Marianne and Leonard - was it really romantic?

October 17, 2019

I finally saw the documentary Marianne and Leonard: Words of Love. I have to say I was left a little cold, by the end I liked neither Cohen nor Marianne. He was easy to dislike, taking her for granted while sniffing after every adoring female fan. But Marianne gave herself to him with so few conditions, even putting her son in a British boarding school so she could travel with Cohen. OK, maybe I’m not a romantic, but love of your child should surely come before love of a philanderer who has sex with so many other women, and even writes about it. Interestingly, my husband was more sympathetic to Marianne than I was, he said he found her abandonment by Cohen tragic.
Tamar Hodes, author of The Water and the Wine, bases her novel on her childhood on Hydra in the 1960s. Her parents took her there when she was young, and she watched the adults tear each other apart in their quest for love, sex and art. Nick Broomfield’s documentary, echoes Tamar’s novel on the destructive outcome of the bohemian lifestyle on adults and children. Marianne’s son, Axel, has had drug addictions and spent much of his adult life institutionalised, other children of artists on the island have turned to suicide.
Hydra remains home to many artists, but they work quietly behind the high walls of their homes, a few with open studios. I would hate anyone to be turned off Hydra by the film’s focus on drugs and easy sex. Hydra can still bring peace to the soul. One of Cohen’s friends says in the documentary that simply arriving in the harbour makes him feel like he’s come home. My own sentiments precisely. I visit the island every year. I relax and renew while there. Usually, there are Leonard Cohen fans around, visiting his old home and listening to his music while sitting at his memorial. But there is so much more to Hydra than Leonard Cohen. An absence of cars give the island a peace that settles into your bones, creating a tranquillity that is hard to find elsewhere. So, it is hardly surprising that Leonard Cohen created his early work on the island.


Fiction can shine a light on reality

October 9, 2019

Last week I wrote that fiction can reach behind fact and put clothes on a true story.
This week a reader wrote to me of the connection she felt with one of our crime novels, and her experience echoed readers of another of our crime novels.
I thought our crime novels were simply about crime. They tell stories of bad things done and the detectives try to solve those bad things.
Hear Me by Julia North involves a murder. Who Killed Anne-Marie? is not such so straight forward. However, the interest...

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Facts and fiction in storytelling

October 1, 2019

Whether you are a fan of Leonard Cohen or not, you have likely heard of the new film, Marianne and Leonard: Words of Love. The documentary on the romance between Cohen and Marianne Ihlen has been well received. At Hookline, we have our own take on the story with the novel The Water and the Wine by Tamar Hodes. Tamar lived on Hydra as a child, and Cohen and Marianne were her neighbours.
While Nick Broomfield’s film is a documentary, Tamar’s story is fictional. You might think factual gives...

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Let us tell you a story

September 29, 2019

I am new to audio books. I started with Stephen Fry and his Mythos and found that listening rather than reading allows my imagination to go further – a bit like being told a story as a child, I can see the Gods and monsters rather than being distracted by grey text. When I finished listening to Mythos, I stayed in Greece and downloaded My Family and Other Creatures by Gerald Durrell, and I have to say it made me laugh out loud. However, not all stories transfer well to audio. A crime novel ...

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Just a little bit of recognition

September 18, 2019

It’s easy to feel little when you are a small publisher – going to book fairs and looking at your panel of twenty novels lost in the vast space dominated by the Penguin, Random, Harper Collins, MacMillan, Simon & Schuster and Hachette and all their glossy titles.
Thankfully I belong to the Independent Publisher Conference (IPG), a guild of small, innovative, hard-working publishers who are filled with enthusiastic zeal and wholeheartedly believe that their books have merit with consumers....

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Some of my best friends are books

September 16, 2019

I read Overstory by Richard Powers for a book group. Many friends tell me they gave up on it as the 640-page tale of environmentalists lured to crime stretched too far. I have to say that while I grew weary at moments, I cared enough to keep going. But then I often like long novels – Tolstoy’s War and Peace, I have read twice; same with Anna Karenina and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.
However, I am also a woman who gives up on a book after 100 pages. I believe it’s my life, my time ...

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Just Me

Yvonne Barlow Editor at Hookline Books