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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Thoughts on titles and emblems

The One I Was was titled 'Fairfleet' for the period of two years in which I wrote it, because the house itself seemed to be such a part of the narrative, almost a character in its own right. Eventually I changed the name, because a friend, rightfully, pointed out that it gave the book a nautical, if not naval, air! It is set in inland England, near the historic cities of Oxford and Abingdon, so I was worried that this would be misleading. 

The One I Was as a title popped into my head at a random moment and it seemed completely the right title for the book. Benny comes to England as a refugee from Nazi Germany and immediately realizes that to flourish in a new country he needs to reinvent himself into someone irreproachably English. But are we still the same people we were when we were children? And if you try and change yourself into someone else can you always succeed?


There are lots of other things in the The One I Was that fascinate me: topiary animals and peacocks. Appropriately, only last night, a few weeks after the book was published, a friend and I nearly jumped out of our skins when a peacock shrieked at us in the dark. A Spitfire plane also features in the novel as an emblem of freedom and danger, completely irresistible for Harriet Dorner, female pilot.

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