‘Housewife Writes Bestseller – A Tale of Life & Luck’
One Thursday in July, 1989, beneath the headline, Obsession That Became A Bestseller, the Daily Mail featured a photo of a young woman looking like a lottery winner. The Sun’s piece was cheekier: Mum Makes A Million, appeared beside the boobs on Page Three.
Ann Victoria Roberts hadn’t posed naked and hadn’t won a fortune. She’d written a novel that prompted a bidding war for publishing rights across the world. In the eyes of the press, the fact that Ann was not a career woman, but simply a wife and mother, was newsworthy.
In this memoir, the author reflects on the joys, the travels and the heartaches of her life as a sea-captain’s wife – and the decade of coincidences and lucky strikes that led to the writing of two big historical novels, Louisa Elliott and Liam’s Story. Amidst the fanfares and famous names, and the journey that took her from York to Australia and back, Ann reveals the work behind the success, and the truth behind her characters.
As readers, we browse in bookshops, spot a favourite author or intriguing title, and take it home. Rarely do we consider the path that book must have taken from the author’s pen to a bookshop shelf. And yet the story behind it is often stranger than the fiction it contains…..
This is a book that was out of my comfort zone. I’m not a reader of historical fiction and only the occasional memoir, but for some reason this book piqued my interest. Whether it was the title or the subject matter I couldn’t say; but I decided to give it a go.
As I said I’m not a reader of historical fiction and certainly not this author’s. As with any book the author has to research and whilst doing this the author was struck by similarities between her fictional subjects and her own family.
At first sight, this book might be regarded as the memoir of a woman with a burning ambition to write and publish a book. It is more than that. It is the “memoir” of a book. Well, not one, but two books as it transpires. They have their genesis when Ann discovers a personal diary of a relative who was killed in the carnage of WWI. The discovery stimulates Ann, who is already a voracious reader, to begin enquiries into the history of her family and this soldier in particular. She has visions of writing a novel based on the information she gleans from the diary. A diary which, she later learns, may well have instigated significant punishment had it been discovered.
As she writes the novel she finds similarities in her own family history. But you know what they say fact is stranger than fiction or could they be bed fellows. This is the story of a book within a book. And though it is a memoir it reads like a novel, the writing is really that good. Housewife Writes Bestseller is difficult to put down. The book provides great insight into the home life of a writer as she deals with family affairs. If you like memoirs with an insight into the writer’s craft then this book is recommended.