There are several elements that come together to make the Salon events the success they are: the gorgeous, lovingly refurbished building, the informal atmosphere, the drinks and food, the pop-up book shops — The Book Inn from Leigh-on-Sea and Hoxton Books.
But it is the high calibre of the guests that never fails to impress.
For the 9th May Salon, host Rachel Lichtenstein had gathered a small group of readers to read extracts of the books she had chosen to illustrate the night's topic. There was Alan Dein, broadcaster and oral historian, whose lively reading of a long evocative excerpt taken from Simon Blumenfeld's Jew Boy was one of the highlights of the evening; Justin Hopper, an American artist, writer and curator — currently in residence at Chalkwell Hall — was drafted in to add an authentic American voice to an action-packed extract — set in the Thames estuary — of H.G Wells's The War of the Worlds; eminent freelance journalist, writer and editor C.J. Schüler talked about and read an extract from Norbert Gstrein’s The English Years; finally, the ever engaging writer Syd Moore read a scene from the opening pages of her excellent novel The Drowning Pool (see my review of the book HERE) set in Leigh-on-Sea.
The reading list was incredibly diverse: from Jane Austen’s Emma to Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong; From Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould’s Mehalah —about which I had briefly blogged about HERE and which you can read HERE — to Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations — in order to see the landscape described in the book for yourself, you can actually do a walk around the Tollesbury area where this year’s BBC adaptation was shot.
SALON 9TH MAY reading list:
Jane Austen – Emma
Charles Dickens – Great Expectations
H.G.Wells - The War of the Worlds
Sylvia Townsend – The True Heart
Simon Blumenfeld – Jew Boy
Paul Gallico – The Snow Goose: A Story of Dunkirk
Warwick Deeping – Mr Gurney and Mr Slade
Sebastian Faulks – Birdsong
Bernard Cromwell - The Burning Land
Simon Schama - Landscape and Memory
Norbert Gstrein – The English Years
Syd Moore – The Drowning Pool
The next Salon event is on June 5th and will be dedicated to London in literature.