Tag Farangi Girl

Tehran comes to the Lake District if you will…

The New Bookshop Cockermouth

The New Bookshop in Cockermouth (brewery round the corner!)


Cockermouth is in the North Lakes and is most famous for being the birthplace of the Wordsworths and, more recently, the terrible floods of 2009 which destroyed the High Street and with it The New Bookshop. Thankfully, all has been restored and replaced and very pretty it is too, although high water markers along the high street are a grim (if incredible) reminder.

Both Ashley & I have spoken at a lot of book groups in the last nine months, but it’s rare for us to do a double act as editor and author.

Farangi Girl bookgroup, The New Bookshop, Cockermouth, Travelling Editor

Watching her present her book is always fascinating, not least because she gives a detailed history of Iran and the West, the politics, double-dealings, the working of the ‘puppet’ Shah and the complexity of the region which forms the backdrop to her memoir. It is the stuff

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of spy novels and actually little enough known. She had also brought some wonderful photographs with her of the family which enrich her story still further.

Farangi Girl bookgroup, The New Bookshop, Cockermouth, Travelling Editor

Ashley, Gillian and Catherine at The New Bookshop

But, as often happens, of equally great interest was the process of writing and editing and how it works. Why, in fact, did Ashley decide to write the book in the first place? I’m attaching a link to an earlier blog of Ashley’s which answer some of those questions.

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Farangi Girl, Ashley DartnellJust outside Grantham (home of Mrs T and Isaac Newton) lies the small village of Orston (mentioned in the Domesday Book). It was dark when I went in and dark when I

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went out but for all that, it seemed very nice. The hospitality was lovely and the book group waiting for me at Elaine’s was terrific. All the book groups I go to are tremendously nice, I hear of fictional fisticuffs in other groups but I’m not at all disappointed to say I have yet to encounter it. And such enthusiastic readers, even those coming to it later in life, or using the discipline of a book club to make sure they read at last one book a month. I often think that publishers sitting in their offices could be immensely cheered up by spending more time meeting readers and spending less time fretting. continue reading »

Guest Blogger: Ashley Dartnell, author of Farangi Girl

Ashley Dartnell at Albany, Farangi Girl

Ashley signs a copy of Farangi Girl at Albany

The evening I look forward to most each month is my book group, because it combines some of the things I love most in the world: wonderful friends, great conversation, lovely food and, of course, books.  This autumn, I have been lucky enough to attend a couple of book groups each week to talk about Farangi Girl. What I have found is that my book group is no exception—all of them are magical.  All over London, in Suffolk, and the Cotswolds I have been welcomed by book lovers who have read Farangi Girl. And when I say read, I mean pored over, memorised, re-read, analysed, studied—and loved.  Which, I am grateful to say, has been absolutely amazing. continue reading »

First-time author, Ashley Dartnell, is our guest blogger this month. Farangi Girl was published in June

‘Just put your anxiety aside and write the book.’

Ashley DartnellThis was the advice my teacher (the writer Blake Morrison) gave me as I spiralled through yet another cycle of self doubt. I was in the second year of an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths. I had given up my job to do the course, my husband had just lost his job and my six year old had just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. What Blake was referring to was not any of those problems but my chronic unease about the subject matter of my book. This was despite the fact that I had applied to Goldsmiths after twenty-five years of working in business and media explicitly to write this particular book: an autobiographical memoir of my growing up in Iran during the time of the Shah.

What was causing such disquiet, as Graham Greene so brilliantly put it, was ‘the bitterness leaks again out of my pen.’ I was upset and horrified at how much anger, how much bitterness was flowing out of me. Every day, I would sit at my desk in a trance: lost in the sights, sounds and emotions of my childhood. At the end of the day, after I switched off my computer, if anyone asked me what I had written, I had absolutely no idea. The material was coming from some very deep and well hidden reservoir. The next morning I would read through what I had written in a state of anticipation and despair—the scenes of my childhood were so vivid and often difficult and sad.

And, the secrets—so many secrets! All my life I had successfully avoided thinking about the complicated web of secrets my mother had woven. Now I was untangling the strands of deceit and obfuscation and it was painful.

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