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Amaryllis Celebrates Her Independence

So, I had just got over the dire man Booker shortlist and was luxuriating in animated book group discussions when some self important Italian journalist came up with his nasty little expose… Having trawled through her financial transactions – is that even legal? – Claudio Gatti triumphantly proclaimed that Elena Ferrante, author of some of the best books I have read in the last few decades, was not actually Elena Ferrante. She is in fact, well you’ll have to read his article yourself because I didn’t want to know and, as far as I can make out, nor did anyone else apart from Mr Gatti himself. She, Ferrante, as she will always be to me, has consistently avoided publicity and asked repeatedly to remain anonymous. In an age of the selfie and gross over- self publicity, her writing is a pure gift to the reader, an unalloyed narrative with no strings. But Mr Gatti is obviously of the type (male) that thinks that when a person (female) says one thing, she means the exact opposite. He says she is fair game because she has lied about her background in her forthcoming book of essays: obviously not an Agatha Christie fan or he would have heard of red herrings… His article seems to imply outrage that she has commanded large sums from best selling novels under a pen name when presumabably she has foregone large sums by refusing to cash in on her very deserved success. Anyway, for me and everyone I have spoken to, the books speak for themselves. However incalculable damage will have been done by Mr Gatti if Ferrante never publishes again as she has said would be the result of a loss of her anonymity. [T writes, we will not be linking to the offending article, for obvious reasons]  
Interestingly, we read All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville West in our classics book club yesterday: Lady Slade, 88 years old and recently widowed decides, to the discomfort of her children, that she wants to move to a small house in Hampstead. She does so and having practically barred said horrible children and too youthful grandchildren from the house, settles down to a life of freedom and contemplation for the first time in her life. Vita Sackville West wrote the book as a response to and reflection on Virginia woolf’s A Room Of Her Own, a book still pertinent in the violation of Ferrante’s freedom and space by a self-righteous crusader in search of a story.
 
Tomorrow is the first National Bookshop Day. I am not a fan generally of ‘days’ – too exclusive! Valentine’s Day/Mother’s Day not really great for the single and childfree, dripping with sentiment and overpriced roses as if we can’t show love and appreciation unless everyone else is doing it too. Of course, Easter Day is different because it involves chocolate and partners and children are not necessary and not in fact desirable in order not to have to share.
 
I can’t decide about a National Bookshop Day – it doesn’t really hurt anyone but it feels unnecessary – everyday is potentially a day to visit a bookshop and we are not sheep and some people may not want or need a book tomorrow! But to grace the occasion I have decided to create a special window of all my favourite books, well, not all obviously, as big as our window is, it’s not that big! Also, I think we might as well have some chocolate!

About Amaryllis

 

Amaryllis is our bookshop blogger.

 

Her pen name is taken from Alice Thomas Ellis’ Other Side of the Fire, which is unfortunately and scandalously out of print. One of the funniest bits in the book is the bodice-ripper that one of the characters is writing and the female - who slays the men with one toss of her raven locks and one glance from her fiery green eyes as she strides among the glens, faithful wolfhound by her side - is Amaryllis! And the name just seemed to suit so here we are.

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