Related to: 'The Soldier's Return'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

Sceptre

The Hired Man

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg
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A Place in England

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg

Joseph Tallantire has hope and ambition - like his father before him he is determined to make something of himself and improve his lot. But life is not easy for an uneducated young man in Cumberland before and during World War II, and Joseph's struggle against the odds is the subject of this moving and evocative novel. Suffering hardship and humiliation but eventually achieving a position of some independence, Joseph serves as a tribute to the many like him who lived through one of Britain's periods of greatest social change.(P) 2015 Hodder & Stoughton

Sceptre

Kingdom Come

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg
Sceptre

Now is the Time

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg

In this gripping novel, Melvyn Bragg brings an extraordinary episode in English history to fresh, urgent life.At the end of May 1381, the fourteen-year-old King of England had reason to be fearful: the plague had returned, the royal coffers were empty and a draconian poll tax was being widely evaded. Yet Richard, bolstered by his powerful, admired mother, felt secure in his God-given right to reign. But within two weeks, the unthinkable happened: a vast force of common people invaded London, led by a former soldier, Walter Tyler, and the radical preacher John Ball, demanding freedom, equality and the complete uprooting of the Church and state. And for three intense, violent days, it looked as if they would sweep all before them.Now is the Time depicts the events of the Peasants' Revolt on both a grand and intimate scale, vividly portraying its central figures and telling an archetypal tale of an epic struggle between the powerful and the apparently powerless.

Sceptre

Grace and Mary

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg
Hodder & Stoughton

The Book of Books

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg
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The South Bank Show: Final Cut

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg
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In Our Time

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg

Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time series regularly enlightens and entertains substantial audiences on BBC Radio 4. For this book he has selected episodes which reflect the diversity of the radio programmes, and takes us on an amazing tour through the history of ideas, from philosophy, physics and history to religion, literature and biology. We can discover the reasons for the fall of the Byzantine empire, and why women were persecuted as witches in the seventeenth century. What shape is the origin of life? Where does our calendar come from? We can unearth the influence of prime numbers, Socrates and Tectonic plates. Melvyn Bragg orchestrates the ideas of leading academics in each field so that the dynamic and lively discussion from the programmes comes through vividly on the page. IN OUR TIME brings to life the signposts of history, the moments that significantly changed the world as we know it, and the individuals and ideas that made us what we are today.

Hodder Paperbacks

Rich: The Life of Richard Burton

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg

Richard Burton: star. The roaring boy from the Welsh coal valleys who came to sport on the banks of the old Nile, playing great Antony to Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra. From the West End to Hollywood, from Camelot to Shakespeare, he drank, dazzled and despaired, playing out his life on the public stage. But there was another, quieter, off-stage Richard Burton, a face hidden from the multitude.Melvyn Bragg, allowed free access to the never-before-revealed Burton private notebooks, and with the cooperation of friends who have never spoken about him before, has brought together the private and public sides for the first time. Rich is the complete Richard Burton: a revelation.

Sceptre

Remember Me...

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg
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Credo

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg
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The Adventure Of English

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg
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A Son of War

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg

Longlisted for the Booker Prize After the upheavals of the Second World War, the Richardson family - Sam, Ellen and their young son Joe - settle back to working-class life in the Cumbrian town of Wigton. Yet for them, as for so many, life will never be the same again. As the old order begins to be challenged and new vistas open, Sam and Ellen forge their future together with differing needs and desires - and conflicting expectations of Joe, who grows up with his own demons to confront.

Sceptre

Autumn Manoeuvres

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg

Jimmie Johnston first became a Labour MP in Cumbria when there was a brave new post-war world to build. Now, in the late 70s, another general election looms but he is no longer so optimistic. And as he fights to keep his seat, his family begins to fracture around him and scandal threatens. In this absorbing and fast-paced novel, Melvyn Bragg's portrait of the mood and politics of the era remains as pertinent today as on its original publication.

Sceptre

Time To Dance

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg
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The Nerve

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg
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The Silken Net

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg

Half-French with an agile, inquiring mind, Rosemary Lewis cannot help being out of the ordinary in Thurston, the Cumbrian market town where she grows up between the wars. An early, bruising failure in love drives her inwards to the solace of books until she meets Edgar - vigorous, down to earth and determined to win her. Charting their life together, this powerful novel probes with exceptional acuity the heights and tortured depths of a bond that becomes a shackle.

Sceptre

For Want of a Nail

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg

Growing up in an isolated cottage in the hills of Cumberland, Tom knows the bitter cold of shooting expeditions with his grandfather and long evenings spent with his father and mother. But taken away from the hills to live in the small town of Thornton, Tom experiences a tumult of conflicting emotions which he must master before he can come to terms with his identity.First published in 1965, FOR WANT OF A NAIL was acclaimed as the debut of a distinctive and talented new writer.

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The Second Inheritance

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg
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Without a City Wall

Melvyn Bragg
Authors:
Melvyn Bragg