Newark Book Festival 2019: A Cream Tea with Jo Baker

Newark Book Festival 2019: A Cream Tea with Jo Baker

This was my third year attending Newark Book Festival. This year I attended 'A Cream Tea with Jo Baker' at the Secet Garden Cafe and listened to her talk about her latest thriller 'The Body Lies'

This was my third year going to Newark Book Festival but due to time constraints I could only attend one event. Fortunately for me my favourite event matched my availability, so I ended up with tickets to A Cream Tea with Jo Baker which was held at The Secret Garden Café.

I love the café located at the back of a little gallery on Stodman Street. It is one of my favourite cafes and I would definitely come to Newark just to eat there. The food is always delicious, the staff are friendly, and the surroundings are lovely.

Let us just take a minute to admire the food. 

Prior to the event I hadn’t read the book and I didn’t know anything about the author other than her name so I was pleased when I realised that she had written a book I would more than likely enjoy reading.

One reviewer of The Body Lies described it as ‘ingenious’ and ‘electrifying.’

Listening to Jo Baker talk it was clear that whilst some areas of the book emerged organically there were others which she put a lot more thought into. For example, the roses around the door of the cottage are already rotting by the time she gets there.

“I wouldn’t put roses round the door unless I was going to do something with them.”

The protagonist in this story has no name. She is identified by her roles; mother, teacher, wife etc. Jo Baker explained that the decision to leave her unnamed arose by accident and then she just went with it.

As part of the novel she had to write in the different writing styles of the people from the writing group and it was like being a series of different people. She said she found it fun to write in the different styles.

“One of the great joys of writing is stepping inside other people’s heads.”

Jo Baker described herself as a “promiscuous reader” because she reads widely and reads all sorts of stuff. I loved that description as it is very much how I like to read.

She had some advice for people who want to be authors. Advice I thought was worth taking. “Don’t be put off if it is hard. Keep pushing.”

One of the things discussed at the event was the role of the relationship between the protagonist and her son. She is protective of him and nurturing but he also he acts as a crutch for her in her slightly fragile state.

“He is almost pre-lingual, but he is her other half in a way.”

One of the comments from the audience addressed how complex it is to be a woman. She said it came out of some of her experiences trying to juggle all her roles. She said people are stretched quite thin a lot of the time. She said we are all trying to fulfil all of the roles and it is knackering.

Someone else mentioned that the men don’t come across particularly well in this novel and Jo Baker said that she does write good men, but they just aren’t in this book.

My favourite thing she said was that The Body Lies is the counter to the princess in the tower

“She is going to have to climb down her own ponytail.”

She talks about the #metoo movement and the way that self-blame and victim blaming are entrenched in society.

The protagonist feels that she could have handled it better whereas in reality she shouldn’t have had to deal with any of it.

All in all from the reading, and the way the author came across there was no way I wasn’t going to buy The Body Lies. A review of the book will follow at a later date.

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