Janet Ellis will be at The Books That Built Me on Tuesday 18th October 2016 to talk about her astonishing first novel, The Butcher's Hook, and about the books that have inspired her, and helped her hone her craft.
Of course, Janet Ellis will be familiar to many from her long and varied career in television - she was one of my favourite Blue Peter presenters as a child - and as mother of Sophie Ellis-Bextor, but joining the prestigious Curtis Brown writing school allowed her to fulfil a long-cherished ambition to write a novel. Her agent submitted The Butcher's Hook to publishers under a pseudonym: the ensuing bidding war between rival publishers resulted in a six figure two book deal with Two Rivers - almost unheard of for a debut novelist.
The Butcher's Hook is a dark, gothic story set in eighteenth century London - its damaged, vulnerable yet compelling heroine, Anne Jaccob, is the only surviving child of comfortably off parents, yet her mother, worn out by miscarriages and still births, is only a shadowy presence, and her father seems not to see the point of his daughter, except as someone who can be married off. Friendless, lonely, yet sharp-witted and imaginative, Anne falls for the butcher's boy, and the consequences of a bright, bold girl starved of affection are darker than anyone could have anticipated.
The Butcher's Hook is meticulously researched, offering a vivid picture of life in 1760 and its part of Ellis' skill that its protagonist, Anne, remains both appealing and vulnerable despite her transgressions. I'm dying to discover how Janet Ellis' reading fired her ambition to be a writer, and became the building blocks for this astonishing debut.
Join me at The Books That Built Me with Janet Ellis on Tuesday 18th October 2016 at the Club at Cafe Royal. The salon starts at 6.30 and finishes by 8.15, and tickets include a copy of The Butcher's Hook, a glass of Champagne Bollinger, a bar of Prestat chocolate and a six month subscription to Harper's Bazaar.