Cast your mind back. Bit further ... bit further ... That's it! Stop right there and scroll down a bit. That's when I first mentioned the wonderful Shelley Harris when she won the Authonomy Live event at York in 2010. I predicted then that life would change for Shelley and I was right. (I often am; just ask my kids.)
Now move forward a bit to here. This is where I talked about Shelley's success with signing with an agent who negotiated a fab deal for her with Weidenfeld & Nicolson following a bidding war. (What a wonderful phrase that is; one which every author yearns to hear.)
Right, so now we're up to speed, let me update you. Jubilee was published at the end of December and I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy. And ... it's brilliant! The book has parallel timelines, each of which is equally compelling, one set in 1977, the year of the Silver Jubilee, and one in the present day. The main characters were subjects in an iconic photograph at a Jubilee street party and there's a plan to recreate the setting decades later, now that they are all adults. With themes revolving round what it means to be British, the impact of racial hatred, buried memories, corrosive hidden secrets and unhealed wounds, Shelley has created a highly impressive debut novel. Anyone who can remember back to the 70s will recognise the political and emotional landscape she draws with such skill and her flawed characters are conveyed with humanity and insight. As an ex-professional photographer, I particularly love the way she explores what is happening around the frozen micro second of a shutter click; what is seen and what is hidden.
Meanwhile, go and buy her book. It really is very good, y'know.