I thought I’d write a brief report on the official launch of The Water Doctor’s Daughters in Great Malvern. Editor Des was supposed to do it, but he was still in recovery from an unfortunate incident in London [see end of article].
WELL, THE BIG DAY DAWNED AND….
Oh dear, there was a most unseasonable and unexpected heavy fall of snowl! It was almost impossible to drive or walk around, especially as Malvern is so steep.
I am tempted to believe that the weather was Dr Marsden’s way of getting his revenge on me…but I only wrote the truth! (even though the local paper mistakenly reported that I had written a novel based on the doctor’s tragic daughters and their governess, Mlle Doudet.) Mind you, conditions were ghastly all over the UK so perhaps I’m being a bit fanciful. There was a positive side to it too, as the town looked utterly magical…a true Christmas card scene (yes, yes, that’s a cliche). The famous Malvern Hills were covered in snow. They looked as though they were draped in wet, white sheets..just like the water-cure patients. Naturally poor Rob was too busy and harassed to take pictures, but my friend Clare took this stunning photo of snow on early blossom.
Fortunately there are some hardy souls in Malvern (must be something in the water!), and they braved the weather to attend the launch at the Foley Arms Hotel, as did my own band of loyal and lovely friends. Caroline and Bill drove all the way from the far west of Wales before the worst of the snow arrived. Clare and Des’s Godmother Yvonne came from points south of London. Cath drove out from Maidenhead and Rita caught the train from Rugby.
Jackie was about to drive down from Birmingham until the snow made it utterly impossible, but she posted a sweet message on Facebook.
THE EDITOR’S NEW CLOTHES
Yvonne’s friend Maureen had made Editor Des a new outfit for the occasion and I must say he looked very warm and smart. My friend Bill said he was in Manchester City’s colours but I prefer to think the blue represents Chelsea. I also received countless messages of congratulation and good wishes from family and friends around the world. My sincere thanks to everyone. A fellow author called Mike told me to wear red knickers for good luck and promised that he would too. Well it didn’t work as far the weather went Mike! He later said that he should have worn them outside his trousers, like Superman.
Here is the Morgan Room at the historic Foley Arms being set up. Many of the wealthy water-cure clients used to stay here. It was very generous of the hotel to provide the venue free of charge. The event was hosted by the Malvern Book Co-operative and I must thank Helen and Dan for organizing everything. By the way, there should still be some signed copies of The Water Doctor’s Daughters in the book shop at 2 St Ann’s Road. They also sell lovely homemade cakes and coffee!
One local man arrived with a carton of eggs in his hand, which was a little disconcerting. He said he also had some tomatoes with him! Another lady told me she had an apartment in a house called Abbotsfield, in Abbey Road. This was where Dr Marsden moved to from Cotswold House after he remarried in 1852. His daughters Lucy, Rosa and Emily came back to Abbotsfield after their sister Marian had died in Paris in the summer of 1853. It was in this house that 14 year old Lucy also died, in September of the same year.
Yvonne was the first to sit down at the launch. She was minding Editor Des and was a bit agitated in case he wandered off outside and got lost in the snow. He insisted on sitting on the window sill.
My friend, local historian and author Cora Weaver, gave me a great introduction. I wasn’t really nervous during my own talk, but a bit inclined to digress!! This will not surprise anyone who knows me. I suspect the man with the eggs must have been sorely tempted to hurl a couple towards the end. Rob managed the PowerPoint presentation as best he could …given my verbal hopping about! Will have to tighten things up for my next author event at The Hive in Worcester on April 3rd, which is more formal and will focus on my research.
It was great day for me, despite the horrors of the weather. I happily signed books and wished my darling mother could have been there, especially as the book is dedicated to her.
Unfortunately my friend Rita had to return home on the train after it was all over, but the rest of us had dinner together, with much chat and laughter. There is to be a launch at Sydney’s Ashfield Public library when I get back to Australia in June as the book will be released there in April. Surely it won’t be snowing in New South Wales…will it??
Psst- excuse me. Now that Pauline has finished raving on about the book, let me just quickly tell you what happened in London. Well we were staying at this hotel near the Tower of London, and when Pauline and Doctor Bob packed up to go home…THEY LEFT ME BEHIND!! Can you believe it?? It was as if that great Shard of glass had pierced my heart.
And Pauline didn’t even notice my absence until they were at South Kensington station, that’s ten stops away; TEN! I was sobbing my eyes out until finally I heard the door open but it wasn’t my worried guardians…it was the cleaner! Well he was quite kind, but I was scared witless. He put me on his trolley and was wheeling me down the corridor when finally Dr Bob arrived…looking really white around the gills. He had caught another train back to the Tower, checked the room and found me gone. Well I hope he got a huge fright. My Godmother Vonnie has threatened to report both he and Pauline to the welfare people for un-BEAR-able carelessness but I don’t suppose anything will come of it. Anyway, I have said my piece and I feel better for getting it off my chest. My confidence has been severely shaken though. Can you understand why??