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Bibliophile Book Club: Everything Under by Daisy Johnson

Sexy segueways, Freudian complexes and bad times on the canal, we could only be discussing the 2018 Man Booker shortlisted debut novel Everything Under by Daisy Johnson. What is the bonak? Can we ever avoid our fate? What will our booksellers David Bloomfield, Julie Danskin and Jonathan Taylor make of it?

It’s been sixteen years since Gretel last saw her mother, half a lifetime to forget her childhood on the canals. But a phone call will soon reunite them, and bring those wild years flooding back: the secret language that Gretel and her mother invented; the strange boy, Marcus, living on the boat that final winter; the creature said to be underwater, swimming ever closer. In the end there will be nothing for Gretel to do but to wade deeper into their past, where family secrets and aged prophesies will all come tragically alive again.

Other Books Mentioned

  • Infinite Ground by Martin MacInnes
  • The Vorrh by Brian Catling
  • Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz
  • Feebleminded by Ariana Harwicz
  • Fen by Daisy Johnson
  • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
  • All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
  • Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
  • The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan
  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
  • Circe by Madeline Miller
  • The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley

The shortlist for next time on the Bibliophile Book Club…

  • The Sardinian Woman by Angela Carter (David)
  • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
  • Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin
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Golden Hare wins Independent Bookshop of the Year!

Golden Hare Manager Julie Danskin enjoying the limelight at the British Book Awards.

Golden Hare Books are proud to announce that we have won Independent Bookshop of the Year at the British Book Awards 2019!

The Golden Hare team, represented at the Nibbies by manager Julie Danskin, owner Mark Jones and Individual Bookseller of the Year Nominee Jonathan Taylor, was ecstatic to scoop the award on Monday night, in the face of strong competition from the other excellent nominees.

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Readers’ Salon – May

For our May Reader’s Salon we had a special theme to celebrate Feminist Book Fortnight, and our lively bunch of readers gathered to discuss spring reads and feminist titles.

From investigative journalism into a medical scandal to reimaginings of mythology by female authors, our readers had some wide-ranging recommendations that were met with great enthusiasm. We hope that the books listed below give you a sense of our bookish chat at the Reader’s Salon, as well as inspiring your own spring reads!

Golden Hare Readers’ Salon Recommendations:

In At the Deep End by Katie Davies

Normal People and Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by Andi Zeisler

No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Everything Under and Fen by Daisy Johnson

Show Them a Good Time by Nicole FLattery

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

Circe by Madeleine Miller

Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society and Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine

Extinctions by Josephine Wilson

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Boxer Beetle by Ned Beauman

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne Du Maurier

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton

Little by Edward Carey

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Other Side of Silence by André Brink

Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story by Angela Saini

The Gendered Brain: The New Neuroscience that Shatters the Myth of the Female Brain by Gina Rippon

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Q+A with Elizabeth Macneal (author of The Doll Factory)

David Bloomfield (DB) – I thought I’d start this interview off with the really hard hitting subjects; can we discuss the wombat that indulges in chocolate & cigar binges until it meets a sticky, smoky fate.

Elizabeth Macneal (EM)– Classic Pre-Raphaelite stuff! This element is based on a real life wombat, who was owned by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and which met an early end after an overindulgence in cigars. I consulted a vet friend of mine, who suggested that cigars alone wouldn’t have been enough to kill the wombat that quickly, so I took their advice and inserted gluttonous chocolate consumption as an additional fatal vice for Guinevere (the wombat).

DB – You seem to be singlehandedly reviving interest in pre-Raphaelite ideas! What do you find so interesting and relevant about the movement?

EM – The ambition and energy of this group of young and rebellious artists was impressive to me. They sought to overthrow the entire art establishment, and women were at the forefront of the group. I’ve further prioritised the ideas of women like Elizabeth Siddal in The Doll Factory. The entire movement’s radical use of colour and hyper realistic portrayals of reality confronted Victorian ideals, which I found fascinating.

DB – A bell jar is prominently displayed on the cover of The Doll Factory. Could you explain why this is such a crucial piece of iconography for you?

EM – I wish I’d thought of it! The team at Picador actually came to me with that idea, which I actually think is the perfect encapsulation of the themes in the book. The beauty of this intensely created and maintained object, the claustrophobic aspects of this contained space and a woman, Iris (the main character of the book), seemingly sealed within it, observed and objectified.

The Great Exhibition was, in Elizabeth’s words, “an irresistible symbol of London’s ambition and energy, and showcased collection and curation and display on a grand scale”.

DB – The Great Exhibition is part of the backdrop for your novel, during one of the peaks of British imperial power, yet your book is fascinated with some of the grimier elements of life at the time. What is it about these contradictory narratives (happening in the same place at the same time!) that intrigues you so much?

