Related to: 'The Last of the Shackdwellers'

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.

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Maggie

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Fall in love with Lena Kennedy's remarkable first novel... Spanning four decades and four generations, this compelling family saga reveals the extraordinary life story of a resilient Cockney woman, MAGGIE.Raised in Stepney, the heart of London's East End, Maggie Riley is the only child of an Irish widower. When she becomes pregnant at the age of fifteen she is delighted, for it means she has captured her beloved Jim Burns.But life is a constant struggle - to bring up her four sons, to cope with a part-time husband, to 'better herself'. And that struggle is set against critical events of the era: the Depression, the Blackshirt marches, the devastation of World War II and its aftermath.With the skill of a natural storyteller, Lena Kennedy makes us share Maggie's life: we experience Maggie's hardships as she confronts poverty; we feel her grief when she sends her children off during the evacuation; we sympathise with her loneliness through the long years of the war; we share the impressions of her first trip abroad to South Africa and Australia. We rejoice in her triumphs and feel the sorrow of her tragedies.

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Autumn Alley

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
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Nelly Kelly

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

In the turmoil and confusion of London's East End between the wars, young Nelly Kelly soon learns that life may never match her expectations. Forced to keep house for her charming, yet autocratic, father, Nelly toils in a sweatshop to keep her family clothed and fed.But though life is hard, Nelly still has friendship, dancing and her early dreams to cling to. Dreams which slowly crumble as marriage, the war and a lost baby are followed by the heartache of a lost love.Fortune may crush her proud spirit but when faced with a crisis which will test her courage to the limit, no tragedy can change Nelly Kelly's determination to be her own woman.

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Lizzie

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

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Lady Penelope

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
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Susan

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Susan is a London slum child. Constricted by the rigid rules of the East End orphanage she is brought up in, she escapes to dazzling streets of Soho where she is adopted by a group of prostitutes. Soon enough, she too is earning her living 'on the game'.When Billy 'Apples' Rafferty, a Cockney villain with a heart of gold, becomes her protector, Sue swears to give up her racy life. But when Billy is sent to prison, she soon breaks her promise and her earthy beauty makes her one of Soho's most popular hostesses.When a lucky encounter secures Susan a respectable job as a manageress of a small hotel in Devon, things finally seem to be going her way. But then her past catches up with her . . .

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Lily, My Lovely

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
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Down Our Street

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
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The Dandelion Seed

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Like a dandelion seed adrift on the wayward winds, Marcelle de la Strange is an innocent in the decadent and dangerous London of James I.When her mother's violent death leaves Marcelle at the mercy of her lecherous stepfather, she can't help but be drawn to the dashing Thomas Mayhew, King's Messenger and attendant to the flamboyant court favourite Robert Carr, who offers her protection, freedom . . . and love.But such perfect happiness is brittle, vulnerable. A mysterious royal lover, tawny-haired and passionate, leaves Marcelle with child. Kidnapped by the powerful Howard family, the baby is an innocent pawn in a deadly political game and Marcelle's desperate search for her son threatens her reconciliation with Thomas, her health, and even her very sanity . . .

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The Inn On The Marsh

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Time alone would heal the sorrows of Hollinbury, bright dreams banish the old unhappy ghosts . . .The Malted Shovel, exuberant heart and soul of Hollinbury Hamlet, buzzed with talk while the ale flowed. Talk of Dumb Lukey's crazed acts and the romance between Lucinda and Joe Lee, the Thames bargee. Talk of the Crimea and the terror of Napoleon.At the tavern, hard-headed Beatrice and her sister Dot care for their invalid father and for Lucinda, their pretty orphaned niece. The inn is their livelihood but village business is ever Beat's business too. And now some dark cloud has descended on them all . . .

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Owen Oliver

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

A turbulent tale of a young man's growth from innocence to maturity in the harsh world of Victorian England.In the teeming heart of nineteenth-century London, Owen Oliver walks out of his gloomy, unwelcoming lodgings and doesn't stop his travels until he reaches Kent.There, Owen's life is dramatically altered. An orphan, he is adopted by a loving old lady and her roguish amicable son, Tom. With Tom's help, he secures employment in the shipping agency of an old sea captain and his fortunes start to increase.But Owen is not content. All around him he sees a widening gap between the comfortable middle classes and the helpless destitution of the poor. He is horrified by the plight of the thin and hungry and the evils of child labour.So when he takes the matter into his own hands and rescues a beautiful ragged child with haunting blue eyes and long golden hair, his fate is sealed . . .

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Kate of Clyve Shore

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
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Ivy of the Angel

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

A wealth of lively characters and true-to-life situations in this collection confirm Lena Kennedy's reputation as one of our most vivid and compelling storytellers.The title story, 'Ivy of the Angel', reveals why an elderly bag lady becomes the centre of attention in an Oxford Street store; 'The Lonely Road' is the tale of thwarted love in London's East End; 'The Willows Wept With Me', 'Linda's Revenge' and 'The Long Dream' are all examples of how the smooth surface of a buried past can be disrupted by the intrusions of the present.With the freshness and directness that have become her hallmark, Lena Kennedy explores the enduring power of love, the triumph of hope over adversity, the problems of illness and prejudice, and the quirky kindness of fate.

