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The Book Launch For Clara’s Daughter

A photo of Meike Ziervogel and Isabel Wolff

On Friday afternoon I made my way to Highgate, London, to attend the book launch for Meike Ziervogel’s (of Peirene Press) Clara’s Daughter. The launch took place at the Highgate Scientific and Literary Institution, a lovely building where we could gather for drinks and a natter in an anti-room before going through for the event itself. Highgate is where the book is set so it was a particularly appropriate venue. The launch comprised a couple of readings and an interview with Isabel Wolff (author of A Vintage Affair). It was a wonderful evening.

We began with a reading and then Ziervogel spoke about the background to the story. Clara’s Daughter is 30,000 words, however prior to this, 80,000 words about Michele had been written. When the author set out to write the book she had one image in mind – a woman, who had it all, standing outside on the street with a plastic bag (the bag didn’t contain a dead husband). 80,000 words were spent on this woman walking around the street, having affairs. It took those words before Ziervogel realised the woman was actually in the house, was supposed to be in the house. And when Clara ‘arrived’, she wondered what it would take for said character to move out of the basement. The author said later that it was boring, she was bored writing the string of encounters and so readers would be bored reading it – but by writing those words she got to something that worked.

Book cover

Ziervogel also spoke of playing with the subconscious, how two of the characters are in harmony in this way but neither one can tell what they need. This was a particularly interesting point when you consider the way one of the characters slowly turns from not liking the other as much, to understanding her a lot more. And this has to be the best inspiration story I’ve heard so far – part of the plot arose from the author falling into the lake. Wolff pointed out that the lake was a symbol of rebirth which I must admit I hadn’t thought of previously.

A group of us went to Peirene’s HQ afterwards for a bite to eat (I had water in a jam jar which was pretty different) and a further chance to chat. It was a pleasure talking to those I met and learning about book printing, book indexes, and editing in the world of publishing houses.

I hopped on the last train just in time. The driver greeting you with ‘good morning’ when you’re day has yet to finish is very strange.


Tracy Terry

September 8, 2014, 12:50 pm

How wonderful, I wish we had more of these type of events here in the north east.


September 8, 2014, 1:40 pm

Sounds like you have a lovely event! Water in a jam jar makes me giggle, very hipster hehe.


September 8, 2014, 7:11 pm

Very jealous – one of the few times I wish I lived in London.



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