of the main characters are particularly likeable, which for me, made them more interesting and unpredictable.   Katherine, the main character is a retired dancer, now a music teacher in a school for 'troublesome' boys and has just embarked on an affair with Stephen, a poet who is a protegee of Katherine's father.    Her father, David is a rather pompous and totally self-absorbed, he has spent his life trying to build up his poetry foundation, with his wife and children always coming a poor second.
The one character that I did like was May, Katherine's mother and David's wife, she's totally independent, carries on working  and doing as she pleases and although at first she appears a little cold, by the end of the story her real emotion and feelings are shown to the reader.
I found this an intense and absorbing read, one that exposed the relationships within this family, the 'back' stories gave an insight into the sometimes puzzling behaviour of some of the characters.
There is a real passion in this writing, the novel slowly unravels into quite an emotional and absorbing read.


  1. Great photo!

    RiSi has a great community on the forum and am happy to be part of that. :)