Wednesday, March 13, 2013

First review of SILENT SATURDAY, I do believe!

I'm delighted to say that what I believe to be the very first review of my upcoming novel Silent Saturday has just appeared! 

It's by Dutch book blogger Mieneke van der Salm, better known as the Fantastical Librarian. You can read the interview here:
http://www.afantasticallibrarian.com/2013/03/helen-grant-silent-saturday.html
(It's also on Goodreads.)

I was particularly interested to read what Mieneke thought of the book since, like my heroine Veerle, she is a Dutch speaker (I have used the terms "Flemish" and "Dutch" pretty much interchangeably in the book - Flemish is what the locals speak in Flanders, but if you go to classes there, as I did, it is "Dutch" that is being taught, as my teacher was quick to point out). Mieneke is uniquely placed to appreciate some of the occasional Dutch invective, at which she has raised a literary eyebrow!

I won't quote the whole review here as it is all available via the link above, but I will just say that I was particularly pleased with the following observations: "Grant lived in Flanders (the Dutch-speaking half of Belgium) for several years and her affection for the country, its people and its language is obvious. I liked that she chose to respect the language divide in Belgium in how she chose to name the towns. While she chose the English versions for big towns such as Ghent and Brussels, she kept the other towns the way they would be named by their inhabitants. So Tervuren is Dutch, but Namur, which is in the French-speaking part of Belgium is called by its French name and not the Dutch Namen. Besides lending veracity to the book, it also shows respect to the quite complicated political situation in Belgium." 

It is true that I developed a great affection for Flanders as a result of living there, and I am so glad that this has shone through. I do sometimes wonder whether the inhabitants of the locations of my books (eg. Bad M√ľnstereifel) will forgive me for populating their home with ghosts, ghouls and serial killers! It is a sign of affection - really. 

I also spent a lot of time debating which versions of Belgian place names to use, as I have described on a previous blog post. I hope I have got it "right" or at least, that I have shown my respect to the complex society that is Belgium!

Vlaanderen, ik hou van je!


Addendum (14th March): Just out is a review of the book by the Bookwitch! You can read it here: http://bookwitch.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/silent-saturday/ I've just this minute seen the review, having seen the Fantastical Librarian's last night, so I reckon it was a bit of a photo finish over whose was out first! 

I'm pleased to say that the Bookwitch has also posted an interview with me, which you can read here: http://bookwitch.wordpress.com/interviews/helen-grant-im-still-an-expat-sticking-out/ - it includes some of my musings about the experience of being an expat in Flanders and now living in Scotland. 

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