I never knew that there were events that were FREE to attendees EVERY SINGLE DAY of the week of the Oxford Literary Festival, which takes place annually at the beginning of April. But apparently, there are free events for all ages throughout the week, with the weekend slots being given over to local authors.
All the free events took place in Blackwell’s Festival Marquee, which had been set up in the courtyard of the Bodleian Library, opposite the famous Blackwell’s shop in Broad Street. Underneath my photo of Broad Street, you’ll see photos of Blackwell’s and of their Festival Marquee.
I hadn’t known about the marquee events until I was invited by author Sylvia Vetta, a fellow member of the Oxford Writers’ Group, whose publishing arm is Oxpens, to go to her talk about how she came to write Brushstrokes in Time, a beautiful and moving account of life in the dreadful, oppressive regime that flourished in China in so recent a past.
Arriving at the marquee on the Saturday morning, I found myself surrounded by books on one side, a café on the other and the sight of a lounge at the far end. Sheer bliss! I bought a couple of books and a coffee, and wandered down the marquee to the Shakespeare Lounge, which overlooked the beautiful Bridge of Sighs, and there I took a seat.
Below you have the view from my sofa looking ahead towards the books, and my view when I turned to look through the window behind me.
I’m happy to say that the talks were sandwiched in the most pleasant way possible – the sandwich filling was lunch with friends in a venue not far from the marquee.
Before our lunch, I listened to Sylvia’s fascinating and informative talk, after which she signed books.
And after the lunch, I went back to the marquee to hear Barbara Hudson give an amusing introduction to her debut novel, Timed Out, in which her central character, deciding that retirement was not the end, but a new beginning, placed a lonely hearts’ advertisement on the Internet and embarked on her new life, suffering disappointments and learning hard truths about herself.
And here are the covers of Sylvia’s and Barbara’s novels.
After the marquee events, I couldn’t resist going across the road to Blackwell’s. And lo and behold – look what I found on the shelf!
And now it’s time for me to stop writing and to get on with reading one of the novels I bought last Saturday, so I’ll say goodbye for this week!