Rebecca Lenkiewicz is a playwright and scriptwriter was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2017. She co-wrote the BAFTA-winning Ida with the film’s director Pawel Pawlikowski. Her plays have been performed internationally. They include Soho – A Tale of Table Dancers ,The Night Season which opened at the National Theatre in 2004 and won the Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award. Her Naked Skin was the first play to be written by a woman at the National’s Olivier Theatre, The Painter was produced at the Arcola Theatre and Shoreditch Madonna at the Soho Theatre. Adaptations include Ibsen’s Ghosts and An Enemy of the People at the Arcola and then at the Manhattan Theatre Club, Broadway, The Invisible at the Bush, Jane Wenham for Out of Joint and The Typist for Sky Arts. Rebecca has written many dramas and adaptations for BBC radio including Sarah and Ken and Ladder of Years.
The Little Red Chairs
Edna O’ Brien
I grew up addicted to The Country Girls and Edna O’ Brien’s magnificent trilogy; The Girl With Green Eyes and Girls in Their Married Bliss. Her latest novel is set in Ireland, London, the Hague and Sarajevo. It tells of the affair between an enigmatic foreign stranger who has come to town.., Vladimir Dragan, who is a sex therapist and healer.. and Fidelma, a frustrated and charismatic married woman who runs a defunct shop in the sleepy Irish town. Dragan is not who he claims to be and war crimes and Fidelma’s being pregnant by him throw us into a brutal world. It is so finely wrought and so beautifully detailed; moving, funny, searing; harrowing but hopeful too… an epic and essential book for our time.
All My Puny Sorrows
This is about two sisters; it is full of tragedy and an abundance of various ways to love.. one of the sisters is compelled towards suicide despite being a virtuoso concert pianist. It is searing but it also very funny at times and their Ammonite childhood is often laugh out loud with its dark humour. Toews has talked of how it is autobiographical; her older sister killed herself in 2010; her father had killed himself before that. It’s an incredibly tender book and I found myself crying and in deep admiration of this beautiful author.
This novel was written in the early twentieth century but it reads more like a 10th century piece of Norse fiction. Set in Iceland and Norway it is a richly feminist piece about Vigdis Gunnarsdotter who is a most unusual heroine; brutal, guarded, spurred on to epic deeds by her father’s murder and her own experience of rape. The language is beautifully sparse and you feel the world of Old Norse come alive in this raw and seismic tale of love and revenge. It’s a remarkable book.