news about Jessica Mann
DEAD WOMAN WALKING
Andrew Taylor in The Spectator
This is a complex and chilling story, with many shifts of perspective and timeframe. The quality of the writing shines out. The question of changing identity is crucial — not just of individuals but of women in British society over the last half-century. Beneath it all is an elegiac note of regret, a sense of wrong choices with long consequences.
Barry Forshaw in Crime Time
In this economical but authoritative novel Mann demonstrates that her skill in the field of malign human behaviour remains as ironclad as ever….and as ever with this author, the intelligent and complex texture of the novel matches its sheer story telling nous.
Martin Edwards said:
A book to savour…This is also a novel of ideas, about feminism, family and literature….as you would expect with Jessica Mann, it’s a very well written as well as a poignant book, and I’m delighted to have read it.
The Western Morning News:
Engaging, enthralling and hugely entertaining…..
THE FIFTIES MYSTIQUE |
‘Jessica Mann analyses the decade with forensic precision - stripping away the rose-coloured specs for good' --Daily Mail
'thoughtful and emphatic ... a richly readable and persuasive piece of work' Dame Penelope Lively in the Spectator
'She recalls the grime of the 50s: endless stinking nappy buckets; smog; inadequate washing facilities; body odour whenever people were crowded together. She recalls boredom and isolation, and suspects both the child-rearing experts and the government of a concerted push to get mothers back home after the war, so that there would be jobs for the returning 'boys'. And she recalls the unacceptability of talking, or sometimes even knowing, about sex, female anatomy, and cancer. She is bang on' --Baroness Julia Neuberger, Jewish
‘An excellently readable book’ Katharine Whitehorn in The Literary Review
THE MYSTERY WRITER
Allison and Busby.
The Mystery Writer was the Book Club Choice for June 2009 - see the publisher's website for readers' questions and my answers.
To read the review by Maxine Clarke in Eurocrime follow this link
‘Blurring the boundary between fact and fiction usually makes me feel queasy, as if I'm walking on quicksand. But Jessica Mann controls her material so cleverly that even when she comes up against her fictional characters there's a seamless transition between the two worlds. I've still no idea who is real and who isn't; how many murders were actually committed? But this does not seem to matter. The essence of Jessica Mann's tale feels true, and it's a gripping read.’ Kate Chisholm in The Sunday Telegraph
‘A warm, pleasurable read and not too hard on the grey cells.' Kate Saunders in The Times
It's been fascinating to embark on the process of making my books available for e-readers .
The work's been done by Matt Horner of Sea View Media .
The cover picture of Telling Only Lies is from a painting by Harold Harvey,
and the brilliantly sinister illustration on A Private Inquiry is by the Cornish artist Philip Lyons .
A correction: I never said and it is not the case that I'm giving up reviewing crime fiction, as was reported in The Observer newspaper on Sunday 25 October. What I did say is that I've had enough torture-porn - which is a very small subsection of crime fiction - and won't review that any more. JM.
Godrevy Light (Twelveheads Press) - by Charles
Thomas and Jessica Mann, is the first book we have written together.
are plus the lighthouse, in a force 8 gale:
Western Morning News Article.
You can read a talk I gave at the
Barbican by following
THE MYSTERY WRITER
Allison and Busby, £4.99 hardback, and £.99 paperback.
I started writing The Mystery Writer while I was still working on Out of Harm's Way, which is a non-fiction book telling the story of the overseas evacuation of children from Britain during the Second World War. I was one of those evacuees myself but remember nothing at all about my early childhood in Canada and America so the information is derived from other peoples' memories and documentary research. The natural tendency of a novelist is to make things up but in writing Out of Harm's Way I resisted that temptation and stuck firmly to the facts. Some of those facts are the basis of this story. Turning them into fiction left me free to invent and embellish, bringing together history and imagination, actual places and altered ones, real people and others who never existed, though the only real name I have used is my own.. The Mystery Writer contains some truths and some untruths. In literature, as in life, it is not always obvious which is which.
The Mystery Writer was the Book Club Choice for June 2009 -
see the publisher's website
for readers' questions and my answers.
To read the review by Maxine Clarke in Eurocrime follow
The Sunday Telegraph 16/04/06
Kate Chisholm reviews The Mystery Writer by Jessica Mann
When Jessica Mann published a newspaper article about the sinking of the SS City of Benares by German torpedoes in 1940 while on its way to Canada with a cargo of child evacuees, she received such a torrent of mail that she realised there was a long-repressed Second World War story to be told. She turned her original feature into a bestselling book, Out of Harm's Way, but there was still, she felt, much more to tell. She herself had been evacuated, aged two, and there were loose ends and hidden emotions which she wanted to explore without being constrained by the documentary format.
