The page proofs of Amateurs in Eden arrived yesterday – always such an exciting moment, but scary too – all that hope and expectation and work, does the final product live up to everything I dreamed of it being? Now all I have to do is go over the text with a fine tooth comb, the absolutely last, last chance to pick up errors and things I will regret once it is too late.
It feels like the journey is coming to an end, though of course, once the book is published it will begin a journey all its own. Coincidentally, it is just under a year since my sister Penelope died; her illness, and the idea of making the most of her father’s centenary next year to pay for what we thought might be years of care was the starting point of the whole enterprise. I can’t help wondering what she would make of it – I hope she would feel I’ve done justice to our mother, but there is no way to be sure.
It was Penelope who first took me to Corfu in 1996, the place which meant more to our mother Nancy than anywhere else. One of the best bits of research was a visit in May 2010 (I deliberately went before the sea was warm enough for swimming, or the research would have been even less genuine than it was.) Though the island has obviously changed a huge amount since the 1930s, there are still places that must look pretty much the same
Thanks to an Arts Council grant I’ve been able to do some fascinating travel research – another of the joys of non fiction that I am discovering. Paris was my first port of call, and I finally got to see the Villa Seurat, home of Henry Miller, where they hung out in 1937. It’s actually a little dead end street, not sure why the French call those villas, maybe it was built in the grounds of a former big house.