EM – The gulf between Victorian idealism and reality was quite vast and contradictory. As a Londoner at the time, you could walk through the dazzling upper class areas such as Fitzrovia and then swiftly be in the dreadful slums of St Giles, so that awareness of the contradiction was always there for ordinary people in society. I’m interested in how people from all walks of life had ambition and the struggles they had to undertake to realise that ambition.

The Doll Factory is out now and is available at Golden Hare Books!

DB – Elizabeth Day said that the Doll Factory has “a plot that rattles like a speeding carriage to its thrilling conclusion”. Which is one of my favourite train-themed bits of praise! How did you manage maintaining the verisimilitude of Victorian England while also keeping up such a rollicking pace?

EM – I love working out the plot in advance; I wanted to make sure every scene had a payoff. I created a spreadsheet that laid out the plot in its entirety and allowed me to link together all it’s threads when actually writing the novel. I enjoy turning a scene, so I actually wrote each chapter like a short story in and of itself. My trial novels didn’t do this, and I think they suffered for it, so I learnt from those experiences and made sure each chapter and the actions in it had clear consequences. That’s why Albi (a young orphan) was such a fun character to write, his forward momentum was so aggressive and consequential!

DB – What does the future hold for you, if you don’t mind going into spoiler territory?

EM – I can’t go into huge detail as I’m mostly working on themes and putting the basic structure together currently but I can say that it has some unusual elements, including fossils and the construction of graveyards. I’m fascinated by the creation of these artificial, beautiful spaces in the 1800s, so I’m looking forward to putting that into novel form in the near future!

The Doll Factory is out now and is available at Golden Hare Books in store and online (with a limited number of signed copies available too for the fleet of foot!).


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Review: Everything Under by Daisy Johnson

Our bookseller David reviews Daisy Johnson’s richly woven debut novel!

Daisy Johnson’s Everything Under is available at Golden Hare Books and on our online store.

As a card-carrying member of the “I Take History Seriously” Team, I’ve gained a reputation for my love of miserabilist non-fiction. From How Europe Underdeveloped Africa all the way to Late Victorian Holocausts (an actual book title!), if there’s been a vaguely depressing title to read, I’ve sought it out.

But I’ve decided to start a clean slate as of this moment: I’m reviewing something contemporary(!), fictional(!!) AND only partially depressing(!!!). And what could be a better fit with those three qualities than Daisy Johnson’s Everything Under.

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#MayIAskew | What’s a fair deal for your first advance?

The Golden Hare Books Agony Aunt answers YOUR reading and writing questions…

‘Lady Write-a-Lot’ asks:

“I’ve just found a publisher for my first novel and they’ve offered me a two book deal!!! Wahoo!!! But when it comes to the cold hard cash: what’s a fair amount to earn? And how do I know if I’m being paid fairly?”

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Bibliophile Book Club #1: Little by Edward Carey

Bibliophile has grown! Our bookish babble can no longer be contained within the confines of a single audio file! Welcome to the first Bibliophile Book Club, where we talk exclusively about a single book!

In this episode, we’re talking exclusively about the novel Little by Edward Carey and published by Gallic Books. Why does David like it so much? Why didn’t Julie finish the novel? And why is this podcast somehow about the battle for JT’s love?

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When Hares become Dragons: Helping Currie Community High School students set up shop!

One of the fantastic themed bookshops set up by Currie Community High students.

Getting children more engaged with reading is often considered a daunting task. However, that’s not what the students and staff at Currie Community High School think, and they’ve gone all out to show how crucial reading can be, both inside and outside the walls of a bookshop.

Golden Hare was lucky enough to team up with the school recently, where Maggie Grieve, John Schmidt and headteacher Doreen MacKinnon had set up a Dragon’s Den-style event for their students, while encouraging several outside organisations to supply Dragons for their industry expertise, including yours truly!

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Bibliophile Episode 11: “Classic Arch-Enemy Banter”

In this episode, David Bloomfield, Julie Danskin and Jonathan (JT) Taylor talk about the best Westerns in the first of a new ‘Genre Breakdown’ series. How much does JT know about Bitcoin? Can the gang finish recording in time for David to fetch his moving van? Will Julie ever finish another book again? And from now on, there will be two Bibliophile episodes each month! All this and so much more in the latest episode…

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#May I Askew | How to get over a book hangover

The Golden Hare Books Agony Aunt answers YOUR reading and writing questions…

Alex, aka @ahwingate, asks:

“My question (and the struggle is real) is: how do you get over a book hangover? After I’ve read a book I really enjoy I struggle to get into the next one. It’s bigtime mopesville. And then I fall in love with that book and the cycle starts all over again…”

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