The Mystery Writer, her latest novel, begins with a bracingly realistic account of the shipwreck of the Benares through the eyes of two of the children, both from Trevena, a village in Cornwall. They grew up, however, in very different worlds: Jonathan Hicks was the pampered son of the posh family living at the big house of Goonzoyle, while Ted Johns came from below stairs. Both boys were reported to have died in the shipwreck, but in truth one of them survived. Which one?
Enter Jessica Mann, with her crime-writer hat on, and her recollection of a nightmare day in 1976. She was living in Cornwall with her archaeologist husband and young family, and one afternoon while on a hunt for 'worked' flints near Trevena they came across a dead body. Mann, despite her backlist of 18 crime novels, was more shocked than intrigued by what she had seen, and tried to forget it. But then while working on Out of Harm's Way she received an email from the sister of Ted Johns and arranged to meet her in London.
From there, rather surprisingly, we find ourselves not in a moving study of lost relations and displaced persons but enmeshed in a murder-mystery that takes us from Trevena to New York and back, via several disappearing women, and a teenager traumatised by something she has seen but is unable to recall.
Blurring the boundary between fact and fiction usually makes me feel queasy, as if I'm walking on quicksand. But Jessica Mann controls her material so cleverly that even when she comes up against her fictional characters there's a seamless transition between the two worlds. I've still no idea who is real and who isn't; how many murders were actually committed? But this does not seem to matter. The essence of Jessica Mann's tale feels true, and it's a gripping read.
THE TIMES April 2006
Kate Saunders calls The Mystery Writer
‘A warm, pleasurable read and not too hard on the grey cells.'
OUT OF HARM'S WAY
Headline, Paperback edition, £.99
In June 1940 Britain expected enemy invasion. Despite Churchill`s determination to fight on the beaches, many parents made desperate efforts to send their children abroad to safety. Thousands left for America, Canada, Australia and other distant countries. In this revealing new book, Jessica Mann, herself a wartime evacuee, looks at the experiences of those who were sent away to a foreign land including their dangerous journeys across U-boat-ridden oceans, and asks how they coped with being away, and also how they found life back in the UK on their return. Drawing on extensive original research and memories of many former evacuees, including Elizabeth Taylor and Shirley Williams, Jessica Mann builds up a moving portrait of a lost generation.
John Preston, Sunday Telegraph
'A unique and valuable historical document'
Nina Bawden, Literary Review
OUT OF HARM'S WAY is a non-fiction
history of the overseas evacuation of children
from Britain during WW2, published by Headline Publishers, in association with The Imperial War Museum.
Reviewers have called the book 'compelling', or
ANTHONY THWAITE said in The Scotsman, 9 April
THIS IS A FASCINATING BOOK about the several
thousand children shipped out of Britain during the
first 12 months of the Second World War. They were
often unaccompanied by their parents; in some cases
they went entirely alone. They travelled to Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, the US and a few other
places that in 1939-40 were thought to be "safe".
Those of us who went through what she has written
about must remember - as she does - what a strange
chunk of experience it was, detached from normal
life before and afterwards. It has little to do with
the death camps or the many other horrors of those
years.Out of Harm¡¯s Way is a splendid piece of
social history, detailed in a human-interest way,
rich with anecdotes, full of documentation and
underpinning; and it is sometimes very moving.
Mann¡¯s witness deserves to take a distinguished
place in the library of 20th-century history.
I have talked about OUT OF HARM'S WAY in various places since it came out including: in Ottakar's Bookshop in Truro; the Daphne du Maurier Festival in Fowey, Cornwall; and at at Ways with Words at Dartington, Devon; and The Edinburgh Book Festival; and at literary lunches; and at the Persephone Books weekend at Newnham College, Cambridge.
I have been giving talks about crime fiction
as well as evacuees;
at the St.
Hilda's Crime Fiction Conference in Oxford and the
celebrations for Margery Allingham among others. .
previous novel, featuring Dr Fidelis Berlin, was
Voice From The Grave, published by Constable
Oakes, writing in the Literary Review, said
it's 'pungent, personal and bracingly honest' and
Susanna Yager in The Sunday Telegraph called
it 'an intelligent, literate novel about revenge
and injustice, a thoroughly absorbing read.' In
The Times Literary Supplement, Natasha Cooper calls
it a clever novel and wrote 'Jessica Mann has had
the courage to show what pleasure there can be in
quietness. She also shows how much a novelist can
say in relatively few words.'
Among my interviews with writers are conversations with
Alexander McCall Smith and Dr Oliver Sacks,
published in The Literary Review.
See CADS 43, May 2003, for an interview with me
by Bob Cornwell. You can read it online
here. To contact CADS, email Geoffcads@aol.com