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Queenie's Castle

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Falling asleep on the bus after a hard day's work, Joe finds himself stranded in the East End, disorientated in the heavy fog and innocently embroiled in a violent encounter. The incident ends in murder and Joe is accused - of the real villains there remains not a trace.But his memory of that fateful night, and a clue to the identity of the murderers, helps him through his time in prison and fuels his desire to uncover the truth. His quest leads him back to the East End and to the Ship and Castle pub, run by the mysterious and formidable Queenie . . .

Adélaïde de Clermont-Tonnerre

This is Adélaïde de Clermont-Tonnerre's second novel. Her first, Fourrure, won five literary prizes in France. Le Dernier des Nôtres was the winner of both the Académie Francaise Grand Prix du Roman and the 2016 inaugural Filigranes prize, awarded to the book with the widest general appeal. It was on the longlist for the 2016 Renaudot prize, on the shortlist of four for the 2016 Landerneau prize, longlisted for the Prix de Flore.

Alan Titchmarsh

Alan Titchmarsh is known to millions through the popular BBC TV programmes British Isles: A Natural History, How to be a Gardener, Ground Force and Gardeners' World. But he started out in far humbler beginnings, in a rural childhood on the edge of Ilkley Moor in Yorkshire.After a spell at Kew he became a horticultural journalist, as an Editor of gardening magazines, before becoming a freelance broadcaster and writer.He has twice been named 'Gardening Writer of the Year' and for four successive years was voted 'Television Personality of the Year' by the Garden Writers' Guild. In 2004 he received their Lifetime Achievement Award.Alan has appeared on radio and television both as a gardening expert and as an interviewer and presenter, fronting such programmes as Points of View, Pebble Mill, Songs of Praise, Titchmarsh's Travels and Ask the Family, and since 1983 has presented the BBC's annual coverage of The Chelsea Flower Show. He now has his own daytime TV show on ITV, The Alan Titchmarsh Show. Alan has written more than forty gardening books, as well as seven best-selling novels, including his 2008 success, Folly, which have all made the Sunday Times Bestsellers List. Alan has published three volumes of memoirs; Trowel and Error sold over 200,000 copies in hardback when published in 2002, and Nobbut A Lad, about his Yorkshire childhood, was published in October 2006 with similar success, and his third volume of memoir Knave of Spadeswas a Sunday Times bestseller.He was made MBE in the millennium New Year Honours list and holds the Victoria Medal of Honour, the Royal Horticultural Society's highest award. He lives with his wife and a menagerie of animals in Hampshire where he gardens organically.

Alexandra Potter

Alexandra Potter was born in Yorkshire. Having lived in Los Angeles and Sydney after university, where she worked variously as a features editor and sub-editor for women's magazines including Elle, Company, Red and Australian Vogue, she now writes full time and lives between London and Los Angeles. She is the author of nine internationally bestselling novels of romantic fiction with a magical twist, including Don't You Forget About Me and Me and Mr Darcy, which won the Best New Fiction Award at the Jane Austen Regency World Awards 2007.You can find out more at www.alexandrapotter.com or on her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Alexandra.Potter.Author or follow Alexandra on Twitter @AlexPotterBooks.

Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller's first novel, Ingenious Pain, was published by Sceptre in 1997 and greeted as the debut of an outstanding new writer. It won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Grinzane Cavour Prize for the best foreign novel published in Italy.It has been followed by Casanova, Oxygen, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award in 2001, The Optimists, One Morning Like A Bird, Pure, which won the Costa Book of the Year Award 2011, and The Crossing.Andrew Miller's novels have been published in translation in twenty countries. Born in Bristol in 1960, he currently lives in Somerset.

Anna Jacobs

Anna Jacobs grew up in Lancashire and emigrated to Australia, but still visits the UK regularly to see her family and do research, something she loves. She is addicted to writing and figures she'll have to live to be 120 at least to tell all the stories that keep popping up in her imagination and nagging her to write them down. She's also addicted to her own hero, to whom she's been happily married for many years.She is the bestselling author of over eighty novels and has been shortlisted for several awards, and Pride of Lancashire won the Australian Romantic Book of the Year Award in 2006.You can find out more on her website, www.annajacobs.com or on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Anna.Jacobs.Books.

Antonia Hodgson

Antonia Hodgson's first novel, The Devil in the Marshalsea, won the CWA Historical Dagger 2014 and was shortlisted forthe Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year, the John Creasey Dagger for Best FirstNovel and the HWA Debut Crown. It was also a Richard & Judy and WaterstonesBook Club selection. Her second book, The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins, was published in 2015 to widespread critical acclaim.Antonia was born and grew up in Derby and studied English at the University ofLeeds. She lives in London, where she works as an editor. 2