On Sunday we had a rare treat - a trip out to a stately home to celebrate the launch of local author Deborah Swift's latest novel.
Unlike previous events I've attended, this was very much not an official Book Launch (capital B, capital L) with the author 'on duty' and umpteen representatives from the publisher scattered about. Deborah did read from the book, and a lady from Macmillan came along from the ride, but apart from that it was more a gathering of family and friends, to celebrate an exciting new arrival. In fact, it had more in common with a christening than a launch!
Deborah writes historical romance, concentrating on everyday folk rather than the kings and queens so beloved of other writers in the genre like Jean Plaidy or Phillipa Gregory. So it was entirely appropriate that she'd hired a local 'Big House', Leighton Hall, for the afternoon. The Hall isn't one of those grand stately piles so beloved of the National Trust, where vast echoing spaces are roped off, so the visiting hordes can 'ooh' and 'ahh' from a safe distance. Instead this is a family home, occupied in one form or other, by one family or another, for over eight hundred years. The most recent owners are the Gillow family, famous for furniture manufacture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, who have turned the place into a comfortable, welcoming home stuffed with interesting examples of their work. Because of this, and a memorably entertaining guide called Pam, the tour was fascinating.
After that we trooped into the Music Room for a reading from Deborah's novel, A Divided Inheritance, a seventeenth century romp involving feisty heroines and wicked cousins. Although historical romance isn't really my cup of tea, the reading was light-hearted and entertaining, and felt very much at home in a cosy room with a real log fire blazing on the grate.
And after that, we all trooped off again, this time to the restaurant for a free (and groaningly generous) afternoon tea. Scones, jam, cream, sandwiches, cake... what more could a girl ask for?
We had to leave early as Dave was heading for Manchester airport later in the evening, to try to beat the incoming Great Storm of St Jude. (He made it to Manchester okay, but the flight's another story.) So I missed Deborah's second reading involving wicked Cousin Zachary.
All in all, though, this was a lovely afternoon with friendly people in a beautiful setting, and something I'll be remembering if I ever get to do a book launch of my own.